App Review: First Words
Review submitted by the lovely Genesis.
Here’s my tip for getting through a restaurant meal with a toddler: get the FirstWords apps from Learning Touch. We have both the Animals and the Vehicles apps ($1.99 each). They also offer a Deluxe edition for $4.99 that has animals, vehicles, colors, shapes, etc.
FirstWords shows a picture of an animal or vehicle, with letter tiles spelling out the name of the object. There are corresponding letter tiles scattered randomly below the image and the child has to move the letter tiles to their appropriate place by correctly matching tiles. Each time my son touches a letter tile, the app reads the letter. When he touches the picture, the app says the name of the object. Once he successfully puts all the letter tiles in their correct places, the app reads each letter, says the whole word, and the picture spins, enlarges and makes the appropriate animal or vehicle sound before moving to the next word. The voice of the male reader is clear and pleasant.
There are some settings you can adjust to make it a little easier or harder depending on your child’s age and familiarity with the app. I love that there are visual cues for beginners who don’t know their alphabet yet. They can randomly move tiles around, but when they get close to the matching tile, it lights up.
My son adores these apps and was very quickly able to use them without help from Mom. He learned his alphabet by playing these games, picked up some vocabulary and now he gets that letters combine to make words. It’s really fun to see him take skills he’s picked up using the iPhone and apply them to reading print books. He loves to spell out titles and words in his books, and it’s very natural to him to move between print and electronic media.
FirstWords apps are currently available for iPhone and iPad, and I thought they were worth every penny. New animals and vehicles have been added at no extra charge with periodic updates of the app, which helps to keep the game interesting. For less than the price of a mocha at Starbucks my son has had hours of entertainment and education, and it’s so nice when my husband and I can actually sit and enjoy a cup of coffee at the end of a meal instead of taking turns chasing our energetic boy around a restaurant. Also great for car trips, plane rides, doctor’s waiting rooms, or anytime the parent in charge needs a little break.
Learning Touch also makes a First Letters and Phonics app. My son loves it, but to me the voice of the reader/singer for the app is only slightly less grating than nails on a chalkboard. Caveat emptor!