Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2013
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Alien Buddies

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Energetic aliens prove effective messengers for teaching pre-reading

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Pre-K-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Games are fun and easy to play, and who doesn't like a cheeky alien?

Cons: Kids may rip through all the levels, mastering games quickly when they don't find more challenging activities.

Bottom Line: This cute and easy-to-use game can help kindergartners learn shapes, colors, numbers, and letters.

Teachers may find Alien Buddies useful for kindergartners struggling with basic concepts like shapes, colors, numbers, or letters. The games are pretty straightforward, so early readers will get straight to the concepts. If kids seem to be improving, teachers (or students) can up their challenge in a few ways, such as with uppercase and lowercase letters and number ranges.

You can't create separate accounts for different students, but you can "reset all" in the parents' section on the home screen to restart when a different student starts.

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Alien Buddies helps kids learn about shapes, colors, numbers, and letters. The aliens are cute, and they bop around and make funny noises, like "Oh, no!" when moved incorrectly and "All, right! Whee!" when they end up in the right place. That said, mastering all the levels in all the games may not take kids very long, as the games aren't very challenging. Kids could even stumble into correct answers by dragging and dropping aliens indiscriminately.

Both the puzzle and dot-to-dot games offer 18 choices. To make a puzzle, kids choose from four-, six-, or eight-piece games and make a picture of an alien. In the dot-to-dot games, kids form pictures by connecting numbers in the proper order.

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Of note are some core pre-reading concepts that students learn through four games: match, puzzle, dot-to-dot, and stickers. In the match game that has eight short rounds, kids load aliens onto the correct spaceship by matching color, shape, number, or letter. They can match by looking or click an object to hear its name spoken and then find the corresponding alien or ship.

Students can vary how much they're challenged in some ways. In the letter match game, they can focus on either lowercase or uppercase letters, or match lowercase to uppercase. In the number match, they can increase their range from 1 to 10, to 1 to 20, to 1 to 50. In all games, kids can earn stickers, and in the stickers game they get to use them.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The four games in Alien Buddies are fun and easy to play, but they might be too easy.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Kids could concentrate and get the right answers, but they could also master each level by randomly dragging and tapping aliens.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Teacher resources are linked on the home screen, and you can see how and what your students are doing.


Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Margaret A P. , Other
Other
The Agnes Irwin School
Rosemont, PA
4
Fun and rewarding app for young learners to practice basic literacy and math skills

Alien Buddies has great audio instructions to help pre or early readers use the app to practice numbers, letters, shapes, and colors. When practicing letters, teachers and students can choose between all lower-case, all upper-case or mixed. I like that if students touch a letter/number/etc, it is said aloud but unfortunately, when a child make a correct match (i.e., letter "G" to letter "G") the only response is something like "hooray" and nothing is said to reinforce the content. The app is fun for students but fairly standard skill and drill work that does not allow for a lot of student-directed learning or open-ended creativity. The Sticker activities is the only creation-based part of the app.

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