We've just returned from a holiday in Cyprus - I don't know how we'd have survived the flight* without iPads! (*gin)
But I do worry about my children's use of electronics and try to ensure that any games they play have some educational benefit (this is getting more difficult with the Big One who wants to play Thomas the Tank Engine and Paw Patrol).
And now that he's in Reception at school, it is getting harder to find games which are at his level - things either seem too easy or far too complex.
And, as a reception teacher myself, I find it hard to find games which help my kids learn effectively and not confuse them.
So I was really, and I mean really pleasantly surprised by the Read With Phonics game which we downloaded a couple of weeks ago.
There's a cute little alien character who works his way through games across different islands - it's very visually inviting and the Big One was excited to start playing!
The islands each teach progressively more complex sounds as can be seen below:
The last two islands allow children to think about choosing specific graphemes (the letters) to make the phoneme (the sound).
The Big One LOVED it! He started playing at the last island straight away (because that's the one he happened to click on!) Each game is really comprehensive and follows the same activities - identifying the graphemes, selecting the correct phoneme/graphemes, building words, selecting a word to label a picture, reading words and matching to pictures, reading and sorting real and nonsense words and identifying the phonemes again to finish.
The app has been invented by Sophie Cooper who is a teacher. The fact she is a teacher shows because it is so appealing to children and the progression through phonics skills is fantastic. Children gradually build up their phonics skills (with the 'a' game above, there is no real and nonsense word sorting because this idea and skill comes later - it's things like this which really support children in their play and learning).
Children also earn points as they complete games and there is a line on the side of each game which fills up as they are successful. This is really motivating for the children, as is the alien character giggling and eating the words!
I also liked the pronunciation of the sounds - the words are sounded out for children using pure sounds which really helps them to begin blending the sounds and reading the words. The games also offer automatic feedback so if a child places the incorrect word next to a picture, the game will move the word back to its original place, meaning the child knows they need to try another.
I have yet to use this with my class but I definitely will! For a start I know they will love it - they are really excited by games and the immediate feedback means I could leave it on the interactive whiteboard for them to play independently or with each other, after we have used it as a class.
I was given a code to download the entire app in exchange for an honest review. However, you can download the app for free to try it and, if you enjoy it as much as we did, you can unlock the rest of it. The website below gives all the links you need for downloading on different devices: