“Planet Lettra” is an application designed for ages 6-8 that enables children to explore the forming of words and the use of letters. This app is great for experimenting with word building and hearing what you have made. The app supports fantastic graphics and a unique playing experience.
Upon opening the application, the user is shown a beautiful home page with inviting graphics. There are three options available here. The user can ‘Play’ the game, ‘Take a tour’ of the app and its instructions or the user can change the ‘Settings’. We recommend that the user utilises the ‘Take a Tour’ option to have a better understanding of the game. We really enjoyed the instructions but found that there was rather a lot to understand. Many of our users explored the app without fully understanding the gameplay options.
Once the user has entered the ‘Take a Tour’ option the storyboard will take you through the delightful world of Planet Lettra. The graphics and narration here are beautiful and we like the large slider to control the video progression. The game has a number of different gameplay features.
On the playing screen the planet will fill with many bubble letters, some will bounce and some will combine. Bumping two bubbles can create words that Lettra knows or the user can create words of their own. We were unsure of this feature and our users were often confused by words that made no sense. Spinning the planet at the bottom will reveal a number of different creatures, we particularly liked the burping creature. Some creatures simply made noises, whilst others cleared the bubbles on the screen. The user can also explore these creatures by dragging bubbles, near them, pressing them or tapping on them. Creatures can also be put to sleep using the purple sleeping potion to stop them eating letters. The moon of ‘Undo’ appears in the top left hand corner and this will undo any previous bubble connections made. Planet “Permia’ can be found in the top right and this enables the user to change the shape of the bubble walls. The thinner the bubble walls the more blends occur, a double walled bubble will only combine if they both dragged at the same time. Once a word has been built and the app recognises it the word is displayed in orange. We felt that the words should be able to be banked or collected somewhere once they had been created so the student can monitor the words later. The screen at times can become very cluttered, however the student can move to another planet with more room to manipulate the letters. A word can be read by tapping on it twice or if the user needs a letter that can’t be found then dragging a bubble to the small icons on the planet left or right and the bubble will change to the desired letter you.
Using the ‘Settings’ function on the home screen enables you to change languages which is an excellent feature. The other options are to change the background and the decoration of the bubbles.
Whilst this app has some excellent features and some highly enjoyable graphics we did find that the app was lacking in parts. Our users became over whelmed by the number of bubbles on the screen and very frustrated when bubbles could not be joined or the bubble had to be chased around the screen. It’s a shame that the app has no way of monitoring the progress of the child. I score for the number of words created, a timer or the option to collect/bank words would be a helpful feature. If this was to used in a classroom situation, then the ability to create a user profile would also be beneficial.
Overall this app is presented beautifully and has some real quirky features. It goes without saying that the app really does enable students to be creative and explore many ways to form words. However, it is a shame that the app is somewhat complex for its target market and it would really benefit from a method to monitor student performance.
From the Developer
Kids love bumping letter bubbles together, forming words and feeding them to the silly creatures on Planet Lettra. This app is great for experimenting with word building and hearing what you've made.
Imagine a set of letter blocks that your child can arrange any way they want and hear what they've built, blocks that guide your child in building the most important sight words for reading fluency and give him or her lots of exposure to important letter blends, blocks that even form words all by themselves. That's Planet Lettra.
Whatever your child's age or reading ability, this app has plenty to discover and play with: green and purple Munchers that love to eat words, silly costumes, musical patterns, creatures with other special powers and more.
• Play in English, French or Spanish
• A short video tour of the planet introduces new travellers to Planet Lettra and guides them in playing with the bubbles and creatures
• Planet Lettra recognizes over 100,000 words in each supported language.
• Words important to reading fluency (about 1000) are formed more easily and more often.
• The sound environment is musical, soothing and non-repetitive.
• There are no time limits, no levels to complete, no points to accumulate, no in-app purchases, no sub-menus to get stuck in. This app is designed for pure play with young children in mind.