Friday, May 25, 2012

Little Bee's ABC

Little Bee's ABC was created by Lisbon Labs. It's an alphabet app that presents multiple activities for each letter such as connect dots to learn the letter's shape, follow line directions to draw letters, paint missing parts of letters, and writing missing letters in words. So lots of letter writing and recognition in different contexts. Price: $2.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: Little Bee's ABC is a super cute app. The graphics are colorful in a soothing way, the voice over descriptions of the objects is lively and, well, cute! I just wish that more attention was paid to how the content is suppose to teach the letters. For each letter, you first see the target letter formed by a something else - like a Jack-in-the-box spring curls over to form the letter P. Ok - cute and fun. But for learning, kids don't recognize these two-in-one things well. Then, you are presented with 6 activities. Again, they are all cute, and maybe together, they help kids learn the letters. But looking at them separately, I can't help but wonder if they could improve the learning aspect. For example, in the connect the dots activity, you connect the dots to form the outline of the letter, so you don't actually connect the dots in the way that you would write the letter. Or, in the "friends" activity, it presents a few examples of objects or whatever that begin with the that letter, and gives cute descriptions of them. But no where in this activity does it actually ever say the letter! Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 4 years)

Balance: The interactivity focus around the letters and the app is overall easy-to-use. I did notice that the app presents the letters in all different kinds of fonts - ranging from simple to cursive, to more abstract like using the objects. While I can see a purpose to exposing kids to different forms of the letters, I do think that some of the staple activities like writing the letters stuck with the more simpler forms. We can leave the calligraphy to a different app, rather than a learning letters app, or at least until we know the kids are pretty comfortable with letter recognition and writing letters. Otherwise, it may just unnecessarily complicate the learning. Rating: 3/5

Sustainability: The variety of activities is a plus. It's a visually appealing app, and I'm a sucker for cute. But there are no goals or much to egg on play, so I'm not sure how much kids will keep coming back to it once they've gone through it all once. Cuteness doesn't work for everyone. Rating: 4/5

Parental Involvement: There's not much for parents to do here except watch along - and of course elaborate when they can. Rating: 3/5

Total: 13 out of 20: 3 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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