When it comes to the ABCs and apps, you can find almost every form of alphabet game and educational lesson possible. Most likely this is because these alphabet apps are easy to develop from a technical standpoint and because all developers know that parents are going to want to teach kids their ABCs. So, ABC Aliens is another variation on the theme, except that instead of humans or animals at a zoo or farm, colorful illustrated beings from outer space are teaching the letters.
The app is developed by Cambridge English Online, which states it has a decade of experience in creating cutting-edge online and mobile resources by online and mobile education specialists. With that much experience and supposed “cutting-edge” creativity, I would expect something more advanced than this. There is nothing wrong with the concept; it just is nothing new and will not retain a child’s interest for very long.
The app is geared toward either American or British English and has four different activities—purposely, I’m not calling them “games.” The first is on phonetics or the sound of the letters. The second is just hearing the alphabet as it is typically said. You have a choice of hearing the letters said in a cartoonish alien voice or with a child’s voice. You can also record a voice saying the letters and then play it back. Your children can also hear the letters when they are in the upper or lower case form.
The other two activities are for fun and learning. I played these on my iPod Touch, so the characters are quite small and it is difficult to see the letters on the aliens’ chests. This is one of those apps that is much better suited for the iPad, which has a considerably larger screen area. In these two activities, children are timed on how quickly they can tap each of the aliens in the order of their ABCs either forward or backward. Doing this in the given 30 seconds is quite a feat, especially for young learners. It was not easy, by any means, even for me. Again, this had to do with the size, but also in some cases the colors of the letters and the background; the “e,” for example is a light blue on the chest of a little bit darker blue alien. The differentiation between the two colors is slight.
That’s it. There are no spelling games, no find the hidden letter games, no think of some words that start with a certain letter game. The app says this gives kids a head start on the road to literacy success: I would say that this is an overstatement. There are also some bugs, such as losing the sound and having to signoff and back in again to get it back. I also don’t notice too much of a difference between the British and American pronunciation, since they are only saying letters. There are some tips for additional learning, such as asking the child to spell his or her name with the letters. However, since the letters are only pronounced and not actually written in word form, this does not provide much learning. Overall, I’d say that you could find many other ABC apps that are equivalent or better than this one.