Alpha Writer, by Montessorium

Common Sense Media says

Clever, hands-on method for learning how to spell.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Once kids know what to do, it's simple for them to pull letters or phonograms (letter combinations) from a scrolling bar at the top of the screen and form words. It would have been helpful, though, to have some instructions up front, since it can take some trial and error to figure out exactly what to do.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

A small button on the home screen links to more apps by the developer in iTunes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Alpha Writer, by Montessorium is a Montessori-style learning app that helps kids learn letter sounds and teaches them how to form words. The app includes a tactile approach to learning, since kids can physically manipulate letters onscreen. Kids hear the sound of each letter as they touch it and drag it into position to form words. The app has four sections. The first two ask kids to spell words after seeing a picture of the word and hearing it spoken. The third section lets kids use letters and images to write their own stories. The fourth is a version of "I Spy" that incorporates letter sounds.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • phonics
  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary
  • writing

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • part-whole relationships

Communication

  • listening

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

This attractive and easy-to-use app is in line with the Montessori method, which emphasizes learning through play and exploration. Once kids have figured out what to do, they can have a lot of fun learning about spelling.

Learning Approach

Kids build literacy concepts as they listen to the narrator carefully pronounce each word, emphasizing letter sounds. Kids can reflect as they choose letters by listening to each sound and comparing it to the sounds of the target word.

Support

Although the app doesn't track learning data, kids can save images of their Storyboard creations. Clear narration makes letter identification tasks accessible to young kids.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • phonics
  • reading
  • spelling
  • vocabulary
  • writing

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • part-whole relationships

Communication

  • listening

Kids can learn essential literacy skills like letter sounds, letter combinations, spelling, and word recognition with this well-crafted app for emerging readers and writers. The four activities build on one another, giving kids a chance to first develop skills and then practice them in either the creative Storyboard activity or the fun Alpha Spy game. The app's careful and clear narration makes letter identification tasks understandable and accessible to young kids. With its focus on the building blocks of literacy, Alpha Writer, by Montessorium is a solid tool for helping young kids begin to read and write.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Wilkey Oh

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What's it about?

Kids choose from two spelling activities, a free play area, and a game. In the spelling activities, the narrator pronounces a word and asks kids to choose the letters or letter combinations (phonograms) that make up that word. Kids drag letters or phonograms from the top of the screen to hear the letter sounds and place them in the spaces below an illustration of the word. Kids can also play with letters and spelling in the Storyboard area or practice listening and letter recognition skills with the Alpha Spy game.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Alpha Writer, by Montessorium is an attractive and easy-to-use educational app. Although it could use some up-front instructions, once kids have figured out what to do, they can have a lot of fun sliding around talking letter tiles to form words -- learning a lot about spelling in the process.

The "Alpha Spy" game is a great way for kids to extend their learning as they practice letter-sound recognition. The app's "Storyboard" feature is basically a sandbox, in which kids can slap together letters and pictures. For older kids, who are already somewhat adept at reading and spelling, this can be a neat feature to play around with. But younger kids just learning the ropes will most likely treat it like a Colorforms set and just put together interesting scenes (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

Families can talk about...

  • Help your kids get started with the app. Show them how to scroll through the letters and drag them onto the screen.

  • Play Alpha Spy with your kids using objects around your home. They can expand their vocabulary and connect learning to real-life experiences.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Price:$4.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:December 19, 2013
Category:Education
Size:64.00 MB
Publisher:Montessorium, LLC
Version:3.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.3 or later

This review of Alpha Writer, by Montessorium was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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