Alphabots

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Alphabots App Poster Image
Robots prove not to be the best teachers of the ABCs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

While Alphabots was created for educational purposes, we don't recommend it for learning because the educational design and objectives aren't well-suited for preschoolers who are learning the alphabet.

Ease of Play

Kids just learning letters may find the graphic representations confusing. They must tap the arrow button or play to advance through the games, which isn't intuitive for this target audience.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A link to other apps by the developer is visible only on the start screen and is protected by a kid-lock code.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Alphabots includes six mechanical-themed, alphabet-related activities -- learn, find, build, turn, slide, and spell -- to help kids master the ABCs. Some preschoolers may find the computer-generated robot voice difficult to understand and the letters assembled from mechanical parts hard to recognize. Kids also must tap arrows or the next word to advance to another activity, but there are no verbal or visual cues to draw their attention to it. 

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What's it about?

Kids "learn" letters by viewing an animation of each formed by mechanical parts and hearing a robot-related word for each (such as "axle" and "bolt"). They "find" the letter from four options called out verbally, and then they "build" each letter from robot parts, dragging them into place. They "turn" nine puzzle pieces to create a picture and "slide" three pieces into place to complete the letter. They also "spell" robot-themed words (such as "fuse" and "volt") by dragging the letters into the correct order.

Is it any good?

Incorporating STEM into everything isn't always a great educational idea. Letters formed using mechanical parts are a cute abstract representation, but preschoolers learning to recognize and form letters are not going to benefit from approximations. The interface isn't very preschooler-friendly, either, with no visual cues or verbal instructions. The vocabulary in the spelling section also isn't on-target for this age range. While learning specific terms such as "fuse" and "axle" is great, words such as "tec" and "klic" (if they're actually even words) will confuse emerging spellers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other ways to explore with robots. For some robot-related fun, put out assorted building tools (bolts, nuts, screws) and have kids put together their own "robot" alphabets.

  • Save Alphabots for kids who are really interested in mechanics or robots and who have mastered alphabet recognition.

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