Joyce M. Ball Reading and Learning Specialist
Joyce M. BallReading and Learning Specialist

Then and Now


Prior to joining the faculty at Wheeler School in 1989, I maintained a private tutorial practice. Currently, I continue my private practice, teach at Wheeler, where in addition to being the reading/learning specialist in Lower School, I am the Department Head of the Academic Support Department.


Staying current with the latest research on learning, reading, and various learning disabilities is a priority of mine. Several years ago, I taught a course for the Brown University–Wheeler School MAT program called Language and Literacy, the methods course for teaching reading and writing in the MAT Elementary Education program. At the time, teaching this course satisfied my need to grow professionally.


For the past several years, my attention has been on the research regarding the teaching of spelling to both conventional learners and students with learning disabilities. This interest led me to write a spelling and word study curriculum for grades one through eight. This program, Get on the Ball with your Spelling, is used in the Lower School at Wheeler. I owe the faculty many thanks for their time and feedback regarding this program. If you're interested in this curriculum, please email me at



Below are some of my PowerPoint presentations:


Reading Cmprehension
,READ COMP W ppt presentation copy.ppt
Microsoft Power Point presentation [500.0 KB]
Reading Fluency
Microsoft Power Point presentation [652.0 KB]
Executive Function for Parents
parent ef use this 1.ppt
Microsoft Power Point presentation [1.1 MB]
Executive Function for Educators
EF for educators.ppt
Microsoft Power Point presentation [2.6 MB]

Here is a link to a recent ( 3/2018) publication from Common Sense Media's "50 Apps All Kids Should Play at Least Once"



And, here are  some apps for the iPad I have found to be useful and fun.






This app is a clearing-house for educational apps for children in preschool through grade 1. All the apps you find here have been reviewed by early childhood educators. You can browse through the following subjects: math and logic, language, art, science, and social studies. What a great idea to help parents support their children's learning.



ABC Magic Phonics & ABC Magic 2

These simple apps are for children who need to practice the name and sound of each letter of the alphabet. Just one thing....the letters are lower case. 



TeachMe: Toddler

This app is great for our Kindergarteners, which covers six age-appropriate subjects: letters, letter sounds, numbers, shapes, colors, and counting.



This app has games educational games for grades Pre-K to 5th. Highly recommended.



Pocket Phonics

This app is great for helping your youngster learn to write/form the lower case letters and practice the letter sounds. There's an arrow that guides the child to properly form each letter. Additionally, there is an interactive word game for making simple phonetically-correct words. 



Hi Phonics

This app allows your child to practice letter/sound correspondence. Lower case letters are coordinated with the initial letter sound of a word represented by a picture card. The three levels get progressively more challenging. 



Math Motion Zoom

This app gives your child a chance to play with numbers. There is a "stretchable number line" and your child has to place the floating number in the correct space on the number line. This app uses basic numbers (1-1,000) as well as decimals and negative numbers.



Montessori Counting Board

This interactive app helps youngsters identify numbers and count up or down. God auditory feedback.



Day at the Beach (Trilogy Studios)

This is a cute app....three groups of crabs appear, and your child must count the number of crabs in each group, then order the groups from smallest to largest. This app helps your child with one-to-one correspondence and the concept of number ordering.




This is a great app for counting, and helps with one-to-one correspondence.



READING/PHONICS APPS for First Graders +



Magic Penny 1

I love this app and so do adorable, little puppet, a monkey, greets you! Letter/sound correspondence is the first skill, then it moves to first, middle and last sounds. Next is blending sounds into words, followed by segmenting words into sounds and finally reading words. These skills are all necessary to acquire strong phonemic awareness and early reading skills.



ABC Magic Reading Short Vowel Words

This app allows your child to practice blending and segmenting sounds...two very important phonemic awareness skills. Very well done! 




Story Wheel

Your child can record a story! First, the child spins a wheel to get a picture, then he or she narrates a portion of the story. Spinning and recording continue until the story is complete. Pretty amazing!



TeachMe: Kindergarten, or TeachMe: 1st Grade

This series of apps teaches children age appropriate skills in the subjects of sight words, addition, subtraction, and spelling. I think the Toddler app is more appropriate for our Kindergarteners, but look at them depends where your child is developmentally.



Super Why! for iPad

Your child can interactively play while practicing the alphabet, rhyming, spelling, writing, and reading. A winner of a Parents' Choice Silver Award.



Word Magic

For preschools through early first grade, children practice beginning, middle and final sounds of words.



SPELLING APP...........Spellboard

OMG!!!! I am giggling because I am so excited about this app. An adult types in and pronounces each spelling word from the week's list! Once saved, your child can "study the quiz".... each word and the pronunciation 'come on' and there is a space for the child to write the word (with his or her finger)! Also, word searches are generated in either upper or lower case, and finally, your child can "take the quiz"...your voice dictates each word, and your child must type the word in the space provided. (However, your child can first write the word, then type it above.) A score is generated and the incorrectly spelled words appear. AMAZING. If you get this app, please let me know how this compares to SpellCity.



