The Electric Company Wordball

Common Sense Media says

Videos from show combine with action to teach phonics.





What parents need to know

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
Not applicable
Not applicable

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
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

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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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

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:January 14, 2011
Category:Educational Games
Publisher:PBS KIDS
Minimum software requirements:iOS 3.0 or later

This review of The Electric Company Wordball was written by

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  • 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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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.

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