Friday, May 3, 2013

App of the Week: Pocket Phonics

Two posts in one week? Say whaaat? I figured I owed you since I was on hiatus last week. And no, I'm still not caught up. I'm in a livable mess :) 

Get excited, it's back.

App of the Week: Pocket Phonics

How it works

Don't be deceived. This is not your ordinary phonics app. There are no cutesy animals singing the letter songs. This app is serious. Get your game-face on.

As you can see from the screen above, you start by setting up an account for your child. This helps to customize the app for each child using it. You can set different skills for different kids; therefore, it is tailored to meet the child's learning needs. This, in educational terms, is called differentiating instruction. Oh yeah, we're getting technical. Hooked yet? You will be...

This app is set with an adult only control. You have to solve a multiplication problem to change the settings. So, if you can do 3rd grade math you can customize this app for your kid. If your preschooler can solve 3rd grade math problems, you probably don't need this app. That tip was free, you're welcome. Once you're in, you can set the font to either D'Nealian (that weird, cursive printing) or Zaner-Bloser (the regular printing). You can set it to recognize that your child is either left or right handed. You can also change how the app prompts your child to respond. And, if you want to really have some fun, you can set up the app so it speaks with a British accent. You know you're going to try it. Now only if it spoke pirate...

Once you get past all the red tape, you're good to go. The app starts by showing you the letters & sounds its going to focus on before you start. You have the option scroll through & find the group you'd like to work on if you have specific sounds you're practicing. Hit play & you're ready. 

The first letter/sound appears on the screen & the reader says the sound aloud to your child. She asks your child to repeat the sound & then models how to write the letter. Your child will trace the letter with her finger, starting at the dot. As she traces, the arrow moves along the letter showing your child which way to go to appropriately form the letter. 

Once your child practices a few letters & sounds, the app takes her to the next screen where she gets to apply the sounds she learned. The nice lady then prompts her with a letter sound & she has to choose which letter matches that sound. She does this for all of the missing letters. When your child has appropriately identified all the missing letters, the nice lady blends them together to make a word. And finally, Ta Da! They show a cutesy matching picture :) See? It's preschool-minded. 

Why I Likey

Uh, did you read above or were you just looking at the pictures? This, folks, is early literacy at its finest. It previews what your child is going to learn so he knows what to expect. It models the letter sound & how to write it. It segments the sounds so your child can see how each fits into the word he's learning. Then, it puts it all together in the end so your child gets that there's a purpose to knowing letter sounds. And it's fun! 

Here's the kicker: it doesn't just stop with single letter sounds. It teaches digraphs (sh, ch, th, etc.) & vowel buddies (ai, oo, ea, etc.) as you progress through the levels. It models how these sounds work together to make new letter sounds. My kindergarten kid is still learning from it; we're reinforcing what they're teaching at school with some at home play. Its guilt-free screen time, everybody's happy.

This app is available on itunes & is in the app store for both ipad & iphone. There's a lite version you can try for free or you can fork over the $2.99 & keep it forever. In my brief research, I believe it is also available for Android for the same price but make sure you're getting Pocket Phonics. There was another phonics app that came up first on my Google search that I can't vouch for... you may be taking matters into your own hands with that one ;) 

Happy blending! 

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