Phonics Genius

App review by
Kim Alessi, Common Sense Media
Phonics Genius App Poster Image
Phonics app is easy to use but not for beginners.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to listen and look for letter sounds with the Phonics Genius app. They can also learn how to piece together different letter sounds that form words. The pre-recorded audio playback helps kids sound out words (they can record their own voice or their parents, too). Kids can also play a challenging phonics matching game to reinforce learning. Phonics Genius offers a fun way for kids to learn and practice this essential reading skill, especially if they've had some prior reading experience. 

Ease of Play

The flash card style interface for Phonics Genius is clean with clear controls that are easily accessible. Tap or swipe the screen to move between cards; touch the home button to return to the list of flash cards. Customized settings include play mode, arranging sets of flash cards, font style, and audio playback.

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Consumerism

There is one small ad imbedded in the app (at the support screen) that links users to the app developer's page. Occasionally upon start-up, a window pops up asking if you'd like to be directed to similar apps from the iTunes store. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Phonics Genius is a flash card style app designed to help kids learn words by letter sounds. It encourages kids to notice and think about the individual sounds in spoken words. Phonics Genius has over 6,000 words grouped into 225 categories, including single letter and letter combination sounds. There's also a listening game where kids match visual and spoken words, as well as pre-recorded audio playback to help kids hear each word clearly. The words in Phonics Genius are best for kids with previous reading experience, rather than beginning readers.

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What's it about?

Kids begin by selecting a letter or letter combination from the app's home screen, then choose whether they want the sound at the beginning, middle, or end of a word set. In Learning Mode, kids view individual phonics flashcards and practice recognizing letter sounds and words. The app defaults to sounding out the word and highlights the letter sound in red face type on the flash card. In Game Mode, kids try to match a letter sound in a spoken word to as many as six different flash cards containing the same letter sound.

Is it any good?

Phonics Genius is a great app for kids with prior reading experience to improve their reading skills. It intelligently organizes words by letter or letter combination sounds and lets kids practice phonemic awareness and build sight words. Phonics Genius also boosts confidence and challenges kids to try reading new, more complex words.

Phonics Genius falls short, however, on two key fronts. First, the app doesn't have common letter combinations that are essential for beginning readers, such as -at, -et, and -it words. The app also lacks an easy way to customize flash card sets to a show a specific word length in a set. Beginning readers can handle three- and four- letter words ("ship," for example) but may get overwhelmed with larger words that, by default, are in the same set with the same letter sound (i.e. "sheepskin," for example). As is, Phonics Genius is best for kids who are emergent readers with previous reading experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can help kids build word power by learning the definitions of the words they're reading. 

  • Play a rhyming game with the word kids are learning. Rhyming helps kids develop phonemic awareness by recognizing letter and sound patterns. It also helps increase vocabulary and motivates learning.

App details

For kids who love word games and reading

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