Have fun learning to read and write basic alphabet sounds with Friendly Phonics.



Award-winning apps available for iPad and iPhone from the App Store.

Certified with the Educational App Store

Friendly Phonics has been reviewed and certified by the Educational App Store and is now part of their Teacher Library!

The app received a glowing 5-star review and has been matched to the English curriculum.


Educational App Store Certification Badge

How it works

Friendly Phonics is the first release in a series of wonderful educational apps, teaching basic alphabet sounds.

Whatever your age, ability or circumstances, learning to be literate in English is very important. Friendly Phonics makes this normally arduous task, simple, engaging and addictive!

The app was designed and created by internationally acclaimed educationalist and printmaker, Dawn Matthews. Whether you find literacy easy or virtually impossible, Friendly Phonics will make it a fascinating and enjoyable process to learn.

Amazing features

Friendly Phonics is a unique concept based on the simple premise of engaging users in a way that makes learning letter sounds and formations enjoyable - getting them to watch how to draw a letter, repeat what they just watched and get rewarded for their great work by viewing beautiful art pieces.

1. Select a letter

Start by picking any letter you like, and this will take you to the letter page.

2. View the animations

Enjoy the stunning hand-drawn animations on each letter page.

3. Listen to sounds

Tap on the feature letter or on the sentences, to hear them read out loud.

4. Draw the letter

Tap on the sketched letter and watch the fingerprint show you how to draw over it.

5. Reveal stunning artwork

As you draw, you'll reveal randomised artwork, exclusive to Friendly Phonics.

6. Unlock more artwork

Head to the settings page to unlock more artwork to reveal behind your letters.

Preview the Apps

Friendly Phonics: Basic Alphabet Sounds

2015 App Design Awards

Basic Alphabet Sounds App Icon


Multi-sensory teaching

Friendly phonics app is a phonics program based around age-old multi-sensory teaching techniques. The student sees the shape of the letter, feels the shape as s/he runs a finger over the letter, hears the sound of the letter and is encouraged to say the sound, all at the same time. More can be read about this in the book “Dyslexia – How to Win”. ISBN 9780975843833 by Dawn Matthews.

When a child, Dawn, the designer, can remember doing this repetitively on small slates every day at school.


Letter sounds and voice overs

To spell a word a student needs to associate the sound of a letter with the look or shape of that letter, so immense thought and effort has gone into creating the letter sounds.

They vary, in a random way and the voice recordings are taken from a wide age range, 5 years to 85 years. Variation encourages repetition because the students want to keep playing with this app to hear their favourite voice. All voices are recorded from real, ordinary people. As with the artwork, tiny imperfections can occasionally be heard. This is done deliberately to ensure that this app has a human feel. We believe people are best taught by other people rather than by automatons.

English is a very complex and creative language, and how a word is said is just as important as getting it correct. Put the stress on a different word or part of a word, as is done here, and the meaning alters in a subtle way.


Dawn works closely with other educational specialists and this app with its uniquely produced letter sounds also helps students with speech problems, for example Dyspraxia, Central Auditory Processing Disorder and Autism. To get it right, She had to set up her own recording studio and teach ordinary people how to say the sounds and read the sentences.

This is why all the sounds of breathing, lip and mouth movement have been deliberately kept. This is what a young student struggling with imperfect hearing, or motor problems learn to pay attention to the most. They learn from copying how others talk. This is why many students labelled as ADHD or having poor attention tend to lip-read. Dawn has discovered that most of her students learn to speak correctly by listening to mouth movements and breathing.

So by over-editing a letter, sound becomes too pure, and most sound recording studios are slowing down the learning of students, especially students with learning differences or problems. And again we must emphasise that what works best for dyslexics also tends to work best for everyone.

Education should be fun so enjoy this app. Don’t pressure or bribe your children into learning just give them Friendly Phonics and they will be having so much fun they will learn pain free without even realizing it.


Letter shapes

Traditional basic “ball and stick” letters are used in this app because these are simple and rhythmic and can be quickly remembered kinaesthetically as a shape.

