Playful animated videos that teach the meaning of new words
What we’d love to see…
Words to be introduced in increasing levels of difficulty, spelling from left to right only, more explicit prompts to help teach how to blend sounds
An engaging and outstanding multi-game app that teaches children how to spell, read and learn new vocabulary words that are beyond their school levels
Wonster Words Learning by 77Sparx Studio recently had a major upgrade to give children a new learning and play experience while retaining the same fun and playful approach that appeals to children.
From just Word Families, the app now engages learners through Stories, Math, Science and, Art and Music to teach students phonics, spelling and vocabulary. While the Phonics Word Families and Stories teach students new words by spelling and sounding them out, words introduced in the Math, Science and, Art and Music sections are taught by sight.
Before your child begins to play, I would recommend you to switch to the option to learn words in lower case in the settings as upper case letters are the default (unless you prefer to use upper case). You can also opt to turn off the music background in the app.
There are currently 11 word families included in the app. Each word family introduces 8 words from the word family that are of mixed levels of difficulty. For example, the ‘at’ word family has the words splat, brat, rat, copycat, cat, flat, acrobat and bat instead of the usual simple CVC words like bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, pat, rat, sat and vat.
For each word, students are prompted to complete the word puzzle, from left to right, using the freely floating animated letters. But kids can also piece the word puzzle in random order. They can hear the associated phonic sound as they drag and drop each animated letters. Tapping on the letters in the word puzzle also produces the phonic sound. But once the animated letter is put in place in the word puzzle, the letter name is read out instead of the phonic sound. So kids get to learn both the letter name and sound.
After the word has been put together, a fun animated video clip featuring the Wonster characters is played to demonstrate the meaning of the word. For simpler words, a mini-game based on the word will start.
More words are introduced in the 11 original Wonster stories that revolve around popular children’s themes like birthdays, friendships, adventures, nature and space. Words relating to the theme of the story are taught following the sequence of the story. Word puzzles are also used here to reinforce the letter names and sounds. Again playful animations help define the meaning of each new word. What proved to be a hit with my youngest were the mini games that he was rewarded with as he built more words along the story path.
For this update, the developers added puzzles and mini-games covering Math & Logic, Science & Nature, and Art & Music from their award-winning Puzzingo app to further build students’ vocabulary. I think it is meaningful for children to learn new words in context when these are grouped according to themes.
Math & Logic Puzzles
Science & Nature Puzzles
Art & Music Puzzles
Wonster Words excels in a few important ways. The animation video used to demonstrate the meaning of words are very well done. I like that there are lots of humor and playfulness in the videos to engage young learners. Plus there are some memorable comments (like “It’s easier to unwrap than to giftwrap” and “Never give up on the things that are important to you” ). Another star feature is the inclusion of many fun mini games related to the vocabulary words to keep learners entertained and interested. There is never a dull moment.
While the word and puzzles are easy to play, the learning content is not preschool materials but chosen to stretch students beyond their years. The words taught are varied in theme and difficulty level. And there are 3 different ways in which children can learn new words – by word families, through stories and themed puzzles. It’s amazing how much new knowledge young children can absorb when given the right tool. They learn difficult words easily when the gameplay is designed at their interest level.
Access to the app’s huge amount of content is through a monthly subscription of $7.99 after a 7-day free trial. A one-time payment for the lifetime all-access Pro version is $54.99. So, start the trial with your child right away and decide which option is the most suitable for your family’s needs before the trial period is over. You may be surprised to see how much your child will be enjoying learning while playing with the app.
Lots of great activities to engage readers including letter formation, sight words, reading comprehension, writing pad, alphabet, listening skills, Multi-user capability. Interactive word pad lets kids experiment with word and sound formation.
What we’d love to see…
a test to skip materials already previously learned, some sort of “trophy” or awards case to demonstrate progress and ability to export the lesson progress.
Content rich app which will help kids with a number of skills including letter formation, letter sounds, reading comprehension and sight words.
