Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
Developmental Appropriateness: Ok, I must admit, I was at first disappointed. I was expecting crossword puzzles. Yes, for kids, but some form of here's a clue, figure out the answer. This is more of a put the words together. There are pictures, and you make the word for that picture and the words cross and intersection. But even on the highest level, you can just tap on the picture and it tells you the word. But, after I got over the initial realization that this was not a crossword puzzle app, I thought that this was actually a pretty good phonics app. The 10 levels may seem like they only increase in difficulty by a smidgeon, but the progression actually makes sense - although I'd still like to see it get into a larger range of words and combinations of sounds or even not providing the labels for the pictures so kids have to figure it out. For what's there, throughout the process, it very clearly sounds out everything, from the letter options to as you place them correctly. The blending of the sounds together could be smoother - as is it's very separated so it's hard to hear how all the sounds together make up the word.
I've let go of wanting this to be more like a real crossword puzzle, but I do have to say that the developers still could have given the crossword aspect a little more thought. For example, all the pictures start off in black and white. For one, it's a picture of a painter, and the target word is actually red. But there would have been no way for someone who was trying to figure it out to get "red" from a black and white painter without tapping on it, thus eliminating the fun of "figuring it out." Rating: 4/5 (aim for around 4 years).
Balance - Everything is very simple and focused. I like that it doesn't allow you to do anything until it has completed sounding out and saying the words. Rating: 5/5
Sustainability - Although it seems like there's endless puzzles, there are really only 100 words and animations. Another reason I'd like to see a larger library of words is because a lot of the words start repeating, even within one level. This could get repetitive, and kids will just start memorizing. Rating: 3.5/5
Parental Involvement: There's not much to do here for parents. It'd be great if it could what words the kids are struggling with or at least a list of the words that appear on each level or just some sort of review for parents to generalize and reinforce. Rating: 3/5
Total: 15.5 out of 20 = 4 stars
Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.