Dyslexics have especially good kinaesthetic memories – they remember best by doing and recalling the muscles and movements involved in doing, and this applies to letter shapes as well as any task. Dyspraxic students need to keep practising this to improve their motor or muscle memory, and need to learn in a multi-sensory way because, for them, bits of perceptive information get lost inside their brains. Autistic students, who remember every letter they have ever seen, need the tactile information to help identify the real from the overload in their world. All other students will learn more quickly whilst using all their senses and hey… just enjoy it!

Cursive writing is no longer needed in an age of word processors and ball point pens, and tend to confuse students who struggle to remember the tiny flicks and curved adjuncts to letters, when they should be recalling the simple basic shape of the letter.


Learning the correct way to write each letter.

If, as the student grows s/he wishes or needs to hand write then it is important that the letters are formed and written correctly and in the correct direction so that one letter can be joined to another for fluid writing. Dawn ensures this happens by initially demonstrating the letter formation with a fingerprint, (well actually her own thumb print). This demonstration can be watched as many or as few times as desired.

As the student’s finger runs over the touch screen an image begins to appear, one of over 100 different images programed to appear randomly. When the pupil has correctly drawn the letter the whole image fills the screen as a reward for a letter well written., and the sound is heard by one of our specialist voice over team members.

Letter shapes are deliberately kept wide and interesting so that completing this task with little unsteady, or old arthritic fingers is easy and a student’s own writing style can be maintained. If the letter is not formed correctly then the full image will not appear, and the student is encouraged to try again. The original demonstration can be rerun at any time.

Students cannot choose the image they want to see because repetition is the key to learning. The student wants to keep repeating this action to see the next image and the next…..

In the words of Richard Branson, a rich and famous dyslexic: “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.”

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

This is the first if a series multisensory educational apps teaching English. Then we start on the fun writing games………

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” John Ruskin

Available on iPad and iPhone.

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Friendly Phonics 2: Must-Know Digraph Sounds

Must-Know Digraph Sounds App Icon

English has often been described as the most descriptive and creative language. But first we have, unlike most other languages, to learn the secret code of how to spell it. Forget anything you have been told about English spelling being logical and simple. Its not, in fact much of the spelling is just plain dumb. You will notice this as you progress through friendly phonics.

Luckily we have made this app even more beautiful and interesting than the last one, and just as addictive and fun. This will make learning to read and write in English enjoyable and distract you from falling into the trap of getting just plain confused and frustrated by how many different possibilities there are of spelling simple words.

Digraph, like so many words, has Greek and Latin origins and literally means “2 letters”. They are pairs of letters that together make a sound different than each letter alone, unlike a blend, where both letters are heard or spoken.

It sounds logical but some digraphs sounds can have two different sounds, like “ow”, and some sounds like “ar” and “ir” can be made in several ways. But you don't have to know this or understand why to learn English. Just have fun and try not to think about learning and suddenly you will realise that you know how to spell and read.

This app is called “Must Know Digraphs” because these are the ones you must know to navigate the written page. There are though, lots more of them lurking away in English spelling, which is why we intend to keep making new apps and to ensure that each one is different and more intriguing than the last. We are listening to what you say about us and your feedback helps us in designing the next app and to ensure it’s better than the last. It’s a fun way of enjoying your spare time and learning, possibly, a new language.

Art work again by world famous artist Dawn Matthews and put together by a new, young, talented and very innovative apps team, this has some new voices and inspiringly different animations. Buy the extra images for more pleasure.

Remember that although Dawn, is now very successful as an educational consultant as well as a writer and artist she never actually learnt properly to read until she was 8 and her spelling right through high school, in a before-computer world, was at best, described as bizarre.

This app teaches in the way Dawn learnt, and extends this multi-sensory teaching to cover the more complex and difficult areas of spelling and reading in English.

Designed and built by creative thinkers, who believe in pushing the limits if technology, to achieve the very best, and tested on many students of different ages and cultures, please enjoy Friendly Phonics 2 - Must Know Digraph Sounds.

Happy learning and look out the next in the series which covers every dyslexic school kids' worse fears, the dreaded "silent e rule". The rule that causes non-English speaking adults to give up learning English more than any other.

