Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2015
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Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen

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Fun, cute word-building with Cookie Monster; vowel toys are optional

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: By only changing the vowel, each word group offers multiple words.

Cons: No teacher options to create multiple user accounts or prescribe specific word groups.

Bottom Line: Beloved character and versatile word-building approach help kids become successful word builders.

Teachers could include the game as a practice station for kids to work at individually. The play is fun, and since Cookie Monster is likely to be familiar to most kids, it could make a nice way to introduce kids to phonics at the beginning of a school year. Kids can learn about vowels and build works right away.

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Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen focuses on three- and four-letter word combinations, building vocabulary and phonics skills. It can be played using a set of physical vowel toys (from the Tiggly Words set) or played without the toys simply by tapping the letters on the screen.

In the app, Cookie Monster is baking cookies with letter-shaped cookie cutters. Kids help make words by choosing a vowel to complete the words. They then mix the letters, add color for icing, and see the baked cookie word, either in the shape of the word or with images showing the word's meaning. Once they've made four related words, kids can choose to "eat" them or feed them to Cooke Monster. For added fun, kids can add their own picture to the wall in the kitchen.

Kids can learn phonics and improve vocabulary as they explore and create words by changing vowels. For example, they start with CVC combinations such as "b_t" and add vowels to the middle to create "bat," "bet," "bit," or "but." Adding vowels that don't make a word prompts redirection from Cookie Monster for them to try again. After kids show mastery of the CVC words, they'll move in to blends and digraphs, such as "st" or "sh" at the beginning of words and then at the end. Cookie Monster breaks down the phonetic sounds for kids to hear them clearly. There's lots of fun mixed in to the baking, too.

As expected with Sesame Street products, the quality, educational value, and attention to detail are top-notch. The option to use the Tiggly Words manipulatives adds some fun and depth to the activity, but it's still totally playable without them. Cookie Monster's grammar may bother some who may be concerned that his dropped word endings and misuse of "me" as a subject might reinforce poor language skills, especially in a game designed to teach words. Nevertheless, Sesame Street enthusiasts would argue that kids can learn the phonics while recognizing Cookie Monster for his toddler persona.

The words get more challenging as kids advance, moving from three-letter words to consonant blends and four-letter words. Kids will enjoy customizing the icing colors or adding their photo to the wall, keeping them engaged without distracting them from the words. There's not much to make it classroom-friendly, though -- it would be nice to see Tiggly add features for multiple users or the ability to direct kids' focus toward specific word groups.

Overall Rating

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

Learning phonics is baked into the fun as kids mix up letters and icing colors to create words. The details, from making interesting colors with the four icing colors to adding a picture to the kitchen wall, will keep kids engaged.

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

Kids begin with three-letter words before advancing with blends, forming different words just by changing the vowel. The vocabulary is reinforced through the designs on the cookies.

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

On-screen and verbal instructions guide kids through play when they start. There's no way to choose which word combinations to work with or to manually set the difficulty, but challenge increases quickly so kids won't be bored.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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