A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
There are 26 illustrated characters -- one for each letter of the alphabet -- in MAGIC SPELL - ABC. Swipe left and right to browse through the letters and hear a narrator say A is for astronaut, B is for bee, and so on. Each drawing also has a blank oval for kids to fill in with a photo of their face or whatever suits their fancy. Kids can use the camera to take a picture or search through photos on the camera roll. All 26 illustrations are automatically filled with the same picture. Finally, kids can tap to watch a short animation, which the app automatically saves.
Is it any good?
Fun personalization plus letter-learning is a solid use of screen time, but there are some shortcomings with this app. Just as kids are drawn to those silly stands where you can stick your head in an oval-shaped hole and take a picture of your face on an illustrated body, there's sure to be some kid appeal here. Add the alphabet piece, and kids are getting exposure to letters and letter sounds as they play. Yet, overall, Magic Spell - ABC doesn't quite manage to deliver a stellar experience. Some of the letter choices are creative, like the hot dog for the letter H. Others aren't great choices for beginning learners, like the sheep for S which starts with a "sh" sound rather than an "s" sound. It's a little odd that kids start at a randomly chosen place in the alphabet when they open the app, but it is nice that they can also choose whichever letter they want by tapping on the "ABC" on the top left of the screen. Most of all, it's disappointing that kids can't choose a different photo for each letter. For little kids, navigation exploring the letter and taking a picture is a little complicated. Also, it's frustrating that videos get automatically saved to the camera roll and that there's no option to turn off the background music. Magic Spell - ABC may allow kids a few moments of delightful exploration, but it also has some significant drawbacks.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about letter sounds as they play with Magic Spell - ABC. Repeat the name of the letter and, with your kids, come up with as many words that start with that letter as you can.
Talk about letters in familiar words, such as people's names or the names of favorite toys.
When reading books together, let kids point out letters they recognize and help them begin to understand that letter sounds combine to make words.
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Language & Reading: letter or word recognition
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
- Price: $.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Release date: April 10, 2017
- Category: Education
- Topics: Numbers and Letters
- Size: 244.00 MB
- Publisher: The J
- Version: 1.0.5
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.3 or later; Android 4.3 and up
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.