Read Write Phonics was released in April 2012 – and for us a slightly different approach, as it has been launched for Android phones first, rather than heading the Apple way (that’ll follow towards the end of the year). This isn’t a problem for us, as we both have Android phones, hubs was able to put it on his (I’m still on 2.1 for my OS), and we got it up and working quickly.
I’m often quite paranoid about H being an August baby, and that she’ll be the youngest in her year at school (when she starts in September 2013, erk), so we’re encouraging as much play with learning as possible – and Read Write Phonics is an app we’ll be spending a lot of time on. Also, the app isn’t a full programme in it’s own right – it’s designed to be played and used alongside other products – it’s there to complement it.
The ‘Read’ section has words which are sorted into various categories – explosive, nosey, friction, short vowel and long vowel – and there’s plenty of words to choose from. H isn’t really reading much at the moment (she’s very much read to), but this is a great way to learn, plus there’s so many different ways of saying a lot of letters. Each word is accompanied by an image – for example the letter ‘m’ features with ‘map’.
The ‘Write’ section is a favourite in our house, if only for giving you the chance to write some letters. H is only young (at two years and almost nine months) so occasionally got frustrated when she couldn’t quite get it right – but we found it was a lot easier for her to do with her smaller fingers, than our larger adult ones, so we were often met with a “you’re nearly there!” and “try again!” type comments, which were encouraging and didn’t frustrate her when she didn’t quite do it. I think this aspect would work a lot better on a larger tablet than a phone – but probably for adults (and our big fingers), as H had no problems other than she’d never written anything before. She did manage to write a lot of the easier letters (i, j, o, a, t) so that’s a really good sign!
The ‘Phonics’ section is divided into two sections, small words and big words – and both spell out individual letters you’ll have covered on the earlier sections. I really liked how they’re regular words you’d use every day so there was a good context to it – and nothing too difficult. Also – the way they’re phonetically spelt out is really good – as I’ve found a few games we have will only have one option of how a letter sounds. There’s also combinations, such as words like ‘queen’ breaking it up into qu-ee-n sounds. If you slide your finger quickly along the word it sounds like the actual word, rather than a weird amalgamation of letters – another plus point!
Another bonus – no Comic Sans has been used. I hate that font so much, and while I accept it’s used a lot in child related things it still drives me mad – so to see the much more appealing Sassoon Infant font is a major thumbs up for me!
I was pleased that the phonics are all British English – H comes from a Yorkshire Mum, an Australian Dad and has nursery with people from Sutton and Croydon, so her accent is all over the place at the moment (though definitely London), I found the accent here to be nice and clear and with no regional variation. The app features all 44 phonic sounds of the English language, plus all letters and combinations.
As far as how easy the app is to use, it’s simple tapping, swiping and drawing – something H picked up immediately – it’s very intuitive.
I think this is something that we will benefit from hugely – as we’re just getting into all of this at nursery, plus she’ll be starting pre-school this year which will have a lot more learning going on – so everything is helpful right now.
The target range of this app is ages 3-7, though don’t let that put you off – it’s definitely very user friendly for younger children (and older too!). The Apple version is launched later this year and we’ll definitely be getting a copy for the iPad when it is!
You can buy Read Write Phonics at the Google Play store now for £1.49
Read Write Phonics official site is here, they can also be found on Facebook and Twitter
we received a free download of this app for review.