Review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2015
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Preschoolers ABC Playground Pro

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Customizable options support letter learning in multiple languages

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K-K
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)

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5 images

Pros: Cute animal graphics and great variety.

Cons: No meaningful progress tracking, and settings can be frustrating to use and reset for multiple kids.

Bottom Line: Kids get a full picture and lots of practice as they explore letters from multiple perspectives, but the leap to reading English words is weak.

Preschoolers ABC Playground PRO can be a great support activity for enhancing letter literacy. It may prove cumbersome to reset options and settings for every kid in your classroom, so teachers should set things up so that play reinforces a recently taught lesson or offers a relevant educational option for down-time, free-choice play, or rotating learning stations. Teachers can adjust the settings as the class progresses together. Multiple languages offer a great way for teachers to connect with kids who speak Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, German, or Swedish as a first language. Other than Spanish, these are probably not the most commonly found foreign languages in a classroom, but they could still be useful as an introduction to teaching a new language or exploring another country or culture. Teachers may want to supervise kids when using the letter sounds options in English to avoid confusing kids with non-flexible letter sounds that don't actually match the words they're spelling -- especially in the unscramble the word game.

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In Preschoolers ABC Playground PRO, kids write and recognize uppercase and lowercase letters, hear letter names and sounds, and match animal names to their initial letter. Six activities include letter tracing, memory-style matching, unscrambling letters, and a blank writing board. What's more, it's all available in seven languages. As they play, kids earn apples to use in a distractor reward game. Some activities have multiple difficulty levels, and there are many customization options, including hiding the distractor game, setting a timer, using letter names vs. letter sounds, and more.

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Enter a virtual playground with lots of ways to interact with letters using multiple approaches, including the listening and visual techniques typical of letter-teaching apps. But here, kids also practice motor skills (writing) and get a foreign language component. The many ways to customize play can be a plus (creating just the right experience for each kid) or a distraction: Parents and kids alike might get lost trying to figure out just what that perfect experience for each kid is, and they might get frustrated resetting it every time the device gets passed to someone else. Some guidance could help with navigating the options and evaluating how to determine what's right and when. Also, multiple user accounts that save settings options and track kids' progress could help differentiate the experience among many kids in a classroom.

It's really neat that there are so many different languages available, making this a great tool for multilingual kids or for kids who want to explore the building blocks of a foreign language. Yet, for kids learning to sound out words in English, the app doesn't allow for letters to make different sounds depending on the word they're in (e.g., long vs. short vowels) or for letters to combine to make unique sounds (e.g., "s" and "h" make a "sh" sound), which may confuse emerging readers.

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Overall Rating

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

Pairing letters with animals provides a good appeal for young kids, and there's enough letter exploration variety for them to not get bored.

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

There are lots of different ways to practice and interact with letters; the leap from exploring individual letters to putting them together to form words could use some improvement.

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

There are no learning extensions, though kids earn stars and apples as they progress. There's no help in navigating all the different customization options.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Adrienne D. , Early childhood provider
Early childhood provider
Not Challenging Enough

My overall opinion is it was a great investment for my two and three year old students and can be great for fresh VPK students. This is an application for my students that are in the beginning level of pre-reading. However, it did not challenge my higher level readers and in my opinion did not teach enough on the blended sounds and did not teach it in a manner that my students would benefit. I would like also if they had a way for the students to read the word back with a microphone to add more interactive connection to the application. I would love to have a way to track my students’ progression and print reports for the parents.

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