Lemon Lumberjack's Letter Mill

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Lemon Lumberjack's Letter Mill App Poster Image
Lovely, leveled letter app loses steam, slowly sours.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn all about the letter sounds at the beginnings of words through repetition, use short-term memory to remember the letters and target characters, and practice sorting quickly to match items to targets. 

Ease of Play

Game's "how-to" is simple but doesn't cover the more complicated tasks that come later. Kids also have only a frustratingly small area in which they can match objects.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Small icon on the home screen advertises other apps from the same developer; a parent gate protects purchase of other apps and more content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lemon Lumberjack's Letter Mill uses an alliterative approach to let kids explore letter sounds and spelling. The free download includes a sample for kids to try before parents purchase the full content. The first levels are pretty straightforward while later levels can get complicated, and there's no in-app explanation or help, so kids may need their parents to figure out what they're supposed to do. It's also possible that kids will choose the right object but that their little fingers might not be able to target the tiny space where the match works. Note that the story-time section encourages kids to visit the app every day to unlock new stories, so some kids may ask to use it each day. Read the developer's privacy policy for details about how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

LEMON LUMBERJACK'S LETTER MILL churns out alliteratively named animated inanimate objects. Through six levels -- with nine games in each -- kids identify the letter sound in question and match letters and objects with increasing difficulty and complexity. For example, Level 1 asks kids to find the A for Archie the Acorn, and target letters are presented in alphabetical order. On Level 6, kids spell a three-letter word with objects that start with each letter: "fox," "ice cream," and "x-ray" to spell "fix." The story-time section features a one-page alliterative story for each letter of the alphabet, and kids can visit every day to unlock a new one.

Is it any good?

Clever alliteration emphasizes letter-sound recognition, and silly graphics and cheerful music make it fun, but the gameplay leaves something to be desired. Hearing the narrator name characters (and seeing those names in text) such as "Bella the beautiful blooming blossom" and "Jet the jolly jam jar" gives kids a nice review of the power of letter sounds. The gameplay itself is a little less appealing. Essentially, kids do the exact same thing over and over again by dragging the correct items (be they letter or object) to their matching characters. Though there's a purposeful and logical increase in difficulty from one level to the next, the last levels make a big jump and aren't entirely clear. It would be helpful to see the target word prominently and permanently displayed as kids work on finding the right objects. Also, some verbal instructions would go a long way to preventing frustration, as would a way to slow the conveyor belt and a bigger area to make a correct match for kids without stellar fine motor skills. Despite the app's flaws, it's worth checking out the free content to see if it's a good fit for your kid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about letter sounds. Point out letters wherever you see them. Emphasize the beginning sound of familiar words with songs, poems, books, and more.

  • Play letter games such as "the alphabet game" in which you name a letter and kids have to think of a word that begins with that letter.

  • Read with your kids as much as you can. Reading is a superb way to help kids get familiar with letters, letter sounds, words, and other print concepts.

App details

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