I have been looking forward to writing this post for a little while. I was contacted a couple of months ago to see if the girls and I would like to review a new learning App not even out yet! Errrr…. YES! I do understand that many people feel technology is taking over our lives and that we should perhaps limit the amount of it we allow our children to be exposed to it. Sorry but I don’t and I won’t be persuaded otherwise. For me I believe it is an unavoidable aspect of life now whether we like it or not. We should embrace it for the sake of our children. Even waitresses don’t use an old fashioned note book and pen anymore. In our house there isn’t anything Hubby and I won’t turn to technology for to make life easier. Even our lights are controlled by our phones now.
Why use an App for learning?
So why not encourage the girls to learn through writing? Well I do. Ellie is actually very good at writing her name and she likes to practice all the time. We have wipe clean work books and non permanent markers that can be used and she loves it. But I find, and I know she does too, that it is a very two dimensional method of learning. Perhaps if I had a teaching back ground that wouldn’t be the case. The joys of using an App for me is it incorporates the learning of technology along with the subject matter. In this instance phonics.
Read with Fonics App
So down to this App, Read with Fonics. Initial impressions are really good. It has an eye catching monster (of the nice variety) as it’s button logo. This is Albee the Alien and he helps and encourages the kids throughout the game. The app is very quick to load which is a huge blessing. So many take a while to fire up and toddlers and preschoolers are not famous for their patience. The basis of this is to learn through levels. A bit like the traditional platform games. In each level there are mini ‘missions’ to complete. Once you have completed one you can move onto the next. The levels available are Water World, Forest World, Lava Land and Jelly City
It starts with the letter ‘A’ (very appropriate) in Water World. There are 7/8 sections or games to complete of varying difficulty before you can move onto the next letter. Firstly all the ‘A’s’ must be found. Then it moves onto dragging the letter into a word where it is missing. It is all very basic and age appropriate. The words are things like ‘cat’, ‘bat’ and ‘mat’.
How did we get on?
All of this Ellie (aged 4) was more than capable of completing by herself. There is one game that she needs help with and that is where you find the right word for the right picture. This is where my limited knowledge of phonics has come in handy. I say each work phonetically ‘B-E-D’ and then I let her tell me if that is the word she is looking for, or if she knows where it should go.
When you compete all the tasks for each letter the yellow level fills up the letter. The less errors made in that letter the more yellow you get. After about 5 letters Ellie worked this out for herself and now tried her hardest to get everything right so her letter can be all yellow. I think she has inherited her Daddy’s competitive streak. She even went back over some of the letters to try and get a better score.
This app if brilliant. I am well aware there are plenty of learning apps out there, we even have a few of them. Each have their own merits but here are 5 reasons I recommend getting this phonics App over many of the others.
- It is simple. So many apps these days are bold and noisy. Whilst this is great I find the girls get very distracted from any task they need to complete. Plus after a while I get fed up of hearing the same piece of music for the 4657590 time. With not music and no unnecessary graphics Ellie focused on this for a long time.
- It’s fun. This might seem contradictory from the point above but it isn’t. There is enough to look at and do to make it fun.
- I can help. I am no expert in phonics and like many people I know this is only something i have even heard of since having children. Nothing in here is so complicated I can’t help. There is a sound button to the top left so mid way through a game, if you need a reminder of the letter you are working on or how to say it phonetically you can push this to find out.
- It is ‘real’ learning. From what I understand children learn through play. I believe there is food for thought that role play should be available in schools until year 2 at least. Whilst I do 100% agree with this I am very conscious of the fact that Ellie is about to start school which brings with it more structured learning. This is a really good stepping stone to the structured and progressive learning kids encounter at school.
- It uses positive scoring. I didn’t really know what this was before. Negative scoring is when things are given a mark, such as out of 100%. This App rewards with stars. You can’t move on without all the starts but only progress can actually be seen and measured.
If I were to pick one thing as a negative it was the fact that you had to complete all of the games in one go to unlock the next level. This is a very minor issue and was just something that took some getting used to. Ellie is very used to navigating back to the main menu of games but once you do your progress for that letter is lost and you need to start again from the beginning. See, not a major issue. As soon as we realised this Ellie was able to make the decision to finish the task before stopping or knowing she would have to do it all again next time. It is only 7 or 8 tasks so it isn’t too bad.
Where can you get it?
Read with Fonics was founded by Sophie, a primary school teacher so you can be sure it is based on the educational requirements of children.
*I was provided with the app in exchange for an honest review. All words and opinions are my own.