Fun-Time Phonics!™ - Learning to Read
An app that focusses on helping young children to learn how to read through game-like activities that aim to keep the young person engaged in learning. The app does not teach memorisation but puts a focus on the ability of the young person to learn the patterns and sounds of letters and therefore build their comprehension in reading.
This app has been designed around the American National Reading Curriculum so it fits the American syllabus extremely well. However, the way it structures the learning and teaches young children how to read means that it could potentially be used outside of the US. Although, do be aware that there are many words that use the American English structure of sounds.
The premise behind the app is to help young children learn how to read through a fun and interactive way. Two fun, and accessible robots help guide young people through the learning of reading via phonemic awareness and there are plenty of interactive elements that keep the user engage throughout. The game play elements within the app certainly add a lot to its appeal and will have users coming back repeatedly, a strength of the app, as it is only through sustained practice that young children learn to read proficiently. The app itself is extremely easy to use and the user can manoeuvre their way around the app simply. The design adds to this as there are no ‘extras’ in terms of design that distract from the learning and the usability of the app, everything that is on the screen has clearly been thought through to maximise the learning as much as possible.
There is also a large amount of content on the app. Overall there are 126 different lessons that young children can work through and these lessons are split into different categories such as word sounds, short vowel sounds, consonant-vowel coarticulation etc. Within these categories there might even be more specific options such as the beginning word sounds and end word sounds in the ‘word sound’ category. Each lesson though is set out in a way that is not only sensible but focussing on the main processes in learning how to read and becoming more proficient. Once in the game play element of the app the user is guided through different games where there is a lot of repetition, something key in helping young children to learn to read. Sounds can repeated if the user is struggling and this differentiation is key in helping all abilities of children access the app. One area I would like to see developed is when the user gets something wrong. They are clearly told that it is the wrong answer but instead of allowing the child to then work out the right answer, or giving the correct answer the app moves on.
The app definitely feels like it is designed for the schools’ market although this doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be used at home too. However, there are a number of elements that the developer has added in which makes the app a great tool for teachers. Initially you can set up 5 different accounts on the app itself allowing you to work with numerous students. Due to this you can also track their progress on how well they are doing through the admin page. This page allows a teacher/educator to see which lessons have been undertaken and how well the user has done on each. It also gives the teacher a quick overview of lesson categories as well as the lesson titles so they can quickly see which lesson is going to be best suited to that specific user. The ability to then direct the learning and create a specific personalised program for the child is excellent especially as it also means you can track the progress that they are making. From this admin page the teacher can manage all the users, view success percentages and even clear the data should they need to start with new students.
This app would definitely work well in the education market and in schools in particular, especially with the ability to track the progress students are making and to create personalised learning for young children.
From the Developer
The Simplest, Most Effective Way to Learn to Read!
This full curriculum app is a fun, comprehensive reading program based on findings of the National Reading Commission. It uses two robots to teach lessons and activities to show children that spoken words are composed of individual sounds, and those sounds are written with letters. It emphasizes sound/spelling patterns, vocabulary, and comprehension, not memorization. This app ensures phonemic awareness mastery by focusing on vowel isolation which is commonly the most challenging, but most important part of learning to read. The colorful activities engage students through listening, thinking, speaking, and reading.
The app is composed of these four sections:
Section 1 - Teaches children that words are made up with sounds. Activities include beginning sounds, ending sounds, vowel sounds, and words that rhyme.
Section 2 - Teaches children each short vowel sound and the letter that makes that sound.
Section 3 - This section teaches consonant-vowel coarticulation, so children learn that each consonant uses short vowels to make different sounds that are used to form words that are read.
Section 4 - Teaches children to combine their new knowledge of consonant-vowel coarticulation and ending sounds to read their first words.
Grades: PreK, Kindergarten, 1st (First), 2nd (Second)
Subjects: Language Arts, Critical Thinking
Author: Robert Femiano
This program won the Tillywig Brain Child Award, 2015!
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