Based on the wonderful book by Chris Judge, The Lonely Beast ABC app, by James Kelleher, helps young children learn the ABC’s with an over the top fun and engaging presentation. The interactive components feature “just the right amount” of playfulness to stay on topic without losing focus on the target area of instruction. Each letter in the app is portrayed first as a symbol – and then sounded out with the letter in the context of a word. And it is not always the expected word – which adds to the overall enjoyment for both kids and educators. For example, on the “A” page, you are expecting “A” for apple, only to find that “A” is for a teeny tiny ant on top of that apple. The “E” page is hilarious, and one that I encourage you to discover on your own.
I love how the app is constructed, as it is just perfect for kids that have auditory or visual sensitivities. There is no extraneous music or visuals flashing at you unexpectedly. Each child has control over how much input they can handle, and there are many layers for each letter to explore if you choose to expand on it. The artwork and narration are clean and uncluttered, allowing the user time to process the material. This app really has the feel of a book, and you can almost smell the hint of paper in the illustrations. The narration is simple and matter of fact, without highs or lows in pitch or tone, which makes the app inviting and safe to explore independently.
I like that some of the letter pages bring up the vocabulary of previous letters, such as the boat and the crab appear on the letter “S” for the shell. It helps to reinforce previous learning, and is such a wonderful way to ask questions or start a story – “Oh my, do you see the boat?… Where do you think they are going?”… “Hey, remember that crabbie?” Many of the letters have a variety of choices to choose from as with the letters “H” or “K” you can either outfit the beast with a variety of hats to wear or balls to kick. The Drums and Xylophone are mini apps in themselves and encourage musical play. My only recommendation would be to have a page button where I could locate any letter on the fly in future updates.
Story apps are a natural springboard for off screen play to reinforce application to everyday routines. Letter hide and seek is a lot of fun. It would be a blast to use this app as a launching pad for such off-screen activities as acting or playing the part of the beast and discover letters or identifying sight words. Learning the “Robot” dance is definitely on my to-do list.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently, works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.