Pre-K Letters and Numbers

App review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Pre-K Letters and Numbers App Poster Image
Good tracing practice if kids can work around the kinks.

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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 trace letters (capital and lowercase) and numbers 0-9 with Pre-K Letters and Numbers. After following numbered steps to trace a letter they hear its name, its sound, and a picture of an animal or food that starts with that letter. After tracing numbers, they'll see the same number objects appear (smiley frogs, for example). Kids can practice letter tracing with Pre-K Letters and Numbers, but it's too easy to make errors without the right technique, and the app lacks constructive feedback.

Ease of Play

Kids need a very steady finger to get through each letter and number. They can't pick up their finger while completing a line or curve, and if a stray finger touches the edge of the screen (which happens most often when a parent or sibling is helping them get started) they need to start over. On the other hand, if they are, say, tracing a number "1" marked by vertical numbers in circles from 1 to 4 they can drag a finger from 1 to 2 then 2 to 3 then 3 to 4 with big sweeps or circles outward between each number, just as long as they keep their finger down and go in the right order. So in some ways tracing is too hard for users and in others it's too easy to make lots of squiggles. Also, for the hardest number -- 8 -- numbers in the very center overlap making them hard to read and follow.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The free app only includes a few letters and numbers. Unlocking all letters is a $1.99 in-app purchase.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that if you're interested in having your child play Pre-K Letters and Numbers it's a better experience to pay the $1.99 for the upgraded version reviewed here. The free app doesn't have the Report Card feature or all of the letters and numbers (with even fewer letters and numbers free on the iPhone version than the iPad version). Kids need a steady hand to trace uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers 0-9. If other fingers touch the corner of the screen or the tracing finger is picked up too early, kids will have to repeat the step until it's right. The online Report Card offers success rate percentages, specific problem spots, and more.

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What's it about?

A simple menu screen allows kids to select capital or lowercase letters, numbers, or letter combos (sh, er, etc.). A large letter appears with numbered steps to trace it. Kids follow the numbers to make a first line, then follow the numbers again if there are more steps. Stray from a numbered path and you'll need to try again. When kids complete a letter or number they are encouraged by a cheer, and see a related picture. A parent "Report Card" gives stats on kids' performance.

Is it any good?

If you're looking for something pretty straightforward for tracing practice, PRE-K LETTERS AND NUMBERS is it, as long as kids do a little troubleshooting in the beginning. It can be frustrating when a rogue pinkie knuckle or stray fingers touch the screen because it immediately registers as an error. And there are no extra hints, directional arrows, or tracing examples given when the errors continue. You're allowed to skip to the next one, but it's sure to show up on the Report Card feature.

It's great that this app lets you register more than one kid for a Report Card, but with all the percentages and stats and those nagging comparisons between your 4-year-old and others it seems like a little much for the age. The stat phobic can skip down to the "Problem Spots," however, make a mental note, and continue to practice whenever the mood strikes, on the back of grocery lists, or in chalk next to the sidewalk hopscotch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Take note of "trouble spots" from the Report Card feature and practice whenever the mood strikes: on the back of grocery lists, with sidewalk chalk, etc.

  • Tracing practice is even more fun with an old cookie sheet and a big glob of finger paint.

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