Montessori Early Reading - Phonics & Rhyme games

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Montessori Early Reading - Phonics & Rhyme games App Poster Image
Simple, early reader matching games sparse but solid.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to read simple words in English, Spanish, French, or Italian by matching written labels to their corresponding images. Kids should bring a strong sense of letter sounds, as the games give kids practice with playing around with beginning word sounds and rhyming words. Also, kids can hear the images' names said aloud for some extra help. Using Montessori Early Reading - Phonics & Rhyme games, kids should gradually be able to form associations between the letters they see written and the words those letters form.

Ease of Play

Tap and drag words to match pictures.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

An ad icon for other apps by the same developers appears on the home page, but a parent gate protects actual purchase.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Montessori Early Reading - Phonics & Rhyme games is a digital version of a Montessori tool called the phonetic object box, which is commonly used in Montessori classrooms to guide kids as they make their first leap into reading whole words. The idea is that kids are ready to start reading when they have a strong sense of letter sounds. The first step toward reading is the box, which holds figurines of familiar objects and animals -- a cat, a cow -- and little tags that have the objects' names written on them. Kids must match the tags to the correct objects. The phonetic object box in Montessori Early Reading - Phonics & Rhyme games has four activities, and kids can play in English, Spanish, French, or Italian. There's also a printable version of the box to use offline.

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What's it about?

Begin with the digital phonetic object box in the first game of MONTESSORI EARLY READING - PHONICS & RHYME GAMES; kids see five images (cat, hen, bed, sun, and log), and a little folded tag appears on the screen. Tap it to reveal the name of one of the objects, and then drag the tag to where it belongs. Repeat for all five words. In three additional games, kids match tags to their images, match words that have similar beginning sounds, and match words that rhyme. Kids can tap images or tags to hear their names said out loud. The whole game is available in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and Italian.

Is it any good?

This digital phonetic object box gives kids easy access to a Montessori reading tool but has a few drawbacks. For kids who know letter sounds, these simple words and images that provide context and cues can help kids put it all together; there is definite value in the idea behind this approach. However, there are a couple of issues: For example, the distinction between the first game -- with its fixed set of only five words -- and the nearly identical but more varied second game isn't clear. Also, kids don't have enough time to hear images' names before being interrupted by a persistent tag begging to be unfolded. Because the words are spoken on the tags, kids never really need to read; it would be nice to have a level or feature where the tag narration could be turned off. For kids who need practice with one-syllable words and would benefit from few distractions, this straightforward approach might be just right.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about letter sounds and phonetics. If you're following the Montessori approach, work with the movable alphabet before trying the phonetic object box.

  • Play with words and their sounds. Recite or sing rhymes or alliterative phrases (words that all have the same beginning sound).

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For kids who love phonics and reading

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