Read – Kids learn to read and write in 20 easy lessons by Olivier Romanetti of One Tree Hill Studio is a universal app for iOS targeting kids aged four through 8 (or second grade) which helps them to acquire core reading skills including letter formation, sight words, reading comprehension, writing pad, alphabet, listening and more. The narration can be done in a United States narrator, English narrator, Australian narrator or Indian narrator. You can also speed up or slow down the words per minute and pitch of the speaker as well as turn on and off the background music. The app uses phonics teaching sight words in combination with word decoding. It also includes multi user capabilities and lesson progress
The app features twenty different lessons with over 100 different exercises and interactive stories. It is designed for the beginning reader through approximately second grade. Letters are introduced in the app by frequency – something that my son struggled with a bit because he felt they were “out of order”.
Letter tracing: Using a finger or stylus your child traces the letter using a supplied model and repeats five times to demonstrate mastery
How do you spell it: Listen to a sound and pick the correct letter from a field of six options.
Choose the right word: Listen to a word pronunciation and pick the correct answer
Listen & Write: Listen to the word and put the letters on the line to spell it
Match Words & Sounds: Match a sound with the written form of it – perfect for practicing sight words
Interactive Writing Pad: Children can “construct” words and sentences by dragging and dropping individual letters, making letter combinations which are read aloud as the app is played.
Stories & Questions: Starting at lesson 5, stories are given in the context of the app and the user is tested for reading comprehension
Learn the Alphabet: This helps kids connect letter names and letter sounds with both uppercase and lowercase letters
Sight Words & Phrases: Over 100 sight words and sight phrases used in the English language
This is a brightly colored app that engages kids to learn core reading and writing skills. The activities are presented in a patterned way which requires children to finish specific tasks before moving on which is important for early learning skills. I also liked that as you traced letters or spelled words out that they were sounded out which helped kids attribute the letter sound to the written letter. Our favorite section – since my son knew many of the sight words was the original story content. My son enjoyed hearing the stories – although I did have to adjust the word speed so he could follow along more easily – the words were spoken quickly and at times the highlighting and words didn’t match what was being said. We also liked the sight phrases since my son has moved on beyond his core sight words and wanted to work more on putting words together.
In terms of improvements – at times it was hard to discern the word as it was spoken and it would be nice if you could have a second choice. It would also be nice if the app dynamically adjusted based on if you were getting answers right or wrong. A visual cue especially for the easier lessons would be helpful too if a child is getting answers wrong – for example showing a picture of a mat along with the spoken word and spelling it out. I would also like to see the option to “test” so that children can test out of content they might have already learned which would make it repetitive. Some of the letter formation was different compared to what my son learned in school, but that may vary based on geography. My son also asked for some sort of “trophy” or reward that you could earn after completing levels which would demonstrate mastery. It would also be nice if you could transfer progress from device to device – my son played both on my iPhone and iPad and was frustrated when he had to repeat things he had done before. I’d also like to be able to export my lesson progress. I’d also like to see more options for the letter formation as my son didn’t learn with the manuscript option in school.
Overall, this is a content rich app which will help kids with a number of skills including letter formation, letter sounds, reading comprehension and sight words. It is a great app to help kids with learning or one to help them practice over the summertime and prevent the #summerslide. The app includes a parental gated area with a multiplication problem that does have external links. There are no in-app purchases.
Category: Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
make it playable offline, customizations, better narration, less loading and wait time, more interactivity in Pencil Playground
Ooka Island is a reading app that teaches children phonics and reading comprehension through play.
Ooka Island is a reading adventure game. Geared for preschoolers, Ooka Island helps children become excellent readers by teaching them five essential skills for reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. It does this through short and simple games that follow and adapt to the child’s individual progress.
In Ooka Island, children are on a mission to help free the Ooka Elves from flying pigs, otherwise known as the the Mischievous Fliggs. They are accompanied by Auntie K and Zobot the robot who directs them on where to go around the island. As they play in different areas of the island, they earn virtual stickers, unlock items, earn Ooka Mist (Ooka Island currency), and get a chance to find missing books. For every five books they find, an Ooka Elf is freed.
