Hairy Phonics 1
Hairy Phonics is a great app to initiate learning of phonics at home or at school. Using humorous animations and clearly pronounced spoken phonemes, this app provides a fun way for children to be introduced to nine phonemes and to learn to use and recognise them in words. Subsequent apps in the series build upon the learning.
This fantastic app is part of a series from developers Nessy Learning that aims to help young children with the initial stages of learning to read. This is a free app on android and is also available as a paid-for app on IOS. This specific app focusses on the tricky stages of learning consonant digraphs - two consonants that make a different sound when blended together than you might expect from their separate sounds, for example: ch, ck, ff, ll, ng, sh, ss, th, zz. One of the leading comments on the description of the app is that it aims to bring phonics to life. I would say it certainly does this, and more.
The design of the app is extremely appealing and has clearly been thought out to appeal as much as possible to young children. The use of a gaming format within the app - trying to save the ‘Hairies’ from an icy blast that has frozen them solid - is also very successful in keeping the user engaged. As an educator and parent it is also clear to see that the developers are well aware of how young children learn to read and there is definitely a large amount of phonic knowledge that has gone into creating this app.
When you first open the app you are introduced to the main page where you have a couple of different options. These include moving onto the game itself, finding information on how to access the game or finding out more information about the developer. In clicking on the option to find out how to play the game the user is taken to a different screen. On this there is an extremely well thought out, pictorial, and written description of how you can access the app. There is also the ability to reset the game status from this memory which is also useful. On the information tab about the developer the user is taken to a different page where they see what else the developer offers and a link to their website should they require further help. The developer's website itself is a really useful tool. On it there is a lot of information about their products along with extra help information, should it be needed, for accessing the apps. However, one of the strong points of the app is the extra information they have available for both parents and teachers. This includes lots of extremely useful tips and hints for working with dyslexic children.
Once the user has selected to start the app they are given a short animation that shows the 'Hairies' being trapped in blocks of ice. You gather from this that it is your job to try and unfreeze them. This happens by working your way through a couple of games that unlock the further you get through the app. The first part helps the child in their understanding of the sound itself. Through an animation, they are presented with the sound in the context of a word, with some repetition of the actual sound that is being focussed on. This is done in a clear British accent. Once you have been given this you are then able to learn the letter formations of the sounds. The app shows the user how to write the letter correctly, with the correct movement, and then an opportunity is given for the user to do it themselves. After they have successfully achieved this they move on to the more game-like aspect of the app. Using the correct sound the user has to spell a word to help the ‘Hairie’ across an ice bridge. Correctly getting four of these means that the Hairie can collect a crystal which unlocks the new sound. There are plenty of opportunities within the game for the user to have support if they are struggling. By clicking on the different blocks (that need to be rearranged correctly to get the right word) the sound is replayed nice and clear. If the user has forgotten the word they are trying to spell then they can click on the character at the side and have the whole word read out for them. As they move through the four words they get slightly harder with a longer word at the end. The aim of the app is to unlock all the ‘Hairies’ and therefore all the sounds, learning about each one through the games and letter formation activity as you go along.
This app is pitched perfectly to the right level, repeating words with the sounds broken down into smaller blocks to aid the user in understanding and application. Overall this is a highly successful app that helps young children in the initial stages of learning to read.
From the Developer
Mastering phonics is the best way to learn to read.
After the alphabet the next step is to learn consonant digraphs -
where two consonants join together and make one sound.
- Learn 9 phonemes (sounds): sh, ch, th, ck, ff, ll, ss, zz, ng
- Guides your child through a structured sequence of learning.
- Phonic animations link an action with the sound.
- Trace the letters with your finger.
- Play games to blend the phonemes into a whole word.
- Save all the Hairies and see them dance.
Hairy Phonics develops phonemic awareness.
This is a particularly important skill for those with dyslexia.
Designed for 4-6 years.
Nessy apps have no advertisements or in-app purchasing.