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Avokiddo ABC Ride
Pros: Interactive letter-inspired challenges engage and inspire beginning readers.
Cons: Gameplay might interfere with actual letter learning.
Bottom Line: A fun way for kids to play thoughtful games and explore letters and words. A few small changes could really beef up letter learning.
Teachers can use Avokiddo ABC Ride as an engaging way to practice letter sounds and expose kids to a variety of words that start with each letter of the alphabet. Since gameplay may distract from the letter learning, supplement with clear and directed questions that guide kids to really pay attention to the letter content (e.g., "So what letter does pig start with?" or "What other p words were used?). The alliterative directions can be used to spark a poetry exploration. Start with looking at alliteration as a narrative device and take off from there. The games encourage kids to experiment, problem-solve, or put puzzles together. Lead them in a discussion of how they figured out how to solve each challenge. Individual play works best. Be aware that there's no way to track kids' progress, no separate kids' accounts, and no natural stop on the never-ending bicycle ride. Teachers can adjust some settings, however, to make gameplay fit their students' needs.
Kids help Beck and Bo with a series of alphbetically organized, letter-related challenges, each introduced with an alliterative poem. For example, kids are instructed to "acquire the apricots and act with attention, you’ll get applause when a appears" and then use a bucket to catch apricots falling out of a tree. Then kids spell the target word (e.g., apricot), and continue on their ride. Kids can choose to see specific letters, letters in alphabetical order, or letters in random order, and they can decide whether Beck or Bo rides the bike. In the parent section (behind a "press for 3 seconds" lock), teachers can adjust settings so kids see uppercase or lowercase letters, have to spell the target word or not, and more.
Avokiddo ABC Ride is a fun, creative way to explore letters. The graphics are wonderful, and the letter games inspire kids to listen to the alliterative directions (some are more successful "poems" than others) and problem-solve. A sufficient amount of exposure to each letter, the sound it makes, and words that contain it is provided. Quite a few little changes could easily take this app to the next level, however. Gameplay can be so engrossing that kids miss the letter learning; a clearer distinction between gameplay and word/letter presentation could help, especially since the action in the gameplay isn't related to the letter (i.e., actions do not demonstrate a verb that begins with the target letter). When spelling the target word, kids hear each letter sound as they tap the letter, yet the sound doesn't always match the target word (e.g., the o in balloon is pronounced "ah" rather than "ooo"). Also, kids can spell words in any order, meaning pig could be sounded out "g," "i," "p." Both of these functions may confuse kids. Despite these details, this is still an effective app and an imaginative way to play with letters.