Disney Buddies: ABCs

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Disney Buddies: ABCs App Poster Image
Disney friends, simple games introduce alphabet.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about letters and the sounds they make as they work on identifying both uppercase and lowercase letters by sight and sound. Though the connection to the relevant word in the activities for each letter isn't highlighted in any way, kids can also begin to explore how letters behave as the beginning sounds in some words.

Ease of Play

For some activities, it may not be immediately obvious what to do, but it won't take much experimenting to figure it out.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

A small icon asks users to complete a simple addition equation before taking them to advertisements for other apps from the same developer. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disney Buddies: ABCs introduces letter names, letter sounds, and words that begin with each letter of the alphabet through simple interactive games. The app is a collaboration with the developer Spinlight Studio, the creator of the highly popular AlphaTots Alphabet. In fact, Disney Buddies ABCs is essentially the same app except that it features Disney characters. Parents can turn off the background music and/or sound effects in the settings menu, which is protected behind a parent gate. There's extensive coverage of how your information might be collected and shared in the developer's privacy center.

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What's it about?

Kids join popular Disney characters as they explore the alphabet in DISNEY BUDDIES: ABCS. Start from A and go in alphabetical order or choose letters at random at any time, and kids can choose to see uppercase or lowercase letters. Each letter is introduced with its name and the sound (or sounds) it makes. Then kids are invited to do something that starts with that letter, such as "Help Pluto dig up his bone" for D. When finished, the narrator gives an alliterative encouragement: "Doggone, great digging!" There's also a video to watch in which Mickey sings the ABC song.

Is it any good?

Kid-friendly graphics and clever mini-activities combine with beloved Disney characters to gently present the fun side of learning the alphabet. Just as the original, non Disney-fied AlphaTots Alphabet presents a playful way to explore letters, this is also simple and engaging. It's best for kids and families who love everything Disney, because kids will see characters from movies as varied as Beauty and the Beast to Big Hero, though kids just learning their letters may not know the characters yet. One significant downside is that the app is somewhat of a one-trick pony in that activities are short, and once kids complete the alphabet, they simply repeat the same things over and over. It's nice that target words are often verbs rather than nouns, but -- especially for younger kids -- it would be nice to see more emphasis on those target words, as kids can easily be confused about which word is the one that begins with the featured letter.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about letters. Point out the beginning sounds of familiar words, and emphasize the sound at the beginning of the word (for example, "B-b-ball starts with the letter B").

  • The target age for this app is young, but you can still talk to kids about branding. Do you think this game is more or less fun because it has characters you know? 

  • Point out letters in your everyday environment: on street signs, on cereal boxes, in books, and more.

  • Sing songs, recite nursery rhymes, and read to your kids as much as you can! The more they play with sounds and the more they're exposed to language, the smoother their road to literacy will be.

App details

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For kids who love alphabet and preschool apps

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