I received an email last week asking me to recommend a few apps for pre-schoolers that used UK English accents, and I thought that would be a great thing to cover in a blog post. It can be hard to pick apps with a UK accent out amongst the large selection of great apps for pre-school kids that have American accents. So I’ve had a dig through my collection and rounded up 10 apps which would suit kids between the ages of 2 and 5 and which have UK voices. I’ve included apps for a wide range of abilities, as kids of this age are very variable in what they can do and what they are interested in doing on the iPad, but I’ve attempted to present them in ascending age order – i.e. starting with apps for the younger end of the age range and moving through to ones for more advanced kids.
Please note this list is biased in favour of iPad apps, because that’s what I know best, but I have included links to Android versions of the apps where they exist. I’m afraid I don’t know the Android app market well enough to recommend anything that’s not also on iPad.
Yum Yum – feeding animals for toddlers and children (iOS Universal, £1.99): I’ve put this first on the list as it’s really a toddler app (the developer describes it as being most suited for ages 1-3), but my almost-four-year old still loves it, so I think it would be a good app for young pre-schoolers, or those with little iPad experience. This is an absolutely beautiful app where your child can navigate between different nature scenes, and in each one they can interact with the scene to feed the animals or to have something funny happen. There isn’t a lot of narration, but what there is has been recorded with a UK voice.
Pre-School Classroom (iOS Universal, £1.49): This is a great app for preschoolers – it takes your child through a series of mini games which cover early phonics (letter sounds), numeracy (number identification and counting) and writing (line marking). The interface is simple – single tap, or tap and drag. Clear instructions are given at the start of each mini game (in a UK accent). There is plenty of reward for correct answers, and after every few games the child can add a virtual star to their virtual sticker chart. The music can get a little irritating after a while, and there isn’t an option to turn it off, so I recommend careful use of the volume control!
The Story Mouse (iOS Universal, free with one story, additional stories available at £1.49 each). This app has been a firm favourite in the geek family since my daughter was a pre-schooler. I first reviewed this app in 2011 (you can read the review here), and since then a good number of new stories have been added so that this app now boasts a great collection of books. When they first start off, your pre-schooler will be able to select to have the stories read to them (which is done in a UK voice), but as they start school and learn to read they’ll be able to turn off the narration and read the books themselves. This is one of those apps that my kids go back to again and again.
Intro to Letters (iOS Universal, £2.99). This app and its sister “Intro to Math” (see below) have again been firm favourites in the geek household since the geekdaughter was a pre-schooler. Intro to letters teaches your child not just the to recognise all the letters of the alphabet and their phonic sounds, it also shows them how to write each letters. It also introduces some of the common digraphs (two letters that combine to make a particular sound). The voiceover is available in multiple languages, including UK English, and if you don’t like the voice provided you can record your own.
Intro to Math (iOS Universal, £2.99) This is the maths equivalent of Intro to Letters (see above). A delightful app which allows the child to select from a variety of activities, each one building numeracy skills. Lots of counting and sorting, plus a section which teaches you how to write each of the numbers between 1 and 10. As with Intro to Letters the voiceover is available in many different languages including UK English, and you can record your own voiceover if you don’t like any of the standard ones.
School Writing (iPad only, £2.99. Also available on Android) This app was written by an Australian developer, but it has options for US and UK voices as well as Australian. This app provides a comprehensive method for learning to write, starting from mark making, allowing the child to trace curves and patterns on the screen, through to forming individual numbers and then into whole words. You can choose different fonts so your child can learn both plain and cursive writing, and there are even some advanced things you can do in terms of putting together “lessons” and locking the app into “student mode”. This app was produced in conjunction with teachers and despite its very educational nature is still something my kids both enjoyed playing with.
Maths, age 3-5 (iOS Universal, Free with additional content unlocked via in-app purchase. Also available on Android) This is a great numeracy app aimed at 3 to 5 year olds, and again it’s something both my kids have played with any enjoyed. Again it takes the form of a series of mini-games, presented in a very structured format – a few lessons and then a little test to see how well your child has learnt. The mini games are all very mathematical in nature – matching, patterns, counting etc. I first reviewed it here and whilst I still think the prices of the in-app purchases are on the high side (it will cost £8.98 to unlock all the content), you can at least try the first lesson for free to see how you and your child get on with it before investing any money in it. I eventually paid for the additional lessons, and my kids have gone back to them again and again, so I think it is probably worth it.
Mr Thorne Does Phonics: Letters and Sounds (iPad only, £2.99. A seperate iPhone version is available, also priced at £2.99. Also available on Android) Mr Thorne is a bit of a YouTube celebrity, and has produced many videos for pre-schoolers and school-aged children to explain phonics and the building blocks of reading. The app doesn’t offer you anything that you can’t get for free on YouTube, but it puts all the videos together in a sensible fashion, stores them on your device instead of having to stream them over the WiFi and allows you to avoid sitting your child in front of YouTube (the “related videos” feature there is rather too dangerous for my liking!). Despite the lack of interactivity this is another app that both my kids have enjoyed, and I’ve seen it support their learning. Mr Thorne himself is from the UK so again all his videos are presented with a UK accent.
Ladybird I’m Ready for Phonics (iOS Universal, £2.99. Also available on Android) This, in my humble opinion, is one of the best and most complete phonics apps available on the App Store. Beautiful cartoon-style graphics engage your child from the very start, and the app turns learning phonics into a game – your child has to work through each section to unlock the next. It’s all wrapped up in a space theme where a rocket takes your child between the planets and they learn something different on each planet. This has the added bonus of making sure the letters and sounds are introduced in the same order they would be at school. You can even record your child’s voice as they sound out the phonics in some of the levels. As you advance through the app it introduces not just the individual letter phonics but also blends and even some of the most common “tricky” words. Developed in the UK in conjunction with UK teachers, this app supports the current phonics teaching methods used within UK schools, and of course is narrated with a UK voice.
Barefoot World Atlas (iOS Universal, £2.99 with additional content unlocked via in-app purchase at £1.49 per pack) Now I might be a little optimistic recommending this one as suitable for pre-schoolers when the App Store kids section has classified it as “made for ages 9-11”, but bear with me OK? In its most basic operation this app gives you an interactive world map – you can swipe the screen to rotate and zoom, and there are many things to click on. Clicking on something speaks its name and opens an information pane with more information. There’s a little speaker icon you can tap to have the information read to you. So I think this app is actually really good for pre-schoolers – my two have certainly both enjoyed dipping in and out of it and learning a little more each time. As with every other app in this list, this one is narrated with a UK voice.
So there you are – my top 10 apps with UK narration. I’m sure there are more good ones as well – if you’ve come across any please leave a comment – I always love discovering new apps.
Disclosure: iTunes App Store links in this post contain my affiliate ID. Purchases made after clicking do not cost you any more money but result in a very small commission being paid to me.