Wallykazam! Letter and Word Magic

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Wallykazam! Letter and Word Magic App Poster Image
Magical adventure uses excellent early literacy approach.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn early literacy skills playing Wallykazam! Letter and Word Magic. They're empowered to choose which activity to explore and will develop a deep understanding of letters and words to help them develop reading skills. They'll practice recognizing lowercase letters. They'll write lowercase letters and learn the phonetic sound for each letter. They'll pay attention to word sounds in rhyme and word beginnings, and they'll learn new vocabulary words interactively as they see Borgelorp demonstrate the descriptive words. Wallykazam! Letter and Word Magic is a fun, well-designed learning experience for preschoolers and budding readers.

Ease of Play

Instructions are given verbally. There's no penalty for wrong answers, and each game's character offers encouragement and reminders as kids play. Kids do have to shift the device when playing the tower game, but verbal instructions walk them through the change.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

The start screen includes a logo link to other NIck Jr. apps, with access protected by a kid-lock code. The app is a tie in to the Nick Jr. television show WallyKazam!

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wallykazam! Letter and Word Magic is an preschool literacy app based on the Nick Jr. show Wallykazamthat features non-threatening ogres, dragons, giants, and fairies to teach early reading skills like letter recognition, letter tracing, and phonics. Kids create their own user account (up to four accounts on each device) and explore the village, playing four different mini-games. The fourth game also serves as a reward activity where kids animate a little monster using descriptive words they've unlocked while playing the other games. There are separate versions of the app for iPhone and iPad, with the HD iPad version costing a few dollars more.

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What's it about?

Wallykazam! characters take kids through four literacy-building games. Libby Light Sprite helps kids trace lowercase letters and reinforces the phonetic sounds of each letter. Kids look for letters that Bobgoblin has hidden in the forest, matching the letter, hearing its name and its phonetic sound. Then kids match rhyming words or word sounds to build a tower as tall as Gina Giant. Kids unlock new words after a few rounds of play that they can then use to animate Borgelorp and improve their vocabularies.

Is it any good?

WALLYKAZAM! LETTER AND WORD ADVENTURE's fun characters will delight preschoolers, and its 3-D graphics are simply amazing. But it's the learning content that really makes it magical. The four games each focus on an aspect of learning to read in a way that is fun for kids while reinforcing pre-reading skills. The use of lowercase letters is a nice touch since the majority of text that kids encounter while reading is in lowercase form. Each activity emphasizes phonics, with kids hearing both the letter's name and its phonetic sound. The tower game will challenge kids, and the amount of content within that one mini-game is impressive by itself. Kids will work with rhyming words, finding words that begin with the same letter sound, or finding words that have the same starting blend. The reward activity is really innovative and manages to still incorporate learning. Kids will learn new words (like fluorescent) when they unlock the word and then drag it into place to change Borgelorp. It's beautiful, fun, and educational.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Play word games similar to the tower-building game. Take turns naming words that begin with the same letter sound or rhyming words.

  • Fill a tray or baking sheet with salt and have kids trace letters in the salt for a tactile writing game.

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