MATH APPS for grades 1-5+




Another fun one, even for me! Matho is a bingo-style game for improving math facts...addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. A math fact is placed at the top of the screen, and the player must find the answer on the gameboard. The goal is to get five answers in a row checked off on the board. 



Splash Math for Grades 1, 2, & 3 (separate apps)

There are three grade levels of Splash Math-1st, 2nd, & 3rd. Each grade level reviews many math skills, such as place value, comparing numbers, addition, subtraction, money, measurement and more. Comprehensive and fantastic!



Times Table Labs

Oh my, even I love playing this game! Numbered balls drop down (the product) and the player has to move the ball onto the times table chart correctly. For example. if 12 drops down, the player can drop the ball on the intersection of 3 x 4, 4 x 3, 6 x 2, or 2 x 6. Challenging and fun!



PopMath Maths Plus

Six pairs of bubbles float... a bubble has either a math fact inside it, or an answer. Your child has to pop the corresponding bubbles. This app provides a fun way to practice all four operations' math facts.



Kids Time Fun

This is a wonderful app to help children  learn time on the analog clock. There are six activities:Tell Time, Elapsed Time, Time After, Time Before Set Time and Mixed Mode. I love this one!



Kids Coin Fun

This app does money so well. There are a few options including the coin denominations that appear, the number of problems, and the difficultly level. The six activities include: Add Coins, Count Coins, Choose Coins, Get Change, Give Change and Touch Total. Fun!



Sums Stacker

Numerals are stacked in three piles, with a target number below each stack. Your child has to move the numerals from stack to stack until all three stacks have the targeted number. This is a great activity to improve number sense, math fluency, problem solving, and it helps with cognitive flexibility. BUT, that's not can choose how the numbers are represented: fingers, dice, ringlets, Roman numerals, coins, and words. Real fun..even for me!



Pizza Fractions: Beginning with Simple Fractions

Your child can practice the concept of simple fractions in a game-like manner.



Motion Math

By playing Motion Math, your child will improve his or her ability to perceive and estimate fractions, decimals and percents. Fun and challenging!






American History Time Line

Navigate through our country's histoy with this app. Features include: sequencing events and matching the correct event with the correct date. Your child will read about hundreds ofimportant people, places, and events. Games will test your chld's knowledge. This is a wonderful and informative app.



Stack the States and Stack the Countries

Stack the States is perfect for our third graders! This app helps children learn about all 50 states. Practice the state capitals, state shapes, state abbreviations, state locations, and bordering states. Answer a question, then drop the animated state...the goal is to build a stack of states up to the checkered line. Great fun!



A Life Cycle

This app has great illustrations as well as explanations of various life cycles. Those include: Frog Life Cycle, Water Life Cycle, Butterfly Life Cycle, Pollination, Photosynthesis, Moon Phases (fifth grade!), and more.




This is a fabulous FREE app for our 5th graders studying the solar system. This app is jammed packed with info on the planets, thousands of images from NASA, mission information and much more.



3D Brain

If you heard JoAnn Deak speak last week, you may have a new interest in the human brain and its functions. This FREE app explains how each region of the brain functions and more. The 3D brain rotates and zooms! 






iWrite Words (Printing)

This is a fabulous app for practice the proper print formatin of letters, both upper and lower case. The graphics are fun and colorful, the auditory feedback is great and best of all, your child traces the letters with his or her finger! LOVE!



Zaner-Bloser Handwriting-Cursive

This interactive app lets your child practice upper and lowercase cursive letters. Great feedback, great music, and great instruction included. My only complaint....there is no practice of writing words, so connecting the letters isn't taught or practiced.



Fun Letters-cursive handwriting

Another cursive app that lets your child follow the proper sequence for writing cursive letters, and then trace the letter. Good feedback is provided. Also, this app has an activity to identify both upper and lower case letters. 






Type Fun

Want to improve your child's typing skills? An airplane glides across the screen, and in its stream is a word. Type that word before the plane gets to the other side of the screen. Whether your child is just beginning to learn keyboarding or is a seasoned typist...there's an activity I'm sure your child will enjoy.
There is a lite version as well as a paid app. 



iTypeFast HD

This app is for improving one's typing speed, by typing sentences. You can turn on the "real" typing sound and adjust the speed. Lots of "levels" for practice.




This app is designed to improve one's typing speed and efficiency. You can adjust the duration of a game if you have the paid app (vs. the lite version). Words appear on the screen and your child types them. The results are posted after each game...words per minute and number of words correct and incorrect.