Zap Phonics Reading Games Video App Review
With every passing week, I’m more and more impressed with the amount of quality educational apps available for the iPhone. And Zap Phonics, by developer Milk Drinking Cow, is no exception. The game offers a solid, if brief, step in your child’s language development, and the comfortably kitschy package the lesson is wrapped will delight any toddler.
How Does it Work?
As Zap Phonics explains in its forward, the traditional method of teaching children the names of letters before the sounds they make can create problems with first language acquisition. To avoid any such issues, the reading game Zap Phonics offers features the phonological sounds of the letters, and actively encourages your child to make the sounds themselves. The idea is that this reinforces language learning in the toddler, and improves their ability to interpret the symbols as sounds. That’s the science at work here, but how exactly does the app go about teaching?
At the core of the app is a simple drag-and-drop mechanic that any young child will have no problem using. Zap Phonics’ pleasant main characters, Zap and Gus, produce a pile of letters which which can be touched and moved. Once pressed, Zap will pronounce the sound each letter makes. After a bout of quick introductions, Zap shows you a pile of letters that must be guided into Gus’ bucket. And of course, the letter is said aloud each time it is dragged home. It’s a very intuitive mechanic, and it’s simple enough to be entertaining, but not so complex as to distract from the lesson at hand.
How’s the Design?
To answer the question above, the design is a bit brief. There’s only one game at work here, and though it’s a good one, the brevity of this app means you’ll only spend ten minutes or so playing with your toddler. That’s certainly long enough, but I’d still like to see more features. For example, a comprehensive list of all 26 letters would be appreciated, especially if each could be poked to produce a sound. Even just another game would add a lot to this app. But at a dollar, the learning value Zap Phonics offers is hard to argue with.
Is it Worth My Time and Money?
Zap Phonics is a well-designed, decently acted, and lesson-rich app that will entertain your youngster while teaching him or her the sounds of letters. However, its brevity is an issue to address and considering there are so many other quality apps available for young children, it must be weighed carefully—but it received a recommendation nonetheless. Your child will love the characters, graphics, and sounds, and you’ll love the knowledge they gain from playing. And of course, Zap Phonics’ stellar pricing ($ .99) makes it a hefty bargain.
Zap Phonics Reading Games iPhone app [ iTunes Link ] requires iOS 3.1.3. or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.
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