Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds App Poster Image
Favorite characters lead kids through early reading skills.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn some basic fundamentals of individual letters as well as how letters and letter sounds form words. They'll trace upper- and lowercase letters and learn the letter's name and sound. Kids will practice segmenting words by syllable and by individual letter to pick out the different letters and sounds that form the word. Through exploring rhyme and alliteration, sounds in words are also grouped together. Finally, kids will get practice spelling simple three-letter words by picking out each letter one by one. With Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds, kids will get lots of practice and build familiarity with letters and the sounds they make in words.

Ease of Play

If the clear audio and visual instructions don't help, kids can easily experiment through trial and error.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds uses characters from the popular TV series Doc McStuffins to explore letters, the sounds they make, and how they form simple words. If kids are familiar with the show, they may be more drawn to it, but it's definitely not necessary. There are five activities, each with a different focus, that increase in difficulty as kids keep playing. If parents are also interested in the next app in the series, Read with DocMcStuffins: Word Building, buy them as a bundle to save a few bucks. The thorough privacy policy details the kinds of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

READ WITH DOC MCSTUFFINS: LETTERS AND SOUNDS gives kids five games that explore the sounds letters make and their place in words. There's a suggested order to the games, though kids are free to play in whatever order they wish. One game explores upper- and lowercase letters on their own; a second has kids identify the beginning letter sounds of simple words; a third explores rhyming and alliteration; a fourth stresses how to listen for syllables; and the last has kids construct three-letter words. Each activity includes interactive play and has multiple levels that often get harder as kids progress.

Is it any good?

With five activities that address different pieces of literacy, kids have a lot to do, and parents will like the amount of content for the price tag. Games are varied, from tracing letters to making rhymes to segmenting syllables to picking out the individual letter sounds in short, simple words. The variety helps present a big picture of what letters -- and the sounds they make -- do in words. Letter work is nicely interspersed with fun little interactive elements, but some games work better than others: For example, the syllable music player is not entirely clear, but overall the activities are straightforward. One downside is that there's only minimal help for kids who don't get the right answer immediately, beyond giving them the chance to get there eventually through trial and error. Another is that sometimes single-letter sounds add unneeded emphasis, so when a block says the letter "b," it sounds like "buh," which isn't ideal when learning letters and sounds. Overall, however, the activities address the needs of preschoolers and offer a lot of content that kids will love.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about letters and their sounds in familiar words such as names, favorite foods, animals, and so on. Help kids sound out each part of the word and blend the sounds.

  • Have kids trace letters on paper, too, since tracing with a finger on a screen is different from holding a pencil or crayon.

  • Consider reading a literacy expert's guidance on choosing letter- and phonics-focused apps.

App details

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