Alphabet is a charming and surprisingly sophisticated letters app for iPad that teaches words in a wonderfully unique way for a letters app.
From the opening of this application, it is easy to tell that it is something special with the cast of colorful and creative monster characters parading across the screen, playing different instruments in ways that are quite captivating.
The app store is filled with many apps of this genre, with each of the 26 letters from the alphabet represented by a corresponding word and often including a short animated clip to further the understanding of both the letter and the word.
The same can be said for Endless Alphabet, yet this app truly stands out in a sea of others with a wonderful sense of style and polish, with delightful monsters pantomiming each word after a short letter puzzle is completed, as the letters needed to make up each word need to be dragged and dropped back into their rightful places.
I love how one selects a word in Endless Alphabet as the menu of pages is found within the large, wide mouth of a blue monster. Scroll left or right to select a word, or tap the letter of interest, which is also available on this page.
The words here are intriguing as well. Instead of the typical “Apple” or “Queen,” words like “Alarm” or “Quarrel” are chosen to be represented, as well as “Bellow,” “Cooperate,” “Gargantuan,” “Nosy,” or “Odor,” giving children a chance to learn some large, expressive words that will serve them well as they get older.
I really enjoy the quality of music found within, and it always makes me smile to see the group of monsters rush past the word in question, knocking the letters out of place in order for users to put the letters back into place.
Also of note are the phonic sounds the individual letters make as they are tapped or dragged, truly bringing them to life in a very delightful and with half a nod towards the subversive in a way that I greatly appreciate.
The animated clips are genius in both their wit and whimsy as well as creative and a bit cheeky, as one monster representing “Itchy” feels the need to shave himself bare or a purple monster who licks the word “”lick” and to his surprise, is licked back.
The narration included which explains each word is great as well - clear and conversational - doing a marvelous job of explaining these words that young children or those whose English is a second language will learn from.
It is a nice touch that a word button is included so the definition can be heard more than once, but I wish the animation could be re-played as well because children are sure to want to re-watch their favorite word animations more than once.
I also believe that the phonic sounds created by the letters when tapped can have an issue of style over substance as these phonic sounds spoken can come across as language-neutral utterances to anthropomorphize these letters instead of articulate letter sounds to learn from and emulate.
Words with spoken silent “E’s” are included so the words are not a sum of the sounds that these letters make, leading to confusion. Other times it can be unclear exactly which letter sound the character is trying to convey as some of them, like “R” and “T,” are saying their letter name and then the phonic sound they make, to the point that my five year old son who has begun taking his reading and phonic sounds very seriously has asked me to turn off these letter sounds as he finds them annoying and distracting, unfortunately not possible within this app.
Although the concerns about the use of correct phonic sounds are concerning, I do not consider these issues fatal flaws with such wonderful animated clips dedicated to such strong vocabulary words.
My son likes this app as well and enjoys spending time with this app although it would be nice if I could have the option to have the letters simply say their name instead of struggling with the less-than-perfect phonic sounds - not possible at this time as there is no option to alter or silence the phonic sounds offered.
As this is an “Endless Alphabet,” I wish I had more information about how more words are to be included in this app, which I can only presume will be part of free updates, but this remains to be seen.
Although this app will not be considered the most useful app to explain true phonic sounds, Endless Alphabet will be an alphabet word app that will entertain adults and help children learn the basic letter names as well as advanced words to use in their everyday life, and for this reason it is easy for me to recommend as long as parents understand just what to expect from this bright, colorful application.