I’m a big fan of technology in the classroom for students of any age, and it’s obviously something many app developers have already tapped into. The iPhone is a very intuitive device, and kids enjoy using it, so why not give them something educational to do rather than accidentally calling all of the D’s in your phone book?
MyIphonics I is the first in a series of apps by MyiPhonics, Inc., designed to help children in pre-k and kindergarten learn the alphabet and the actual sounds each letter makes. When your target audience is 5 years old, the app needs to be simple and entertaining, and MyIphonics succeeds at that.
The app opens to cute music, then right to the Sounds page, so no need for menu navigation from the start. The consonants are up first, twenty little pictures with words that start with the letter (a basketball for B, a tiger for T, etc.) Touching the picture prompts an articulate voice to say the word, then instruct the child to say the sound the letter makes (not the letter name itself). Touching the arrow or swiping the screen brings you to the vowel page, which is the same.
Because all of the consonants fit on one screen, the pictures are rather small. The vowel pictures are the same size. I think bigger pictures spread out over more pages might be a little easier for young ones – I’ve taught kindergarten before, and too much in one place tends to make them lose focus. I also think being able to play in landscape mode might help little hands hold on to the phone a bit better.
Next to Sounds on the navigation menu is Flash Cards, which is my favorite part of the app. Each flashcard fills the screen with a picture, the letter, and a star. Touch the picture to hear the sound the letter makes at the beginning of the word, and touch the star to hear the letter itself. An arrow brings you to the next flashcard. They’re simple, the pronunciation is very articulate, and I think these would be great for kids to practice.
The third component is the game. Starting the game brought up a window asking if I wanted to buy more letters. I half-wondered if this was a Jeopardy kind of game (“want to buy a vowel?”), but then I checked the MyIphonics iTunes page. There are two apps in the series, and from what I understand of the description, the game that comes with this app is a “Lite” version. That means the game comes with six letters, and to purchase the full game is $0.99. So keep this in mind if you want the full game for your child.
The game is cute – three of the now familiar pictures are lined up over a blank space, along with a letter and the star. Touch the star to hear the name of the letter, touch the pictures to hear the sounds their beginning letters make, then drag the correct picture to the blank spot. If you drag the wrong one you get a silly noise, and the right answer gets applause.
The flashcards alone are enough to sell me on this. The bottom line is that a $0.99 price for the app and full game is definitely a fair one for what you’re getting.
MyIphonics I is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. It requires the iPhone OS 3.1 or later.