Beginning with the opening screen and spying that Mondrian inspired logo, you just know you’re going to be in for some fun with Literary Safari’s HangArt. It has some of the features that we love from classic games like Scrabble, Pictionary, and Mad Libs and combines them in one app cohesively. There are a lot of learning objectives packed into this little game; Whoops – I mean educational app. Kids K-3 will not even realize the extent of what they are taking in because the app is centered on play. There are 3 modes to choose from, Classic Hangman, Word Gallery (intro to grammar), and Story Studio; and each one is addictive. Plenty of research has gone into the creation of this app and it is well thought out and polished, i.e. the font Castledown is used throughout the app secondary to its child-friendly appeal to early readers and writers and ease of use for kids with dyslexia. A bonus for teachers, parents, and clinicians is the feedback given directly to kids is presented as “awards” received for their efforts, complete with bragging rights while also serving as an incredible reinforcer. This added touch keep kids wanting to move forward and progress along the game, and that ensures repeat play and more opportunities for the lessons to stick. There is also an adult’s dashboard with more detailed data on each kid’s performance. Options to turn off the music are available, as well as using uppercase letters throughout the app. The nice parts about the options are that kids are empowered to select which ones they want. Classic Hangman includes the option for first and/or last letter clues. So, with that, let’s go in so you can take a peek.
Play Hangman, opens to a screen with a drawing pad and the classic layout of hangman. There is no clue how to proceed, and so the art of learning through experimentation and discovery begins. Do you use a vowel first or add some consonants? As you find the correct letters, the drawing pad gradually reveals a picture of the word. This gives kids another pathway in which to participate, whether they are visual or auditory learners. Trying out different plans of action, teaches kids to be flexible in their ability to problem solve. To succeed, they need to stay open to the moment, and see the outcomes from their input and adapt. Failure to uncover the word results in a hung jury…and its curtains for the little chalkboard guy. Tracing the correct word serves as a win, and then players are given the word to trace. Players are also given the ability to rate difficulty for uncovering the word, which makes them both more invested and gives them the motivation to keep going. All correct answers go into the Word Gallery.
The Word Gallery is super cool. It hangs all your newly discovered words on a line, complete with its illustration. Each word is sorted into its role as a part of speech – whether it is a Noun, Adjective or Verb. This may seem like a minor point, but it is impactful on a visual level as it shows the sorting and categorization help provide powerful information on language. It is what takes eight from being just a number to a descriptor. By tapping on a picture, the word is sounded and the opportunity to draw that word is displayed. Love this feature for kids that have trouble initiating. By modeling the word, concept, and its use, it sets the inertia to try and draw it in motion. This aids in retention of the material by bringing the sense of kinesthesia on board. Word Gallery is truly a multisensory approach to learning vocabulary and writing and illustrates a trifecta of visual, auditory, and movement in learning about language and how it is used.
In Story Studio, shaking the iPad shuffles up your words, and displays 6 of your words for a story starter. You are able to swap pictures for others that make your story a bit more cohesive, but the opportunity to make something zany is infectious. And as an adult, it is hard not to get the giggles over these whoppers of tales. Stories are saved, and can be edited for later. Although tracing the word in hangman is embedded in the game, younger kids can practice tracing individual letters with Letter Practice. Each letter comes with an illustration and its phoneme sounded out.
Literary Safari clearly has a hit on its hands with HangArt. It is amazing what the app encompasses. Literary Safari promises a “literary playground” of activities and has done so brilliantly. This is a TWA top pick, and a delightful find!
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.