App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2020
HOMER Learn & Grow
Common Sense Selection
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HOMER Learn & Grow

Early learners follow an individualized path of skills and interests to gain literacy skills and more

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Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 5 reviews
Privacy rating
79%| Pass Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Grades
Pre-K–2
Subjects & Skills
Math, English-Language Learning, English Language Arts, Critical Thinking, Creativity

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Pros: High-interest activities have personalized learn-to-read lessons.

Cons: Emphasis mainly on alphabet and phonics with little attention to comprehension.

Bottom Line: Top-notch phonics program effectively balances and guides students, but isn't as strong in non-literacy-related topics.

HOMER Learn & Grow can be an excellent self-guided phonics experience for kids with a wide range of prereading and early reading skill levels. For students needing practice in phonics, turn to the Reading section, which offers a scaffolded lesson path that includes interactive practice and voice recordings. To encourage reading, check out Stories, which offers beautifully illustrated stories from numerous genres. The read-aloud stories would work great individually or for a large group, since topics cover a wide spectrum from history to science. And since kids follow an individualized path, differentiation is essentially baked right in.

Enrichment activities continue with the Math, Games, Songs, and Practice sections that encompass activities that introduce early math topics and develop memory, matching, and sequencing skills. Each section asks kids to interact with speaking, drawing, or making selections, which would be possible to build out to off-screen activities.

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HOMER Learn & Grow is an early learning app for kids age 2 to 8 that focuses on literacy with drawing, voice recording, stories, and songs, along with more traditional phonics lessons. A colorful main screen presents all of the options kids can explore: Math, Stories, Games, Reading, Songs, Creativity, and Practice. Clear verbal instructions guide kids in all areas. In Reading, kids follow a personalized, adaptive learning path as they tap and listen to a lesson, play activities, and review before moving on to the next lesson. In Math and Games, kids choose from a large menu of activities that touch on numbers, short-term memory, puzzles, and logic. Stories and Songs have books, nursery rhymes, and song videos in a variety of genres and combine original content with well-known classics. And kids can draw or use stickers to create a variety of themed scenes in the Creativity section. Teachers may be able to create a free educator account on the developer's website.

Note that HOMER Learn & Grow is a redesigned version of what used to be called HOMER Reading: Learn to Read. At the time of this review, this updated app was available for iOS only; the developer claims that an Android update is coming soon.

HOMER Learn & Grow is an outstanding way to get students excited about reading. The systematic phonics lessons can help kids learn letter sounds, letter (capital and lowercase) and word recognition, critical thinking while reading, and reading comprehension. By reading or listening to the stories, kids can also learn about animals, historic figures, world cultures, music, and other topics relevant to their lives. Interesting content about frogs, world music, fiction, poetry, and songs engages students while building reading fluency. As kids make voice recordings and draw pictures, they are learning digital creation skills while applying their knowledge. And a study proclaims its efficacy

The app includes plenty of positive feedback ("Hooray and happy day!" and "Wiggly ears cheers!"), but it can feel a bit over-the-top after a while. Though the inclusion of SEL content is especially great to have, the non-literacy-related content feels weak compared to the reading program. It's much less thorough and often feels simply like an add-on. On the other hand, the upside is that even kids who aren't quite ready to read can easily find something to do. In fact, with so much content, kids will have solid content to read, listen to, and explore for months. 

Overall Rating

Engagement

A colorful menu presents lots of quality lessons, books, songs, and interactive games. Content touches on a variety of high-interest topics sure to capture kids' interest. 

Pedagogy

Personalized phonics lessons and rich stories strategically guide students through beginning reading activities. Kids are also free to choose puzzles, games, songs, and more to practice other early learning skills.

Support

There are clear verbal instructions but little help when kids struggle to respond correctly, and no language other than English. Additional parent/teacher support is available on the developer's website.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

Community Rating

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Featured review by
Amy R. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Mountain Valley Middle School
Mexico, United States
Free app reads to students, teaches phonics, and encourages them to create based on what they've learned.
I have used Learn with Homer with my most important students: my own children, ages 2 and 6. I think it is a great app to suggest to parents of kiddos ages 2-8. Students take a photo of themselves and select a "thinking cap" for their avatar. The more levels they complete, the more thinking caps they earn. More than one student account can be made on each app. Activities include word and sound sorts, listening to poems read aloud, and creating drawings and sound recordings based on their learning ...
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
Personal information is displayed publicly.
Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Users can create or upload content.
Processes to access and review user data are available.
Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Data are not shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Behavioral or targeted advertising is not displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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