Read with Phonics

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Read with Phonics App Poster Image
Alien-themed phonics games are thorough, but lack variety.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to recognize the 44 phonemes in the English language. They'll hear how each phoneme sounds, see the ways the phoneme can be written, and practice fitting the phoneme into words. When kids put phonemes together into whole words, they'll practice reading.

Ease of Play

Sometimes the device's pull-up menu interferes with being able to tap and drag an answer choice. Turn this function off through the settings menu.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The free download includes a limited set of games. Access to the locked content requires an in-app purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Read with Phonics gives kids practice decoding words by breaking them down into the 44 phonemes, or sounds, of the English language. Games are organized by individual phonemes, which are grouped into four different worlds. For each level, kids hear the phoneme pronounced and see it spelled out on its own and in words. The audio narration is in British English, so some words may sound a little different than what an American audience is used to. At the time of this review, technical problems made it impossible to access the parents' section in the app. However, the developer's website includes additional information about using phonics to teach kids to read and offers some tips to parents. The free download includes some demo games, but to unlock the full content parents need to buy each "world" separately for $2.99 to $3.99, or buy a package of all four for $7.99. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Kids play games with one phoneme at a time in READ WITH PHONICS. In each of four different alien worlds, phonemes are ordered from most simple to most complex. When kids complete a game set for one phoneme, they unlock the next. Games include choosing the letter or letters that spell the phoneme, building words from their individual phonemes, matching words to pictures, and identifying real words from made up ones. When kids answer incorrectly more than three times, they have to start the game set again from the beginning.

Is it any good?

This collection of games is a detailed, logical, and thorough journey for those wanting to teach their kids to read using a phonics-based approach. Read with Phonics presents the easy ones first: phonemes made of a single letter like "s" are clustered at the beginning. Through the first world, and then on to the next three, phonemes get increasingly more complex, such as "igh." This means that kids gradually build up their reading confidence and comprehension as they learn more ways to see sounds represented in letter combinations. The major downside to Read with Phonics is that the games kids play are more or less the same for each phoneme, which gets boring and repetitive pretty quickly. On an unrelated note, it can also be frustrating to be kicked out of a level after choosing the incorrect answer a few times. All in all, though carefully and methodically presenting phoneme after phoneme seems like a logical approach, it just needs a bit more variety in approach and working access to the parent section to make it even better.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the phonics approach featured in Read with Phonics. Point out words in books or in your surrounding environment and help kids break the words into their individual sounds. Then explore the letter(s) that make those sounds.

  • 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.

  • Give kids the big picture too. Let kids see the magic of reading by helping them identify whole words in full sentences that form a narrative. Some kids may learn better when they know the context of what they're reading and can get excited about its meaning.

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