Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2012
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Kids ABC Phonics

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Good intro for students new to phonics or apps -- or both

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Pre-K This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Clear verbal instructions and very simple user interface.

Cons: Kids who rush through some steps may skip over the narrator's careful pronunciation of each letter.

Bottom Line: Colorful pictures, clear voices and easy interactivity build basic letter sound and recognition skills.

Kids ABC Phonics can provide solo practice for students who are ready to take the next steps into reading. If you have letter blocks or three-letter word puzzles similar to the ones included on this app, include them in a lesson prior to using the digital ones to help kids conceptualize the on-screen activity in concrete ways. If you have pre-K or kindergarten students who are not familiar with educational mobile apps, walk through the four games with them while pointing out the common ways to navigate in and out of each one. In this way, Kids ABC Phonics can be a good introductory app, not only helping students practice phonics but also teaching them how to use technology. This app can also be a useful tool for ELL students. Depending upon your students' current level of phonics skills, Kids ABC Letters (the first in the series) or Kids Learn to Read (the third) may be the more appropriate choice.

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Kids ABC Phonics is an introductory phonics and letter recognition app that helps pre-readers take baby steps toward reading first words. This app's simple user interface and familiar images empower pre-K and kindergarten students -- even those new to using apps -- to practice phonics skills and play with letters. Initially, teachers may need to assist kids with navigating the app to demonstrate how to move in and out of each game back to the main screen. After that, students will most likely be able to use ABC Phonics independently, simply by following the clear and friendly verbal directions provided by the app's narrators.

 

There are four main games here: Learn letter sounds; build letter blocks by matching the first letter sound of words to the correct letter block; pop letter bubbles by matching the phonetic sound to the right letter in the bubble; and build three-letter words. As they play, kids can learn basic phonics and apply the appropriate letter sounds to build simple words. Kids ABC Phonics also helps early readers practice letter recognition by matching the letter they identify to the proper phonetic sound in a fun bubble-popping game. Kids practice blending three letters into words in a puzzle game that helps students make the whole-part relationship connection that words are formed from beginning, middle, and end.

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Kids ABC Phonics is the second in a series of easy and worthwhile preschool apps in Intellijoy's reading series (and it's much more fun and interactive than its simpler companion app, Kids ABC Letters). It gives verbal instructions from friendly narrators, along with simple choices that make it very easy for preschoolers to play. For example, the three-letter word formation game also includes a puzzle component so players can't spell a word incorrectly -- letters in the wrong place simply won't fit into the puzzle. If your students already have solid letter recognition skills, Kids ABC Phonics is a good choice. It's colorful, easy to learn, and it builds pre-reading confidence.

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Overall Rating
3

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

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

The four fun, sticky games offer relevant activities for kids new to phonics. Each activity is concept-building toward a better understanding of how letters and phonics combine to make words readable.

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

There's no formal tutorial, but the app's main menu includes a clearly connected icon for each of the four activity choices. During the activities, the voice instructions are encouraging and clear.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Jason G. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
4
Great app for phonics and early reading.

Overall, I think this is a good app to help young students work on phonics. However, it is generally good practice for an adult to sit with a child as they explore apps, and this app is no exception. The app is simple but effective, and I almost expected a bit more for the $3.99 price. If the developers could make the app a bit more exciting, perhaps with animation, that might improve engagement. Also, it could be the speaker on my device (Nexus 7 tablet), but with one or two sounds/letters, the voice was a bit unclear. For example, the short "a", as in cat, sounded very close to a short "e", as in egg. Once again, this provided an opportunity for my son and I to talk about the similarities between these two sounds, but for a paid app, these types of things should be cleaned up.

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