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ABC Gurus Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Amy Solomon on March 20th, 2015
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: DECORATING LETTER FUN
ABC Gurus allows children to decorate letters while listening to their phonic sounds as well as including word associations.
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Mr. Hat and the Magic Cube Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 6th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

"Mr. Hat and the Magic Cube" is a new interactive game for children involving kids being transported to a magical world after playing with a mysterious cube. They can’t go home until they help Mr. Hat find the cube’s stolen pieces.

This app combines both animation and games that help teach spelling and vocabulary, counting, matching, dexterity, and puzzles, getting more difficult each time you play. Being plot-heavy for a kids app, "Mr. Hat and the Magic Cube" contains 3D animated video clips rivaling those of serious adult games.

I do think, however, that it takes too long to be able to go home for a children’s game, and I found it to be tiring and a bit frustrating, even for an adult. I like that the app saves your progress, but when you solve the game, I really wish it would start over from the beginning.

Putting these issues aside, I really enjoy the magical world the developers have created. Part Willy Wonka, part Dr. Seuss, this world is trippy and maybe even a little creepy for some parents. I find this refreshing compared to the other soft and fuzzy learning apps we play. I am curious to see what happens in the next "Mr. Hat" application.

Interactive Alphabet for iPad - ABC Flash Cards Review

Posted by Amy Solomon on September 4th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

“Interactive Alphabet for iPad - ABC Flash Cards” is a new app that teaches letters, words and cause and effect for even the youngest players. It is highly interactive and in a word: Awesome.

This app opens up with a page of letters, bright and bold. After choosing a letter, you move to the interactive page. You hear the name of letter and the corresponding word being illustrated, and you can tap on these words to repeat. Each page has lots of discoveries to make, both with sounds and moving images. The navigation of this app is also very intuitive, and you can either move back and forth among the letters or go back to the main alphabet to choose your favorites. Having three music choices to choose from is also a nice touch, each of them being upbeat and fun, buy you can also turn off the music if you desire.

With so much to tap on, my 2 1/2 year old son just loves exploring this app, and it holds his attention like no other that he plays with. From finding and opening letters left in a mailbox for “mail” to playing a xylophone for “x,” the developers really have an understanding for what interests my son. I love this app myself; even the youngest kids will appreciate the cause and effects from all that tapping.

iPad App Teaches Kids to Read, Write

Posted by Bonnie Eisenman on August 11th, 2010
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Are iPads the future of education?

Well, maybe not. But there's no denying that "abc PocketPhonics" is an amazing app. A universal app—it works with both iPhone and iPad—PocketPhonics teaches the basics of reading and writing to young kids. Most surprising? It seems to work.

With reading, the app uses the "synthetic phonics" method supported by US, UK, and Australian governments. Kids are first taught letter sounds (instead of the names of the letters), including hybrid sounds such as "ch" and "sh." US and UK pronunciations are both included, so you don't have to worry about your kid picking up the "wrong" accent. (Darn!)

And for writing, the app demonstrates how to draw the letters, instead of just presenting pictures. Kids can then trace the letters' outlines on the iPad or iPhone using their finger. If you chose, the app will then grade their accuracy. I can see this being very useful for young learners especially—tracing with a finger is infinitely easier than using a pencil. Cursive and print alphabets are both included.

Finally, PocketPhonics rounds out its offering with a sound-based word "spelling game," which includes over 170 words with accompanying pictures. There's also a "ParentZone" area where parents can tweak the app's settings.

Oh, and it's only $0.99.

While I doubt that a single app will ever be able to replace real-life teaching, abc PocketPhonics certainly looks like a competent, comprehensive app. It won't teach letter names, but it can get pre-readers "hooked on phonics."

You do remember those old commercials, right? Don't you?

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