Phonics and the iPad

Phonics and the iPad

Thought I’d share a simple phonics activity we’ve enjoyed this year.

We’ve had iPads in school for a couple of years now & sometimes use them to reinforce phonics work. We often use these popular apps for this…

Hairy Letters app from iTunes  – ‘Hairy Letters’ (£1.99), and

abc PocketPhonics app from iTunes  – ‘abc PocketPhonics’ (free for the Lite version, but £4.99 for the full version)

Alex from The ICT Advisors came in to work with my class and we decided to stray from the usual phonics apps & used the app ‘My Custom Soundboard HD’. This used to be free, but is now 69p in the App Store.  It’s a simple app that allows you to take a photo & record your own sounds to go with it.

My Custom Soundboard app from iTunes

It could be used for a variety of purposes but we thought it might be nice for the children to have a visual & aural record of some of our phonics work…

Alex worked with the children as they chose items found in the classroom & told him what sound they began with. Together, they built up a board with photos & matching initial sounds


My Custom Soundboard... capturing a photo - from Rachel (",)

A super simple app to use, you just

Phonics work with My Custom Soundboard - from Rachel (",)

  • Click on an empty ‘button’.
  •  Take or choose a photo by clicking the ‘EDIT PHOTO’ button.
  • Record sound by pressing the large red circle

Once you have saved this, the empty button is filled with your image & you just click it to hear the recorded sound.

The children built up a board with a variety of images & sounds which is lovely for them to listen back to…

My Custom Soundboard... screenshot of filled-in boards - from Rachel (",)

Click the play buttons to hear a couple of examples…



We’ve worked with Alex from The ICT Advisors for a while now & I really can’t recommend him enough – he goes above & beyond to support us & nothing is too much trouble. He’s based in Cheshire but works all over the UK too, so get in touch if you’d like some help! 🙂


Thanks for reading!

Rachel (“,)

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  1. This looks like such an amazing app. I’m definitely going to get this for my 3 year old son. He loves using a camera and really enjoys creating books together. Thanks for sharing with the Love to Learn Linky. We featured you this week at One Time Through! Best, Sue

    • Thanks Sue, looking forward to seeing it there (“,)

  2. I just saw your lovely setting photos on Facebook and wanted to ask a couple of questions but am not a Facebook member so am asking here instead – hope that’s ok. Firstly, I really like the way you have different flooring to help define the construction and small world areas. What did you use and is it just sat on you of the existing floors! Secondly, do you have written signs up anywhere saying what each area is? I don’t apart from the reading corner but opinion on whether I should or not varies from one advisor to another (quite strongly!) I just wondered what your thoughts were?

    • Hi Hettie,
      Our existing flooring is basically part carpet, part hard-wearing lino type ‘stuff’ (I have no idea what it is actually called!!). We then have a rug in the reading area (just placed over the hard floor) & a piece of bathroom lino placed over the carpet in the construction area (one of my Teaching Assistants had it left over when she was re-flooring her bathroom). It just sits on the carpet, so is moveable.
      I have different things I use as the base for small world settings & they all ‘live’ in the small world area piled on top of each other (with the one we are using on the top). So we have things like door mats, carpet tiles, rugs, greengrocer grass etc.

      As for labelling areas, no I don’t.
      I do think that environmental print is important, but that it should be purposeful…. So, I have labels within areas (e.g. the play dough baskets, maths trays etc are all labelled with a photo & name of the resource) but personally don’t feel it is necessary to label the actual area. I feel that, that would just be for adults as the children certainly wouldn’t read them! I think it is fairly obvious that the small world area is small world and the construction area is construction.

      Also, I wouldn’t like to think that an area could only be used for one purpose – maths doesn’t just happen in the maths area does it? My small world figures go on adventures all round the room, not just in the small world area and ‘discovery & exploration’ certainly doesn’t just happen on my Discovery Table.
      Does that make sense?!

      Rachel (“,)

  3. Thank you! Makes perfect sense and exactly the reasons I’ve given for why I haven’t labelled areas! Some people just seem to get a real bee in their bonnet about it. I never have enough time to do all that I’d want as it is – I want to spend it doing things that will make a difference to the children! Mine take everything everywhere too!

    • Wish I could do a little ‘thumbs up ‘ sign here 😉

  4. Just in case it helps – the version Rachel shows here is “My custom soundboard HD” there is an iPhone version “My custom soundboard” which looks the same but only allows 9 photos

    • Excellent point, Marie. I’ve added ‘HD’ to the post. Thank you! 😀

  5. Amazing. I run many interventions and like to mix things up a bit. Your ideas are fabulous. Your passion to engage your children is fabulous. Keep up the good work.

    • Ahh, thank you very much, Ann!

  6. Do you think the app could be made available to users in other countries? I’m in Australia, and would love to use this as part of our emergent literacy program. 🙂

    • Oh, I’m not sure! I don’t have anything to do with apps, I just download them! Maybe you could contact the company who made it?

    • (This is for Sri as well, who asked about accessing the app in Australia) – I can only find an app under the Custom SoundBoard HD name which records sounds, I can’t see any button to insert pictures. Am I doing something wrong or perhaps is it now different to the app you used Rachel? – I too would love to get hold of this.

      • Sounds like it’s different to the app I used, because inserting the picture was really obvious. Maybe they’ve stopped doing it. What a shame!


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