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Review by Stacy Zeiger, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013

Beginning Sounds Interactive Game

Cute sorting games help kids learn 18 initial sounds

Common Sense says
Teachers say (2 Reviews)
$avg_user_learning_rating
Grades
Pre-K-1 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Bright pictures and fun sound effects entertain kids as they learn words.

Cons: Limited word selection keeps kids from building advanced skills.

Bottom Line: Kids can build a good base of beginning letter sounds and related words but will need opportunities to expand their knowledge.

Teachers can use Beginning Sounds to introduce students to common letter sounds. They may ask students to play the game on their own and focus on specific beginning sounds before a more in-depth lesson or activity that incorporates those sounds. It can also serve as a whole-class review game or time-filler, having students work together to quickly sort the letter sounds.

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Students select three pictures that represent beginning letter sounds and start the game. They must then correctly sort a group of nine pictures into columns representing the three letter sounds they selected. For example, students may choose pictures of a fish, a hat, and a monkey. They will then see pictures of the number four, mice, a hive, a fan, a map, a horse, a fire, a mask, and a hand. Correctly sorting the pictures earns them a cheer and a chance to play again -- choosing new sounds, sticking with the same sounds, or letting the app choose the sounds for them. No matter what sounds they choose, the game remains the same.

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Cute, colorful pictures and fun sound effects draw kids in. With their interest piqued, they can start exploring the beginning letter sounds. As kids play the game, they will build a basic base of 18 beginning sounds and four words that start with each sound. While they will connect the words with the sounds, the lack of text in the game may prevent students from connecting the beginning sounds with the letters that produce those sounds. They will also have little reason to return to a sound once they have successfully sorted the words. No matter how many times students choose a beginning letter sound, the words they learn are the same. Kids would get more out of the experience if they received a different selection of words every time they chose a specific beginning sound.

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Overall Rating
3

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

Bright colors, cute images, and fun sound effects draw kids in. Kids have control over the sounds they work with in the game, but may not be entertained for long with the single mode of game play.

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

Kids must categorize images by their beginning letter sounds. Only 18 letter sounds appear within the game. For each letter, kids only experience four words that begin with that letter sound.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
2

A text-based help file and few on-screen instructions offer little help to kids who get stuck.  While kids select their own letter sounds, the single mode of play limits the number of kids who will benefit from the app.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stacy Zeiger Homeschooling parent

Teacher Reviews

4
(See all 2 reviews) (2 reviews)
Featured review by
Ashley K. , Other
Other
4
Great, simple way to reinforce beginning sounds for emerging readers

The app was easy for students to use (once they learned it) and kept them engaged. Our students wanted to race against each other to sort the sounds. I also liked that the focus was on phonemic awareness - no letter representation - but I would love to have that option as an addition choice as well (allowing the app to grow with the student).

For the app to work, you must choose three sounds -- for our lower learners, this was too much information to process and discern sounds, especially the soft g versus hard g sound. Additionally, some of the images can be confusing: one is a gate, and you need to listen to the sound carefully so that you don't confuse it with fence. As my students advance, I would also very much love to see other beginning sounds added (sh, ch, th).

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