Duck's Alphabet Website Poster Image

Duck's Alphabet

Fun, simple phonics games hosted by Word World character.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn phonemic awareness through games, songs, and cheerleading from characters Duck and Elephant. Sounds and letters are taught one at a time, and kids get personalized, printable coloring pages as awards for mastery. A parents' section provides a progress report listing the letters kids have learned and suggestions for at-home activities. Duck and Elephant’s encouragement should buoy kids through this letter-learning game.

Positive messages

Learning to read can be fun and simple, and it can start with easy lessons for even the youngest computer users. This site also offers ways to continue the lessons between caregiver and child offline.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
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Language
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Consumerism

Even though the site is affiliated with the US Department of Education, there is a clear tie-in with Word World, which is a PBS show with toys and other branded items for sale at major chain stores. But no direct ads here, and no way to buy merchandise via the site.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Duck's Alphabet is a colorful, simple site for preschoolers to learn phonics pre-reading skills. Intended for the very early reader, kids need only to listen to instructions and know how to click on a mouse to be able to play. There's one main game theme on this site, which moves through all letter sounds of the alphabet and rewards kids with a printable color sheet at the end of mastering each one.

Kids say

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What's it about?

Kids are shown 26 presents that each make sounds. They click a present to open it, and out pops an object associated with the present’s sound -- for example, a rug for the letter R. Kids help Duck catch the object by recognizing its starting sound among other sounds. When they catch the object, the sound’s letter symbol is revealed. Kids must then identify and click on the letter symbol in a group of other letters. Next, kids choose pictures of objects that start with the sound and finally build a word that starts with the sound.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

For the youngest computer users, the simple and sweet Duck's Alphabet will likely help them feel successful in both website navigation and phonics skills. Many children will recognize the Word World characters, which will help ease them into trying the new skill of matching letter sounds with the letter image itself. The main page game asks kids to choose any of the 26 "gifts." With one click on one of the 26 gift-wrapped boxes, the child enters an activity space about that particular letter sound.  At the end of each lesson, one word is presented for the child to "read," increasing the level of confidence in reading for these newbies. One caveat, for kids who have some reading skills, this site may become monotonous quickly -- all the sub-games within the main game are essentially the same. There are some great offline parent-child reading readiness activities suggested here, too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why learning to read is important (and fun). Read some of the selections on Common Sense Media's Best Books of the Decade for Preschoolers list to introduce your child to the amazing adventures of reading.

  • Talk about the difference between learning and playing online and offline.

  • What's a good amount of time to play online and why do we want to limit how much time we spend online?

Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: following directions, letter or word recognition
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, solving puzzles
Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free

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Educator and Parent of a 1 and 3 year old Written bySMWest1 October 6, 2010

Great for my 3.5-year-old!

My 3.5-year-old loves Word World and loves the computer. I feel safe letting him play around on this site. He LOVES it!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written bygypsywife October 20, 2010
My son loved the posters at the end to colour, and it re-inforced the letters that he had learned. Its great, catchy music for the kids, and although we sat with him, he was able to do it on his own
What other families should know
Educational value
Parent of a 3 year old Written bySunna February 9, 2011

Good add free website for 3 year old

My 3 year old daughter likes it. There are no adds leading her away from the page, which is a must for me. It feels like a safe space. Letter oriented, so we will see how long it holds her attention. But much is always happening, so I think she might play again.
What other families should know
Educational value