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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Alphabet by

Name: ABA Flash Cards - Alphabet by
Designed for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

This app is one of many designed to teach preschoolers and kindergartners uppercase letter identification. Learning letters and their corresponding sounds is obviously a critical skill in learning to read. Many children acquire letters and sounds through rich exposure to books and environmental print. Nonetheless, many children often require direct instruction of letters which is the purpose of this app.

This app operates by presenting children with colorful flashcards beginning with the uppercase letter A and a corresponding picture. A voice then states the name of the picture. For example, in the flashcard on the left, the voice says "Earth" and nothing more.

The good: The pictures in this app are colorful and engaging.

The bad: This app misses the mark completely on effective letter instruction. First, children are never taught the names of the letters, only the names of the object that begin with that letter. Therefore, young children must make a tremendous leap and internalize the picture with the letter name. Children only learn the name of the object in the picture. Apparently, the creators of this app assume that children can figure out the letter name by themselves (but isn't that the purpose of the app?!) Unfortunately, this app was intended for teaching letter indentification but derails and turns into a vocabulary lesson!

Secondly and equally disturbing, is that the corresponding pictures on some of the vowels are confusing. Children often learn letters and sounds simultaneously, so for example, when teaching children to idenftify an A select a corresponding picture that contains the general sound that the letter makes (airplane, apple). Unfortunately, in this app, perplexing images are chosen to represent the letter. Case in point, look at the E "earth". Why choose such an exception to the sound of E - the creators surely could've chosen a more common sound for the picture (egg, elephant). Even more befuddling is that they repeat this misstep for the letter O and use a picture of an owl. Again, better choices would've been (ostrich, orange, oval). Vowels are confusing for kids to begin with, why make it worse?

I give this app thumbs down.

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