Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2013

The Flying Alphabetinis -- A Fingerprint Network App

Fun, beginner-style way for kids to start playing social word games

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.
1-3
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (1 Review)
3

Take a look inside

4 images

Pros: Circus-style visuals and colorful picture hints and stunts bring fun and energy to word searches.

Cons: The app promotes using "stunts" often, but It can take a while to earn them through gameplay; the other option is to buy them.

Bottom Line: Kids can practice a range of skills, but in-app purchases and related hints knock some of the fun out of this app.

For classroom use, The Flying Alphabetinis may be best as an extra practice game for two players who are on or near the same spelling level. You may want to visit the settings page to turn off the noisy background circus music. At the end of each round, all words that each player finds are stacked against each other. Encourage kids to review the list, and if there are words they don't know the meaning of, they can look them up in the dictionary. Overall, this app is a fun way to incorporate spelling practice into an early experience in safe, online social gaming. Unfortunately, the in-app purchase promotions are a notable downside.

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The Flying Alphabetinis provides a fun word search format for kids to practice spelling and word identification on a circus-themed, timed, two-player game. Once kids choose an opponent (or get assigned to one randomly), they see picture flash cards of some of the words they can find during each round; other words they can simply find on their own by connecting letters on the board that that they know make a word. To identify and spell words, kids swipe up, down, across to connect letters. Players can earn or buy stunts (hints and other fun game changes). Each player gets a two-minute turn to find as many words as possible. When the two-minute turn is up, a large "Time's Up" sign appears and it's the other player's turn.  As with other turn-based social games, kids must wait for the other player to take his or her turn before they can start another round.  (A "waiting" sign appears under that players score.)

One of the downsides (that may seem like an upside to kids) is the cool, visually interesting stunts used for "power up" plays, which give hints by rearranging the board or other such moves to change up the game. These stunts take a while to earn via gameplay, so kids may want to buy them instead. The app often promotes these in-app purchases (a one-time in-app purchase can make all stunts available from that point forward).

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Kids get a fun way to practice their spelling, word identification, and thinking skills while trying an online social game (think Words With Friends or Scramble With Friends) on a safe, kid-friendly network. The word search-style game board (which changes each round) encourages kids to scan vertically, horizontally, and diagonally for letters that combine to make words. Because this is a timed, turn-based game, kids learn to work efficiently under pressure, to handle the stress of a two-minute time limit, and to wait patiently through the other player's turn. The game offers hints in the form of "stunts," but, taken in combination with the visual flash cards, some of the hints may dissuade some kids from putting forth the effort to find more words on their own.

 

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Very engaging, with many helpful hints, circus characters representing letters, and options to play solo or against others.

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

Kids are motivated to search for words on the puzzle-like game board to earn points. At the end of each round, kids can review the words they and their opponent found by reviewing the stacked words on the scoreboard page.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

First-time players can watch a clear tutorial and try a practice round before playing the game. The Flying Alphabetinis includes many ways for players to get hints. You can get progress reports on the Fingerprint network.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

2
(See all 1 reviews) (1 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Tamara L. , Other
Other
Hanover County Public Schools
Ashland, VA
2
Visually engaging, but cumbersome at times with minor glitches.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed in this graphically pleasing app. I loved the online safety features of the built-in avatars and screen names, but was quickly bored as I waited to be paired up with another app user (no vs. computer option available.) When I exited the app and re-entered, I was dismayed to discover the first screen being an in-app purchase page (where students have to click "No Thanks" to continue on to the game). As an educator, this inconvenience could be a deal-breaker when expecting students to use the app independently, especially for iPads that are not setup and maintained by the classroom teacher. I liked that you could stop the game timer and earn "stunts" for more time, extra hints, etc. but it would be nice if this app allowed students to wirelessly connect with other students or choose from a list of students programmed by the teacher. For home and personal use only, this app might receive a higher rating.

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