The Electric Company Wordball

App review by
Jonathan H. Liu, Common Sense Media
The Electric Company Wordball App Poster Image
Videos from show combine with action to teach phonics.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

The controls are easy to understand, but the flinging mechanism in the word-creating part may be difficult for younger kids. As you play, a narrator tells you what to do.

Violence & Scariness

When making words, you can turn a wordball into a "blaster ball" to zap words that don't work with the letters. The blaster ball is simply a red starburst that you fling at words, which causes them to disappear.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The Electric Company brand shows up throughout the app, and the game incorporates educational videos from the TV show. The PBS Kids and Sesame Workshop brands also make an appearance.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Electric Company Wordball is an educational phonics game that incorporates video from the popular TV show with a game to teach reading and spelling. The app is branded with The Electric Company's logo but otherwise is not designed to sell any products or other games. The videos are appropriate for any age child learning to read; however, the word-completion portion of the app might be trickier for young kids. Parents should note the large file size -- 112 MB -- due to the videos.

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Is it any good?

THE ELECTRIC COMPANY WORDBALL is a creative use of the TV show's educational videos. While watching one of nine videos teaching a few letter sounds or letter combinations, players tap on the "wordballs" with the featured letter or letter combination. Then, in the second portion of the game, words move across the screen, which may or may not need the collected wordballs to complete them. The player flings the wordballs at the words to complete the words and score points. With graphics, videos, and characters from the TV show, the app does a good job of translating the experience while making it more interactive.

Though the app is intended to teach children who are learning to read, the game might actually be a little difficult for the target age -- flinging the wordballs requires dexterity and arcade-game skills that some 5-year-olds may not have. Also, trying to collect the wordballs during the video may distract from the video itself, since it is hard to pay attention to the words while watching for and tapping the wordballs. Overall, a promising educational app that would be better with a lower difficulty level option for young kids.

App details

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