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HangArt: Play Hangman, Draw Pictures, Tell Stories

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A fantastic app that helps young children to learn and embed sight words. By using a number of different features in a friendly, easy to use app it not only helps young children to learn and recognise words but also to write them and reflect on their own learning. This app could be used both in the home and in an education setting and wouldn’t be out of place in either.

Teacher Review

This app clearly has had a large amount of thought and research behind it, looking at what is not only going to engage young children into learning but educationally what they actually need to succeed. This is evident from the developer’s website where there is a whole host of further information on the company, the reasons for the app and how to make the most out of it. There also includes videos on the website which give even more information as well as a handy grownups guide to make sure they create the best learning opportunities through the app. Even the blog on the website is well worth a read as it highlights some points in the app which you may take for granted. For example the pictures used throughout the app were carefully thought through to make the app fully diverse and to dispel certain stereotypes. This is achieved in the app so well that you don’t necessarily notice it however in knowing it, brings a whole new level to the app itself.

The app is a take on the popular game of hangman however the aim is to use this is a vehicle to enhance young people’s understanding of words in recognising them and using them. Whilst playing with the app you find yourself fully immersed in it and this is down to the incredibly easy gameplay but also the inviting pictures and sounds within the app. Everything has been well thought out to make sure the app is perfect not only for the age range it is aimed at but also in the content of the app and what it is trying to achieve, i.e. helping young children to learn how to read and write.  The developer has also stated the font within the app has been specifically chosen as it is dyslexic-friendly so it can be accessed by as wider range of young people as possible.

On opening the app you are taken to a page where you can set up an account. The icon for the account is chosen by picking from a couple of pictures of cartoon drawn faces that the user likes the best. The user is then asked for their name and once this completed prompted to click on the homepage button. All the way through there are prompts to help making sure that the user is guided and not left wondering what they have to do next. On each page of the app there is the small ‘home’ icon and when clicked this brings up a menu on the left hand side of the page with a couple of options and this where you start to see how well designed the app is. As you would expect there is a button to give more information about the app and developer and one also to turn on/off sound effects and music. Within the setting tap there is also the option to add or take away help with the game itself. This is a great addition as it means there can be an amount of personalisation for different users as well as allowing a new user to develop their proficiency with help and then without.

Being able to personalise the app is quite a strong feature through. On first glance you would think that there isn’t much you could do with the game of hangman however the extras that the developer has added it really make this a strong app. On the main menu there is an option to enter a grownups dashboard. On this dashboard an adult can look at the progress of the users (maximum of 6) to see how well they are progressing through the app. This is a great addition for a parent but also means that it can be used well in a classroom or educational setting too. There is also a link to achievement badges on the main menu which is another way to assess the progress a user has made but also to empower, enthuse and congratulate the user themselves.

All the extras in the app really go a long way to complimenting the main content of the app which is the game of hangman. When you start playing the game you have a sketch pad, chalk board and row of letters on the screen. The idea is to select the letters and unveil the full picture being drawn. A correct letter means some more of the picture is drawn on the sketch pad but a wrong letter means that the picture of a man hanging by his arms is drawn on the chalkboard. The user can have help in choosing for the first, last of both first and last letters to already be selected and also a handy hints button that removes some of the letters not contained within the word. Once a word has been correctly guessed an option is then given to write the word. The user is given the word and asked to correctly write it onto the screen. There are arrows pointers helping the user the write the word correctly. Once this has been done the user is then asked to rate how hard they felt the word was to solve. This is another excellent addition as it requires the user to reflect on their own learning and to think about how hard or easy they found the word. 

The app isn’t just about the game of hangman itself though as another excellent feature is the ability to enter the Story Studio and Word Gallery. This is where the user can go to and create drawings of the words that they have won, successfully got correct in the main hangman game. The can, if they wish, also start creating digital stories around these words again giving a whole other dimension to the app.

Overall this is an excellent app that has a number of great features meaning it can work well both in the classroom and the home. Using a favourite game such as hangman will already have users wishing to play but with the friendly artwork and music users will keep coming back for more as the progress through the app learning more and more words. 


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From the Developer

As seen in The New York Times’ "10 Children's Apps for Summer Road Trips."
Your favorite spelling game with a creative twist! Play hangman by yourself or with a friend. Draw pictures that animate and playback. Then, record digital stories with your winning words. No in-app purchases or data required after download.

The illustrations are multicultural and allow all kids to feel included. The letter-tracing feature is a great way to practice penmanship and letter recognition. It’s great for older kids too, giving them the freedom to draw and create stories as well. HangArt is perfect for individual play, entire family fun, and the classroom.

"Culturally diverse drawings and a specially constructed, easy-to-read font welcome kids from a variety of backgrounds and abilities. A jewel of a game … HangArt is a fun challenge, and the open-ended drawing board and storytelling sections let kids take the lead.” ~ Common Sense Media

• No in-app purchases and no Internet required to play
• Play Hangman with 200 K-3 sight words and original, diverse animated illustrations
• Includes a free guide for parents and teachers with alignment to learning standards, including Common Core
• Sight spelling words drawn from Dolch, Fry, and Teachers College word lists
• Classroom and family friendly: Reinterprets the traditional “hangman” as a man who hangs from a monkey bar, falling off when you lose a word!
• Great for family play, one- or two-player mode
• Draw pictures of sight words in the Word Gallery using a custom drawing tool, then save, playback, and add to your gallery
• Record digital stories in the Story Studio
• Practice handwriting in Letter Tracing Practice mode
• Features Castledown, a dyslexic-friendly font custom created for elementary-aged school children and recognized by Wired magazine as a “font designed to help kids learn to read and write”
• Ideal for English Language Learners and ESL
• Child voiceovers model letters and word pronunciation
• Original music and sound FX by Nickelodeon/Dora the Explorer composers
• Developed in collaboration with literacy and arts educators
• Reward badges tied to literacy activities of spelling, drawing, and writing
• Encourages self-evaluation in children with a word self-rating emoji feature (similar to the “pain-scale”)
• Grownups Dashboard offers in-depth analytics grounded in the mindset approach for parents and teachers, including insights on what words kids find to be especially easy or difficult

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"HangArt is a great app to add to a family, school, library or museum collection." ~ Technology in Early Childhood Center, Erikson Institute

Also featured in Geeks with Juniors, Common Sense Media, Children's Technology Review, Teachers with Apps, and NBC News Madison, WI.

"A new and exciting educational app for kids, this game is fun and features Castledown, a dyslexic-friendly font custom created for use by elementary-aged school children." ~ NBC News

"HangArt makes learning more meaningful and effective." ~ Geeks with Juniors

"Great for reading skill reinforcement, in or out of the classroom." ~ Editor's Choice Award, Children's Technology Review

"Kids will not even realize the extent of what they are taking in because the app is centered on play. This is a delightful find!" ~ Teachers with Apps

“For a fun game of Hangman, drawing neat pictures, telling cool stories, and learning words and letters, HangArt has it all.… The Story Studio is a wonderful feature for bringing out [kids’] creativity and letting their imagination take over.” ~ AppAdvice

"With HangArt, the focus is on having fun, while building vocabulary in an authentic, situated context." ~ Matthew Farber, teacher and author of Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning

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Learning Outcomes

Key Features

In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No