This app is second in a series currently being made that should ensure that every one, what ever his/her age or back grown can learn English without stress and while actually having fun.

The app was developed by Dapper Apps Pty Ltd.

Available on iPad.

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Friendly Phonics 3: Bossy 'e'

Bossy 'e' App Icon

Simple word building and silent “e” endings.

Whatever your age or background, if you are struggling with the basics of English spelling and reading then Friendly Phonics are the apps for you. When everything else has failed then turn to these apps. Better still start with this series of apps because the teaching methodology has been tried and tested over decades. And because they are the most exciting, stunning and fun teaching apps you are likely to find.

The apps are intended to be used in sequence starting with the basic alphabet, but if there are just some aspects of spelling you are stuck on then they can easily be used individually as each is independent of the rest and no training or reading is needed.

This is the third in the award winning Friendly Phonics app series, and they just keep getting better, with more voices, more images and complex, hypnotic rotating animations.

Let us introduce you to a new character in our alphabet, Mr. “Bossy e” who has his own personality and sound.

What is commonly taught as the “silent e “rule is a really stupid and horrible feature of spelling to impose on our kids, and on foreigners trying to grasp basic English. But unfortunately its here, has been around a long time and …well…. we are stuck with it!

Most educational experts describe the difference between the vowels sounds in “hat” and “hate” by labelling them as “long and short vowel sounds”. As a result many students sit muttering to themselves in an attempt to decide, yet again, which sound is longer than the other; and secretly asking again, what a vowel sound is? Children naturally refer to the “a” sound in “hat” as the “sound of the letter” and the “a” sound in “hate” as the “name of the letter”. So this is how Dawn teaches them. If you are a parent helping your child this a good basic description to use.

Dawn observes how students naturally work out language for themselves and uses their system, instead of imposing some unnatural, “experts” explanation. Students will mostly sound out all the letters, as it does in this app, and then, with repeated practice, remember that when the bossy “e” is on the end the vowel sound changes from the sound to the name of the letter. It does not matter why the spelling is how it is or how you learn it. Just knowing it is good enough.

Again there are 2 subtle errors in the text, to keep you alert - so subtle that they development team have not yet found them; be the first to do so.

This app consists entirely of words, like “hat” and “hate” that spell two different words when adding an “e” at the end, and comes with a huge variety of images that are enhanced and subtly different when the “e” is added.

Dawn had trouble with this spelling rule right through school and developed her own little squiggle that she put on the ends of words when uncertain if it had an “e” on the end or not. But then computers came into existence, and although they help massively with spelling, there are just so many words that say something quite different when a “bossy e” is added on the end, and also so many words that have (like have) an “e” on the end for no reason at all. (These will be covered in a future app). So unfortunately its important we learn them.

By sounding out each word letter by letter this app also teaches basic word building skills. The letter and digraph sounds everyone has learnt in the first two apps are now put together to form actual words, sometimes with blends, so sceptics, and there are so many is Asia, who do not believe that English is made up of sounds as well as names, get to understand what phonics is all about. Its not good enough to merely know the sounds, one has to also know how to put them together (word building) when spelling and break them down when reading. We also cover breaking words down into syllables in the next app, already in production, as well as really stupid “tricky” sounds, like “tion” and eigh”. So don’t worry if you still get stuck on some words.

All images and concepts again by Dawn Matthews and developed by the same app team in Perth Australia.

You can now see us all on this page holding our silver app design awards. The hardest part about this app was persuading these beautiful people to be photographed and these photos published! Gene, who is now 90, wanted utter darkness when photographed, Lily and Sadie kept laughing as they heard his own voices, and most of the development team tried really hard to hide behind their computers! Daniel was great though. Always works with small children.

Available on iPad.

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Friendly Phonics 4: Tricky Sounds

2017 Tech Design Awards

Tricky Sounds App Icon


Friendly Phonics 4 – Tricky Sounds - completes the Friendly Phonics apps quartet by professional artist and educationalist, Dawn Matthews.

Let me introduce you to another cool Friendly Phonics App –Tricky Sounds. This app works in the same simple way as the other three, but all images, voices and sounds are completely different.

