Endless Wordplay

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Endless Wordplay App Poster Image
Stellar phonics and word construction fun for a hefty price.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about spelling and reading words. With rhyming sounds as a guide, kids can learn how to construct words letter by letter. The audio track reinforces letter sounds but also points out how letters change the sounds they make based on what other letters surround them. As kids construct words and listen to how adding each new letter changes how the previous letters are pronounced for groups of rhyming words, they'll work on recognizing patterns in written English. The sentences and animations using words in context also can help kids expand their vocabularies. Though the price tag is a definite downside, Endless Wordplay does offer a really fun and interactive way to explore phonics and word construction.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is simple and intuitive, involving tapping and dragging.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Information page links to opportunities to upgrade the app, buy other apps by the developer, but it's protected by a prereader-proof code. Full pack of words is pricey.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Endless Wordplay uses a phonetic approach to introduce reading and spelling simple words. Kids tap and drag letters to their places in the target word. Words are grouped by rhyme and also are presented in a sentence with an accompanying animation. Endless Wordplay presents as a free download but includes only three of the 90 available levels. That means there's so little content included that the free download is more like a mini trial to decide if it's worth shelling out money rather than a stand-alone app. Parents can purchase a starter pack for $6.99 or get the whole game for $14.99.

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What's it about?

In ENDLESS WORDPLAY, kids work with an "Alphabot" to construct words whose letters have been shaken out of place. Tap and hold letters to hear their sounds and place them in the word in the correct order. If you're confused, tap the question mark for hints. Each level has three rhyming words (for example, "map," "lap," and "nap"); after you spell them, there's a short animation that acts out a sentence using the words in context ("The map on my lap vanished during my nap"). Words get longer and more complicated on successive levels, and you can adjust settings to let kids skip around or have them complete levels in order.

Is it any good?

With a focus on rhyming and phonetic sounds, kids can get great practice decoding how letters form sounds that form words. Unfortunately, it costs more than many parents can pay. It makes a good attempt to address the peculiarities of the English language, in which letters make all sorts of different sounds depending on the words they're in: When kids tap a letter they hear the letter's default sound, but as they place the letter in a word, they hear how it changes its sound as a result of the letters around it. Also, hints nicely point out that "lap" is like "map" but starts with an "m." The sentences and animations that follow each group of three words is a great way to see the words in context, though some sentences are such a stretch they seem more awkward than helpful, and reading them more slowly would help early readers. The biggest disadvantage is the price, which might prevent parents from purchasing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about rhyming words. Help kids add more words to the rhyming groups in the app and make up their own rhyming groups.

  • Use letter blocks, or even letters written on index cards, to move letters around and form new words.

  • Help kids avoid confusion about the many sounds the same letter can make. Talk about how letters make different sounds depending on what letters are around them in a word.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, phonics, spelling, vocabulary
  • Price: Full version $14.99
  • Pricing structure: Free to Try, Paid (Free download offers limited content; additional levels available as in-purchases ranging from $6.99 to $14.99)
  • Release date: June 3, 2015
  • Category: Education
  • Topics: Robots
  • Size: 93.30 MB
  • Publisher: Originator Inc.
  • Version: 2.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

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