Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Singing Alphabet

The Singing Alphabet was created by the Ministry of Letters ltd (kinda sounds like some Harry Potter reference, doesn't it?) As you can tell from the title, it's an app that combines music and the alphabet, where each letter sings its letter-sound in an artsy, jazzy, kinda way. I'm probably not doing it justice with my description, so please take a look at the video below. Price: $0.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPad.Requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: I think the purpose of this app is really to get kids exposed to letters/letter-sounds and music/rhythms, as opposed to any direct teaching. It's pretty free form, where kids can choose whatever letters to start singing. It doesn't label the letters and my version shows only the lowercase. I can see it encouraging kids to try spelling out different words or their names to see what that would sound like. But then you realize that you can't use a letter more than once, so that limits the types of words you can spell correctly. I also think it's easy to get lost in the music and rhythm than to really focus on the letter-sounds. So overall, I think this is actually a cute app to get kids in music with some light exposure to letters. But learning potential may be low. Rating: 3.5/5 (aim for around 4).

Balance: If I think of this as an alphabet learning app, then I think the music aspect overshadows the letter-sounds. I think even if kids are singing along and making the sounds, they might not connect it to the sound that particular letter makes, but rather cute sounds these cute letters are making. It would be more effective if there was a "learning" section first, where the letters at least clearly annunciate their names and sounds and then have what the app currently is as the "putting it all together" game that they could play. From reading the description on iTunes, it sounds like there was clear educational intent for letter learning, so I will rate it as such. Rating: 2.5/5

Sustainability: This is an innovative way to get kids interested in music and letters. If kids like this kind of music, then I think they will enjoy coming back to this app. However, if this kind of music is not their thing, then they might not be engaged. Rating: 3.5/5

Parental Involvement: Parents might find this app engaging for them as well. They can spell words out with their child and see what music it makes. There's no explicit role for parents, but the app can easily be played together. Rating: 3.5/5

Total: 13 out of 20 - 3 stars

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