The four Friendly Phonics apps together form a quartet of apps that completes the Curriculum of letter, digraph and trigraph sounds, word building, blends, the silent “e” rules, as well as breaking down/building words using syllables - in English. Although initially designed to help students with learning differences in the primary level of education, all students of any age or culture seem to love these apps. They also cover, the use of pronouns (very different in English from many other languages) in a happy, simple and addictive way.

This, the last, focuses on the surprising, the weird, the beautiful and the cute, with over 30 different face images appearing as each sound is completed, together with 20 new animations. Whilst you will recognise many of the excellent voice technicians from the first three apps, more have been included on this, the slightly more adult app.

It would, of course, be impossible to include every spelling rule or sound in English, as there are hundreds of them, and far too many for our brains to manipulate correctly - so apps from now on will be focusing on the irregular or “stupid” words which will be taught in quite a different way.

As the apps progress from letter sounds, through to tricky sounds, the art changes from natural colours and shapes (an important part of vision training if the student is to appreciate colour and shape when an adult), to more sophisticated expressions and actions, to explore, empathise with, laugh at or just enjoy.

Learning to read: the myriad of varied expressions and body language in animals and more particularly in people is, in my opinion as essential in a student as learning to decode English.

Dawn firmly believes that, “To teach is to learn twice” - Joseph Joubert

Available on iPad.



Meet the Team

Gene with awardGroup planning at Dapper Apps in PerthLilly and Sadie
Dawn MatthewsGene and Daniel recording the voiceoversRos recording her voice overs
Dapper Apps team with Dawn and her app award Meeting in Dawn's gardenRos and Daniel recording Friendly Phonics

A message from Dawn Matthews

“Being dyslexic, epileptic, and dysrpraxic, ADHD and CDPD I get bored easily so have several concurrent careers, including being a qualified teacher; lecturer; writer; designer of educational programs and games; and an educational consultant behind Dyslexia Testing. I get the most satisfaction from turning sad, anxious faces into happy confident ones, but I enjoy most being an artist, printmaker and designer. See Dawn Matthews Art.

I love the freedom of working how I want to and being free to use my own strengths without tight deadlines, just as this app allows.

I have dedicated my whole life to helping kids and adults, especially those, who, like me learn and think differently because every one of the thousand upon thousands of students and families I have helped, have been special and gifted. Bringing out a gift in a kid or adult who believes s/he is stupid, as I did, throughout school, is the most rewarding thing you can do. Teachers predicted I would become a shop assistant.

In the words of Albert Einstein,

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

I feel as though, despite being very ill for most of my life, I have experienced one of the most fulfilling lives ever. And I love, love, LOVE my work. I discovered that with learning differences or problems, what works for dyslexics works equally for every one.

I did not find out that I was dyslexic until I was 22 and half-way through art college. I became a qualified teacher and lecturer purely to help other people with learning differences. I wasn’t satisfied with mainstream teaching and like to think outside the box.

I discovered apps and was able to combine everything I enjoy into Friendly Phonics while helping both adults, students and people learning English as a second language (I also work in Thailand and Malaysia).

The system I apply has been used for decades and the educational ethos reflects how I, and my grandfather before me, learnt. Remember the days when very few people left school illiterate, even though many, like my father, only attended for a very few years? The key to learning is wanting to repeat because you are having so much fun, and in making each repetition unique and exciting. Why spend hours each week going over and over explicit or implicit phonics worksheets?

Friendly phonics is designed, like my other educational courses, to be ageless and suitable for any culture; anyone can learn literacy very quickly and enjoyably. Friendly phonics has no punishment, no one saying “no” and certainly no one makes you feel stupid. Everyone can learn at his or her own pace.

It can be used alongside any other program and follows recommended educational guidelines. Smart and exciting.

Each new page and action not only utilises everything I have learned in 60 years but I have personally painted over a thousand images that appear randomly and 26 specially hand drawn animations. Every action, ever letter, brings about a new and unexpected reward.”

Friendly Phonics is endorsed by Dyslexic Centre Australia Incorporated.

Download Friendly Phonics