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Montessorium: Intro to Words
Pros: Kids can compose words on their own or participate in formal word-building activities.
Cons: More instruction is needed, especially for kids unfamiliar with Montessori methods.
Bottom Line: Basic reading skills are developed through word building, word play, and letter-sound recognition.
Montessorium: Intro to Words' storyboard can be an excellent way for teachers to introduce very young kids to the concept that word building (spelling) empowers them to express their thoughts and ideas -- even in just one or two words -- which can be highly motivating for kids. This app helps kids express themselves and 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 helps kids learn letter sounds and empowers them to try their hand at 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 can 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. The storyboard is a particularly 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, so kids can spell phonetically without correction. There's also no letter or word spacing, so the storyboard can look somewhat disorganized -- but also very natural, the way kids often initially write 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, and more up-front instructions would be helpful.