As much as I try to avoid too much technology in our house, whenever I hear about a new educational app, I have to check it out. My boys have loved playing with the new Phonics Museum App (or click here for a direct link to the iPad app store) from Veritas Press.
What is the Phonics Museum App?
The Phonics Museum App is an interactive app designed to teach phonics and basic cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. The main character, Percival, leads the children through an art museum, stopping at each picture to discuss letters.
I appreciate the art aspect of this. A picture of apples becomes more than just something to acknowledge and walk passed, but an opportunity to talk about the letter A. Once “inside” the picture, there is a series of videos and games to help a child learn the letter, the sound it makes, and how to write it.
What we liked about the Phonics Museum App:
- I appreciated the variety of teaching methods. The games are geared for preschoolers.
- The teacher, Miss Biddle, is wonderful. In my days of teaching preschool, she is the personality we all knew we should display, but no one could ever seem to muster without a gallon of coffee! She wears an outfit that reminded my eldest of Miss Frizzle from Magic School Bus. And in a perky and engaging manner, she presented the letters and gave the game instructions.
- The variety of art served as a great way to introduce a young child to an art museum. I’ve never dared to take my boys to an art museum because I can’t imagine what two squirrelly boys would do in a room full of masterpieces. It may be several years before I attempt that, so this was a great introduction to an art museum.
A few things we struggled with:
- My kids both fall within the recommended age for this app (age 3-7), however, it really is geared toward those learning how to read. I set up the account for my almost-4-year-old because we’re working on learning letter sounds this year, which is where this app starts. It was too much for him. This program uses a mastery approach (one concept at a time), so they expected my son to fully learn the letter A before moving onto B. And that’s fine except that my son was still learning to distinguish what the letter A looks like among other letters when he was suddenly expected to identify the sound of the letter as well. My big kid joined him and they played together – often for their full hour of iPad time.
- There’s a song that they sing often with all the letters, but the letters are not in alphabetical order. It took me until my boys were further into the game before I realized that the letters are in the order in which they are presented in the app. (They present them in an order that makes sense for learning to read, which is the purpose of this app, so this isn’t something we necessarily struggled with, but something that bothered me until I figured out the purpose behind the order.)
- The handwriting was hard. There’s a shadow hand that mimics the movement of the child’s hand while tracing the letters. My preschooler couldn’t handle it. The shadow hand confused him and his big brother had to do this activity for him.
We limit what our boys are allowed to play with on electronics. This one made the cut. Even if it’s too much at this point for my preschooler, it’s something my boys can do together. And my big kid knows that this year’s goal is to teach his little brother the letters and letter sounds, so he’s eager to sit and work on this with him.