This summer, several of my young speech and language clients are working on early literacy skills. I’ve been structuring sessions around a letter of the month using movement play, sensory bins, arts and crafts, books, and picture exchange. As a result, caregivers have inquired about apps to continue encouraging sound play at home. This week, I have compiled a review of three simple ABC apps that are sure to please toddlers, preschoolers, and maybe a few Kindergarteners too.
First up: Starfall ABCs by Starfall Education, which is best suited for the young, toddler and preschool crowd who are ready for some literacy exposure. While I liked how this app emphasizes hearing initial sounds paired with visuals and interactive graphics, the picture images were not as crisp and clear in comparison to those I have seen in other apps. What makes this app stand out though in comparison to the one below is the developers set a control so you cannot hear a sound or word repeatedly if you keep tapping the image. The pace is perfect for busy fingers that may click feverishly at visuals. This is what the developers have to say about Starfall’s ABC’s: Children delight as they see, hear, and interact with letters and sounds in words, sentences, and games. They learn to recognize letters and develop skills that will ensure they become confident leaders. All children, and especially English language learners, benefit.
Next in line: Interactive Alphabet ABCs by Pi’ikea Street. The visuals are clear and colorful in this app which is most suitable for toddlers and preschoolers; however, if you are not able to keep a watchful eye on your little ones as they play, it would be easy for them to continually hit buttons that would interfere with sound quality and teaching. You are not without options though. For one thing, you can set a baby made by holding down a tab, which plays the interactive scene automatically for each letter in ABC order. Another option is to activate the button in the lower left hand corner with the musical note to hear the ABC song. Since most of us are not apt to leave our iPhones and iPads in the independent hands of toddlers and preschoolers, you can encourage good listening and appropriate pacing and likely make good use of this educational app. This is what the developers have to say about Interactive Alphabet:
✓ Universal app for iPad/iPhone/iPod: You can use it at home or on the go! Buy it once, take it everywhere.
✓ Develops reading foundational skills
✓ Uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and phonics sounds
✓ Memorable and unique interactivity keep your child coming back for more
✓ Fun and upbeat Original Music — keeps you dancing, not wincing (parent friendly!)
✓ Phonic Sounds
✓ Printable Crafts to take the fun offline!
✓ Great for Educators and Therapists to help with language and pre-reading.
✓ Aligned to Kindergarten Reading Foundational Skills in Common Core State Standards
Finally, the last app best suits Kindergarteners: Beginning Sounds Interactive Game by Lakeshore Learning Materials. While the little ones that I am working with are not ready for this app just yet, they will be some day and it is a gem! Once your young ones have a good handle on identifying the first sound in words, you can move to this cute game. First, you must select or have the app randomize three sounds for play. Next, you will see three columns on the left side with a target picture in each and nine picture coins on the right side. Tap and drag the picture that matches the starting sound as the one in the column. Items are named as you tap the image icons. If you make a mistake, the coin is out back into your sorting pile. This app provides a quick and easy, fun way to sharpen those beginning sounds skills. This is what the developers have to say about Beginning Sounds Sorting Game: Kids match words that share the same beginning sound! Children just “grab” fun picture balls and drop them into the correct spots on the board. For ages 4-7 years. Plus, check out the other Lakeshore Learning Materials apps: Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe Interactive Game and Letter of the Day Interactive Activities.
About the Author
Nanette Cote, MA, CCC-SLP has her own speech-language practice, Therapediatrics. She is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist in Naperville, Illinois who was has been practicing Speech Pathology for close to two decades. Her blog, speech2me, was named one of the top Speech-Language blogs for 2012. For more information about this practitioner, please visit speech2me Blog or Facebook