Hairy Phonics 2
A great app to initiate learning of phonics at home or at school.
This is a fantastic app which is part of a series from developers Nessy Learning which aims to help young children in the initial stages of learning to read. This is a paid for app on android (though very reasonably priced) and is also available on IOS format too. This specific app is a follow on from second app in the series Hairy phonics 2 and sensibly follows the stages of learning to read via phonics. The focus of this app is on vowel digraphs which are two vowel sounds joined together to make one sound. The app covers: ai, ay, ee, ea, ie, oa, oi, oy and oo.
The design of the app is extremely appealing and has clearly been thought out to appeal as much as possible to young children. In using 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 in the app. 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 is gone in to creating this app.
When you first open the app you are introduced 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 website to the developer 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 in 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 information on dyslexia with tips and hints about working with dyslexic children again for parents and teachers. All this information is extremely useful.
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. You are given the sound within a word through an animation with some repetition of the actual sound that is being focussed on. This is done in what sounds like a very 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 correctly write the letter, 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 the more game 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 given 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.
The app is pitched perfectly to the right level, giving words that are repeated with sounds broken down to aid 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
Hairy Phonics 2 introduces the next set of phonemes that every child needs to learn. Two vowels join together and make one sound (vowel digraphs).
- Learn 9 phonemes (sounds): ai, ay, ee, ea, ie, oa, oi, oy, oo.
- 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.
- 6 new Hairies dance with the mega Hairy.
Hairy Phonics develops phonemic awareness. This is a particularly important skill for those with dyslexia.