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Cambugs Letter Sounds

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Cambugs Letter Sounds is a great app for teaching preschool children letter sounds. The learning technique used is spaced repetition and it is modelled after the manual style of learning with flash cards, a very effective way for ensuring that children will memorise and retain the sounds they learn. Bear in mind that the learner will need constant external guidance and explanations from parents or teachers. The app has been developed by educational psychologists and in partnership with the University of Cambridge and we believe it has educational value. Overall Cambugs Letter Sounds receives 5 stars EAS Certification.

Teacher Review

What this app does differently is that it focuses on the letter sounds and not on the letter names. It is more appropriate to start teaching the sounds of the letters first, because knowing their names is not necessary to read or write. Cambugs Letter Sound is designed to be used in a collaborative way, so parents and teachers will have an active role in guiding the children through the app and assessing their learning.

Cambugs Letter Sound has 3 learning activities:

Sorting:  This is the first activity that your child needs to complete. You will have to ask the child what sound the letter makes. If he knows the sound you can drag the letter to the ‘Known Sounds’ pile, if there is any hesitation or doubt moves it to the ‘Unknown Sounds’. You can also tap the ‘Sound Hint’ button to hear the correct pronunciation of the letter sound. Don’t forget to encourage the children while they progress with identifying the letter sounds.

Learning:  At this stage the child focuses on the learning of the unknown sounds identified in the previous activity mixed with the ones that they know. Repetition is the mother of all old saying that proves to be the key concept for this type of learning.

Testing:  The child will have to say the letter sounds as quickly as possible if you choose to time the tests.  Learning apps that use limits and timers are good because children will like the challenge of beating their scores and times.

The reward system is very simple: for each new learned sound, children will get a new bug in their Bug collection. The bugs are cartoon-like and very colourful but there‘s not much you can do with them: they can just be moved around and arranged on the screen. Visually the rest of the app looks professional and it is well presented and this helps the child to focus and not be distracted while practising. 

There is also a way of assessing and understanding the child’s learning. On the main page of the app, in the bottom right corner there is a ‘Teacher’ button where you can see the statistics and check how many and what sounds are known. The information can be protected by setting a password. We believe that this data collection system is what makes the app useful as you can easily follow their progress.

The sound recordings are really good and will help to get across the correct letter sounds. The audio used is British English so if you’re using other variants of English, outside the British Isles, we recommend you to check each sound before you use the app and use your own sounds as an example. Cambugs Letter Sounds includes all the elements of the teaching flow: introduction, revision, teaching, practising and applying. We could easily see this app used in a school environment and in one-to-one teaching sessions. The free app allows only 2 users but you can add multiple accounts if you upgrade for just $1.99.

Most of the parents will first try to teach their children the letter names rather than the sounds but the knowledge of letter sound correspondences is essential in reading and writing. Phonological skills are strong predictors of how well children learn to read. This is a free app that you should not miss if your children are at this stage of learning and we awarded it with a 5 star EAS Certification. We also reviewed the Cambugs Phonics app which continues the process and teaches children the first phonics they need in order to become confident readers.


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From the Developer

Cambugs Letter Sounds teaches children the initial phonemes (letter sounds) which are the first step on their journey to become fluent, confident readers.

Cambugs Letter Sounds has been developed by educational psychologists and parents, working in partnership with the University of Cambridge. We know the importance of parents taking an active role in their children’s learning, so we developed an app where parents/teachers and children work together.

Cambugs Letter Sounds is targeted at pre-readers, as well as struggling older readers. It uses evidence-based techniques that research has shown helps children develop their reading skills. You will notice in this app that children engage in lots of repetition — this is because this is a very effective strategy for ensuring that children remember and retain the sounds that they learn. Cambugs Letter Sounds also has a timed test for ensuring that your child is able to remember their letter sounds quickly and fluently — this is because fluency is a key skill needed for becoming a confident reader.

◆ Developed by educational psychologists using teaching techniques that we know work.

◆ Teaches your child their letter sounds to a level where they can demonstrate confidence and fluency — key skills needed for later word reading and comprehension of text.

◆ Uniquely designed as a joint activity so that you are guiding your child through their learning. Think of it as being a bit like sitting down and reading a story with your child.

◆ When children learn a new sound they are rewarded with a ‘Cambug’. These bugs have been designed by children for children.

◆ Statistics screen shows you how many letter sounds your child knows and which sounds they need to learn. This is very useful if being used in a school setting.

Cambugs Letter Sounds includes four activities :

‣ Sorting: Sort letter sounds into two piles (sounds your child knows and sounds that have yet to be learned ). This initial activity ensures the app is personalised to meet the specific learning needs of your child.

‣ Learning: Children learn a new letter sound alongside letter sounds that they know already. This is called ‘incremental learning’ and ensures your child remembers their sounds.

‣ Timed Test: Children are timed to see how quickly they can say each sound. The app automatically puts letters that your child has not yet learned fluently back in the unknown pile to be re-learned at a later date. If your child likes the competitive element of the timed test, switch on the Time Challenge.

‣ Bug Collection: Your child will find a new bug in their collection whenever they learn a new sound and they can visit this at any time!

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Learning Outcomes

Key Features

In-App Purchases - No