Thursday, April 26, 2012

REVIEW: Make a Word 1 by Abitalk


 Phonics Make a Word 1

by Abitalk

Abitalk  make a range of different educational apps focused on teaching children to spell using phonics.  Their apps specifically target different reading/spelling skills, such as long vowels and short vowels.  I find by having separate apps to work on different phonics helps to not overload the child with too much information at once.

Today I am reviewing Phonics Make a Word 1 which is a great app to work specifically on recognizing short vowel sounds while also teaching spelling.  I counted only 138 words in total but on the iTunes description it says that there are 30 words for each vowel, so 150 new words for your child to learn to spell whilst also gaining awareness in to the phonic structure and also being able to relate the word to the picture.

Having several Abitalk apps in  these different categories allows your child to focus on and perfect these words in a familiar format.  In Phonics Make a Word 1 they are mainly CVC words.  CVC words are words that begin with a consonant, followed by a short vowel and end in a consonant.

All parents and teachers want their kids to be able to spell and read easily, and studies have shown that learning phonics is an effective way to teach children to read.  Kids can use this app to perfect these skills and get a head-start on their peers!

MULTIPLE USER ACCOUNTS!!!!!  You can easily add new users and track each of their progress in the progress report section for each user.  My 5yr old son wasn't too happy with his name being in a pink love heart, but got over it quickly enough! 

(NB: this is an old screenshot - in version 1.02 the social media links have been removed - YAY)

I like that there is some room to customize the App, such as choosing between the letter sounds or names, you can have capitalized or lower case letters.

The most important custom settings feature for my use is being able to choose if the letters need to be placed in order or can be dropped randomly.  This is an important feature for me having 4 young kids of various levels as I am able to set the letters to be randomly placed for my 3 yr old, but I would expect my 5 & 7 year old to spell the word in the correct order.  By having this feature, this app can be appropriate for children as young as 2 up to about 7yrs old.

If your child is having trouble spelling the word, they just have to touch 'Spelling' and the word will be spelled out for them by briefly showing one letter at a time.  Once they have spelled a word, it is highlighted in the Word List (which can then be unlighted in the Progress Report section).

Click on these links to purchase Phonics Make a Word 1 on iTunes:

USA      Australia     Canada     Europe

Suggestions for the developer:

I would like to see the buzzer sound taken out when the letter is placed correctly in the word as you can not hear the sound of the letter very well.

It would be more exciting for the child if the image were to move/spin around once the word is spelled correctly as is done in ABC Phonics Word Family. Or maybe have the turtles carry the word off when it's finished? 

My kids weren't too interested/motivated by the 5 ribbons so instead of using the star ribbons as pre-rewards system you could cut the reward (the sticker the child is working towards) into puzzle pieces and have them along the top of the page where the ribbons are and highlight one piece when they spell words correctly.  Once they obtain all 5 pieces, they get to take a short break from the activity and put the puzzle together with the pieces they have earned.

If the custom settings could be 'hidden' in each users profile, so the kids could not easily access them and change it to suit them it would save me from swiping little hands away from that part of the screen numerous times each session!  If they were hidden, you could also move the option to delete the user in there, rather than the main page.

In my opinion, the Spelling tab could be removed.  I'm not sure why there are two tabs on the same page with this same function (the V character and the Spelling tab).

I find it interesting that the word knob (with a silent K) would be used in an entry-level phonics app.  

After playing with it for quite a while and completing several vowel groups - I never came across the bonus game that is mentioned in iTunes. 

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