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Montessorium: Intro to Words
Pros: Students can make words on their own or through formal activities.
Cons: Could use a little more instruction, especially for students without a good grasp on letters or Montessori methods.
Bottom Line: This app will work best for students who already know their letters and can then work on word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.
Montessorium: Intro to Words' storyboard could enable young kids to see how word building (spelling) helps them to express their thoughts and ideas -- even in just one or two words. Kids can use the app to practice building words phonetically and writing sentences, even if their fine motor skills aren't yet ready to compose words or sentences using pencil and paper. Introduce kids to the movable alphabet (and all the sticker pictures available on the app) and encourage them to write anything they'd like: words, phrases, or a sentence. Use the other three activities on the app for more formal letter sounds and spelling practice (and consider playing the "I Spy" game in the classroom with real objects for extra fun). It will likely be important to explain to (or remind) kids that letter combinations, such as "oo," "ch," and "ar," work together to form new sounds and build words.
Montessorium: Intro to Words is an app that helps kids learn letter sounds by forming words. Four activity choices include the traditional Montessori "I Spy" letter-sound game and activities using the Montessori movable alphabet. Kids use the movable alphabet and artful sticker-like images to write their own stories on a storyboard. When using the movable alphabet, kids hear the sound of each letter clearly pronounced as they drag it into position to form a word. There's no spelling checker on the storyboard feature; kids simply spell phonetically. In two other activities, the narrator pronounces a word next to a colorful drawing and asks kids to choose the letters or letter combinations that spell that word.
Kids can learn essential literacy skills like letter sounds (including diphthongs, digraphs, and r-controlled vowels), spelling, and word recognition on this well-crafted app for emerging readers and writers. The four activities build on one another, giving kids a chance to develop skills and then practice them. That said, in order to make sense of the activities, kids will need to have at least a basic understanding of letters and the sounds they make. It's nice to see the Montessori movable alphabet, but it looks very different on a screen: Instead of seeing all the letters before them at once, kids have to scroll through a long list of letters (and letter combinations). The storyboard is a unique feature that allows kids to build words according to their own ideas and illustrate them with artist-created, sticker-like pictures. It doesn't include a spelling checker or any feedback when they've formed a word. This means kids can spell phonetically however they wish. While it's great to give kids a blank canvas, some may find it confusing, and teachers might want to point out success. There's also no letter or word spacing, so the storyboard can look somewhat disorganized. That said, it's also very natural and akin to how kids often start writing on a page. Kids who haven't been introduced to more complex letter-sound combinations may initially find all the letter combination options listed on the app confusing, so more up-front instructions would be helpful.