Yum-Yum Letters by Kindermatica is simply quite yummy. It’s a learning to print app that has all the features we’ve come to expect, and more. For now, it for learning uppercase letters. New features are planned in future updates for lowercase letters, numbers, and prewriting activities. Additional reinforcers are also planned that include new characters and games. The extensive settings can be tailored to each individual student's needs, and also gives teachers and clinicians a clean and precise summary sheet for data collection for up to 30 students. Setting up the parameters for your student is easy and well thought out. On opening to the settings page, choose between Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) or Zaner-Bloser (ZB) for the font. Both a Recommended Order and an ABC order are offered. When selecting the Recommended Order (either HWT or ZB) the app has a smart feature that tracks the progress and sets an individual letter order based on proficiency. For example, if a child displays adequate control when forming straight lines but struggles with curved letters like B and R, the app collects this data and assigns further practice accordingly. Because it is a function within the app, a child is gently guided towards mastery with a focus on the correct formation. Teachers or parents can at any time view progress reports that show a number of attempts, mistakes and whether a letter has been mastered. There is also a choice of an Easy or Regular mode. The Easy mode is more for beginning learners, who still need the support of an app to sequence letter formation. It can also be used with kids who have low tone or diminished grasp and cannot quite control the drag from a crayon or pencil yet. By using the app, they get the motor practice of sequencing letter formation without extraneous distraction or adding to the demands of the task. Repetitions and rate of reinforcements via game play are also a thoughtful addition, as some kids just hate it when adults keep hitting the redo button, and that takes the pressure off by placing kids in control of the play. Kindermatica has included in the repetitions decreased prompts so that kids see their own progression immediately and can view it as an accomplishment worth rallying that little bit of extra effort. Verbal reinforcement is well paced and kids are able to toggle off sound and music, sound effects, or voice on screen if it gets to be too much. However, I love the sound effects, they are playful and kid appropriate.
This app is easy to grade the level of difficulty both up and down for kids of all abilities. By using your finger and gradually adding a stylus will improve hand function and ability over time. I love the illustrations and they can be used to full advantage for themed units, and with the promise of more themes to come in future free updates, I can’t wait to see and use them. Currently, the choice is between a caterpillar and a snowflake. It would be fun to bring in a tray of snow during winter months, or for you lucky ones in the yearlong sunshine, you could make your own snow. Painting letters in the snow or using squirt bottles to outline letters outside is always a blast and builds up little hand skills quickly. With a caterpillar theme, making like bugs and crawling, bear walking or getting inch-wormy to form BIG letters will help to develop hand arches and stabilize the shoulder girdle through weight bearing so that handwriting abilities progress. Making a video for replay making big letters is a way to show what you know! Teachers may need to make a tape outline to follow, but using gross motor skills will pay-off by helping imprint letter formation by laying down different pathways for access. Through the use of seasonal play, the letters come alive and are relevant by integrating them into a child’s natural environment.
The built in games are lovely and are unique with each playtime. Create a pattern for the caterpillar, then watch the colors come to life as a butterfly. Decorate a snowflake in six-sided symmetry. The visuals alone in these games help teach kids about symmetry, patterns and beginning visual discrimination. I did have difficulty at times with saving work from one session to the next and with the sound production, but those are minor issues that can be adjusted in an update.
Yum-Yum Letters is a TWA Top Pick, and one that promises to coordinate a variety of skills and learning themes in the classroom. I love the easy layout, ability to keep data and appreciate that the theme is consistent throughout letter formations. It helps keep the focus on the letter itself and presents the alphabet as a cohesive whole rather than random lines and activities.
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 on 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 have been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.