Magic Spell - ABC

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Magic Spell - ABC App Poster Image
Silly, insert-a-photo letter art is fun but flawed.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn letter names and match letters to the beginning sounds in words. They'll also get creative as they choose how to fill in the blank oval. Kids can express themselves with a face or a photo of anything they can come up with.

Ease of Play

It might take some exploring to figure out the right process for filling the blank face with your picture.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Magic Spell - ABC lets kids experiment with using their own face -- or another picture of their choice -- to complete 26 animated illustrations, each of which corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. As kids swipe left and right to navigate through the alphabet, a narrator announces the letter and its illustration: A is for astronaut, B is for bee, C is for cactus, and so on. Each drawing also has a short animation for kids to watch. Kids will need permission to use your device's camera and camera roll. Once they have access, they can tap to save illustrations to the device's camera roll, and animations get automatically saved to the camera roll once kids are done watching them. Parents worried about storage space will need to stay on top of deleting photos and videos as they roll in. Through the device's sharing options, kids can also share creations. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

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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.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love preschool and letter apps

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