Upon opening the application, the user is shown a home screen with ‘Settings’ in the top right, ‘info for teachers’ in the bottom right and a ‘Log in’ for a new player.
The ‘Settings’ menu is parental lock protected and gives you a number options such as music on/off, School Mode and further information about the app. There is also an option to set a magic number which helps when setting the app up in a school classroom situation.
Once a new player has been created they are given the option of three game play modes.
First steps are for children just starting to learn letters and sound, Fun with words is for children who are confident and early letter-sound combinations and are starting to read sentences and Champion reader for children who are confidently reading short sentences and know all of the basic letter sounds combinations.
Once a game mode has been chosen the child gets to create their own monster. We really like the idea of this section of the app as the child can personalise their learning.
Once ready, the monster will board his spaceship and take off to the galaxies. Unfortunately, there’s his spaceship crash lands on a magical planet.
The Island King promises to help fix the spaceship as long as you help him reclaim his missing letters. To do so you must play various mini games. The King will reward you for every letter collected. If they can find all of his letters, he will fix one part of the spaceship and take them to a neighboring island king who can help them fix the other parts.
There are eight islands in this game. On each island, you must find up to four graphemes. For example, the first island consists of s, a, t, and p, and the last island consists of x, y, z, and zz. The game includes 31 graphemes of English words, including ck, ff, ll, ss, and qu.
To unlock each letter, you must play one of the following five activities. As soon as they have unlocked the activities, they can choose any one they prefer to claim the letter.
Sheep. Listen to the phonics sound, and gather the sheep together in the right pen.
Build. Listen to the sound, and pick up the right block to build the spaceship.
Run. A mini endless running game where you choose the correct path based on the sound they hear as they hit the giant flowers.
Factory. Suck up the right letters as they pass through the assembly line based on the sound heard.
Climb. Climb the windows of a multistory apartment while building a CVC (Consonant-Vocal-Consonant) word based on the hint provided.
The Fun with words section of the application is an adventure game that takes your monster through a magical kingdom with various challenges and games including sounds such as ch, sh, zz, ay, ck and simple word construction such as cat, jam and chick.
The Champion reader for Children section of the app is more of a platform application and guides the monster through a series of challenges including advanced phonics such as ay, oh, letter recognition, sounds, word construction and instructions. Once again here the games are slightly repetitive (although slightly harder) but presented in a different story scenario. We really like the fact that the more advanced section of the app moves faster than the earlier sections to match the child’s ability with thinking and reasoning. We like the fact that the games build on each other and provide a logical, fun way for children to improve their skills. Parents and teachers please be aware that the games do not always explain exactly what needs to happen, so users may need some support.
We loved the quirky graphics and the games are great fun to play. The developers can be congratulated on the graphical appearance of the app, the sound and the rewards that you can achieve after each game is complete, the reward can also be chosen first which is good for motivation and classroom competition. However, we did not there was a vast amount of repetition. We also found that the game was quite slow in places and a little unresponsive.
The game itself takes fairly long to rebuild the spaceship. Once they’ve have completed the journey, the app will offer to restart the game. The developers also provide on-line support and a developer’s blog which provides ideas about teaching phonics at home.
We applaud the app developers for the apps high quality content and rich features. It is a great way for children to learn phonics in a fun way and offers a vast number of letters and games which makes it real value for money. This application comes highly recommended by the educational Appstore and we believe that this is one of the best phonics apps available.