SentenceBuilder for iPad

Common Sense Media says

Simple sentence games help kids' grammar skills.

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Kids might find it difficult to start when entering the app; text-heavy instructions and a small, awkwardly placed play button can be confusing. Once you're in the game, forming sentences comes with ease, but players must complete a sentence to go back to other screens.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

An advertisement for Pines to Vines, a digital textbook, appears on the settings screen. In-app purchases (of two additional modules) are encouraged.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

First and last names are required, although they can be silly or fictitious. Neither the app nor the developer's website lists a privacy policy.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that SentenceBuilder for iPad helps kids learn to form sentences and gain a better understanding of grammar. This app is helpful for kids who may have difficulty with organization of language issues such as omissions of critical parts of sentences. There are multiple levels to play; kids can create a variety of sentence types across a range of difficulty. A simple game format makes it easy to create sentences, but the cartoonish animations may not motivate all kids in the same way.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • reading
  • writing
  • writing clearly

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • part-whole relationships

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Although the concept is a solid way to get students using language, the game is quite basic and could use better images, animations, and narration to really engage. More ways to play might also do the trick.

Learning Approach

Instead of simply identifying parts of speech, students put them to use creating sentences. Sentence structure and difficulty vary by level, and -- though not explicitly -- some complex grammatical concepts are addressed.

Support

Teachers get data on how many sentences students formed correctly at each level and how many attempts it took them. However, there's no data given on specific skills or parts of speech. Also, getting started is a bit tricky.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • letter or word recognition
  • reading
  • writing
  • writing clearly

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • part-whole relationships

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively

Kids can learn how to create descriptive sentences. The skills practiced in the game transfer to real-life sentence creation, particularly when students must describe settings or events. As they create sentences, kids will learn how descriptive sentences should be structured. Although SentenceBuilder does a good job of teaching sentence structure through fun trial-and-error games, more complex grammatical concepts, such as subject-verb agreement, aren't explicitly taught.

This Learning Rating review was written by Stacy Zeiger

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What's it about?

SENTENCEBUILDER FOR IPAD uses games to guide kids through the sentence-creation process. After setting up an account, kids can choose the level at which they'd like to start. They also can choose the module they'd like to play and how often they want to view animations. Parents can create and manage multiple accounts within the app.

During the game, kids see a picture and a word-selector tool, which they use to choose the words to describe what they see. There are correct and incorrect combinations, and kids move the selectors to form a grammatically correct sentence. Details play an important role. For example, if a clown is juggling three balls, the sentence "the clown is juggling four balls" won't fly. Stats track the number of sentences attempted, as well as the number of correct sentences on the first, second, and third attempts. However, the app doesn't measure success with specific parts of speech or grammatical concepts like subject-verb agreement.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

SentenceBuilder for iPad can be a valuable way to help emerging readers and writers learn to create grammatically correct sentences. Also, although the app won't teach it directly, kids can pick up some of the important grammar skills that people tend to pick up more implicitly, simply through reading and using language. Often, reading and conversing with others are the best ways for kids to glean these skills. However, where books and conversations don't always give feedback on mistakes, SentenceBuilder for iPad can help support kids as they learn the thought process behind sentence-building.

Unfortunately, the design lacks a bit of polish and pizzazz. Pictures designed to accompany the sentences resemble low-quality clip art. Also, some cheesy animations designed to motivate kids have no relevance to the sentences and seem a bit haphazardly placed.

Families can talk about...

  • Using meaningful events from your kids' lives, write out words on index cards and have kids arrange them into sentences.

  • Play the app along with kids -- help them with feedback as they work to form grammatically correct sentences.

App details

Device:iPad
Price:$5.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:June 5, 2013
Category:Education
Size:80.60 MB
Publisher:Mobile Education Store LLC
Version:1.9
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.1 or later

This review of SentenceBuilder for iPad was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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