AlphaTots is another fun, creative and educational iPad app from Spinlight Studio, with an iPhone version also available with the slightly different name of AlphaTots Pocket. This app, which teaches letter recognition as well as phonic sounds, is in many ways much like the earlier math app, TallyTots.
In fact, AlphaTots works the same way TallyTots does. When the app first opens, the screen is filled with a few rows of letter cards to choose from. Once a letter is tapped, the next screen is arranged with letters A to M on the top and N to Z on the bottom of the screen, leaving room in the middle for an interesting interaction illustrating the chosen letter. Like in TallyTots, an airplane pulls a large flag showing the letter in question, and the narrater says "lets learn about the letter ..." and pronounces this letter's phonic sound as well before the interaction begins. After the interaction is complete, the player can follow along with the next or previous letter in the alphabet or choose a new letter from the top or bottom row.
I have seen a few apps that use interactions and specific words - typically objects to illustrate the alphabet. I think that it is fun and interesting that in AlphaTots, the words used to highlight these letters are all action verbs, teaching various things kids can “do” as well as learning letters.
The selection used here are really cute such as building a robot, digging for treasure, or nibbling a cookie, and I like that many of them are puzzle-themed. Others change slightly each time they are played, such as “o” for “opening” which finds a bouquet of flowers behind one of three doors each time this letter is chosen. Some get a little physical, such as kicking a soccer ball into a goal or playing a mini-game of whack-a-mole. My favorites include the playing of music instruments, as the jazz music used sounds very good and a lot of detail can be seen, like the trumpet keys moving or the standup bass strings being highlighted as these instruments are played, or the mixing of blue and yellow colored water to make green. I do wish other color combinations were included as well, as the pouring is a lot of fun.
These interactions are each really fun and quite varied, but I did notice that these interactions are not designed to be done an infinite number of times, like many of the TallyTot interactions, something I am really fond of. It is easy enough to chose a letter over again if one chooses to do so, so this issue is a minor one. I really like the voice of the narrator used in this app, as I find her banter about these action words both before and after the letter’s interaction charming. I also appreciate how many of the vowel letters have two different phonics included, something that is overlooked in many phonics apps. Recently, Spinlight Studio updated some letter pronunciations based on educator feedback. It is really nice to see Spinlight Studio take feedback to heart.
My son has really enjoyed this app, and both my husband and I have fun using this app with him. I am looking forward to see what Spinlight Studio comes up with next.