Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Read Write Phonics App Review

I mentioned before that I am now somehow the owner of a phone that's considerably smarter than me.  So much so that I'm still having difficulty working out how to answer calls, and only discovered yesterday that it wasn't set up to receive picture messages.  This gives you some idea of my phone-related talents.

Typically of a 21st century child though, Squeaky has no such concerns.  My old, non-functioning dumb-phones (the opposite of a smart phone) hold no interest for her any more.  Mine is fascinating.  I don't really want to encourage her to see my phone as a toy, it's on a 2 year contract & I'd kind of like to get to the end of the 2 years without wrecking it.  But there are times, supervised, when a phone is a rather good distraction.  I'd like the distractions she gets involved with to have some sort of educational value, rather than just cartoons.

I was really pleased to be offered the chance to review Read Write Phonics, a new app developed for Android phones (an iPhone version is being developed to be released later in the year).  The app is designed for children aged 3-6 years, and aims to help teach them the 44 phonic sounds that make up the English language (and you thought the alphabet was just 26 letters!), write basic letter shapes, and how to blend the different sounds to make words.

B-A-T. Bat.
At 2, Squeaky is still a little bit young for the finer points of the app, but that didn't stop her trying.  She loved the sun logo at the start, and was fascinated by the voice reading the letters and words, and did start to copy the words after a few attempts.  While she is playing on her own in this photo, she can't actually operate the app herself yet, so we play together.  That makes it a great bonding activity, as we can talk about the words as well.

The app was developed by parents Simon & Seema, eager to encourage a love of reading in their son, and to help him on his way before starting school. They found there wasn't an app on the market that did this, and so they made their own!  They researched phonics programmes used in schools, and created an app that works alongside these, using the correct sounds, and encouraging children to do the same.

The app is voiced by a friendly sounding female voice, which is lovely and clear, without an accent.  Squeaky liked the voice, and enjoyed starting to copy her in the Read and Phonics sections of the app.  The Read section has beautiful, simple, illustrations of the words, and this is the section we've spent the most time with so far, as she's able to recognise the pictures, and to start to recognise that the written word means the same thing as the picture and spoken word.

The Write section is still far in advance of Squeaky's capabilities at this stage, but in the interests of a full review, I tried it out myself.  I liked the little green pencil that traces the letter shapes before you take your turn, it really reminded me of the "magic pencil" in Words and Pictures on tv when I was in school.  I found tracing the letters well enough to get a 3 star result quite difficult, though that might be because my sausage-fingers are too big and I couldn't see where I was going. As the app is designed for children, with smaller hands, I suspect they would find it much easier.  (Also, I have appalling handwriting, that might have contributed.  This is a blog and not a handwritten diary for a reason, you know!)

I really like the fact that the app does work on different levels, there are simple words and longer ones, and the three areas of phonic learning, meaning the app can grow with the child. I think that represents great value for money, rather than purchasing an app that concentrates on a single aspect, then having to look for another as your child progresses.

Take a look at this video, which shows the app in action.

Read Write Phonics is available from Google Play for £1.49.

I was provided with a free download of the Read Write Phonics app for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  I am not a member of any affiliate schemes or programmes, links are provided for your convenience, I will not receive any reward for their use.

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