There are nine games in the island. Eight games help children with phonemic awareness and phonics. The Cave of Sounds teaches children phonemic awareness and phonemes by encouraging children to listen to a sound prior to showing them the sound’s corresponding letter(s). Cake Factory, Bubbly Troubly, and Submarine Listening helps children associate sounds with letters or blends. Z-Doo encourages children to say the sounds out loud. Clumsy Wacky Moving Company shows children how to combine sounds to make a word. Alphabet Mountain helps children with letter recognition. Word Ball helps children differentiate between a word and a syllable.
Fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are addressed in the Popcorn Library. There are a total of 85 missing books. When a book is found, it is immediately added to the library. Children will first read through the book with help from Auntie K and Zobot. Auntie K explains what is going on in the story and Zobot reads the words. After reading through it once, children play a pop the bubble game where they are tested with comprehension questions. Next, they go back and read the book again with Zobot narrating. Finally, they play a game that corresponds to their reading level. In Emergent Level 1, they play Seashell Words where they match a sound they hear with a word on the seashells. Then they play a card matching game with the same words they learned in the Seashell Word game. In Emergent Level 3, they select the correct sequence of events in the story and work on learning some antonyms. After collecting the first 5 books a new play option “Read” becomes available in the main menu (prior to the that only the Play option is available) allowing children to go the Popcorn Library directly instead of playing the game. In this mode, there are 3 options to read the book: Read with With Us (with Zobot and Auntie K), Read with Zobot, and Read By Myself.
I like that the games in Ooka Island are interesting and are neither too long so that the kids get bored or too short so they don’t grasp what is being taught. They are entertaining enough for children to want to come back and play them again and again. I love that there is also a time limit for both learning and play. After a few minutes of learning, children are given about 3 minutes of free play time where they can explore any part of the island. I also like that children get to unlock items as they play and earn Ooka Mist to purchase items to add to the playground. This gives them more incentive to come back and play and learn. I also like that children are not only taught how to read words but to understand what they are reading.. Finally, I like that there are weekly progress reports and worksheets to use off the app.
There are quite a few things I feel this app needs to make it worth its asking price, and I would love to see them on future updates. I would like to be able to customize the app for my child’s individual needs. I would like to be able to select a reading level or play level. I would also like to be able to choose target sounds and words to focus on. Forcing the child to start from the very beginning limits this app to pre-readers and very early readers. I think this app could be useful for those who have learned some sounds but still need help with others and with becoming fluent readers. These children need to start at their level or they would be bored and not be interested in this app at all. The app does adapt to the child so eventually my child was advanced to the next level. However, they only advanced her with the reading books. All the other activities on the island were still on the lower level and she was getting quite frustrated with seeing the same sounds over and over again, doing well with it, and still being stuck on that level. I believe the child earns a sticker every time s(he) passes a level, and it seems to take longer on some games than on others.
I would like to have different narrator voices for each of the characters in the book. Zobot as the narrator does not make sense in the emergent level books when Auntie K says “Listen to what Kayla says” and then you hear a male adult voice. Zobot also has an almost monotonous voice, making reading rather dull. I also Auntie K does not always have to explain everything to children, especially after they have passed the first 10 books or so. I would like the option to disable this feature in the Play mode to give children the opportunity to explain what they think is going on in the story and practice observation and deductive reasoning skills. I think it would be great of the same 3 reading options were made available in Play mode as they are in Read mode.
There is also a lot of loading and wait time every time you play a game in different parts of the island. There is no need to keep going back to the map before going to the next game or to keep repeating instructions at the beginning of the games. Instead, I would like an option to turn off the instructions after the child has played through the game at least once and already knows what to do. In the Pencil Playground, every time you get to an activity they always first ask “Do you want to play with X?” and then the child has to select yes or no. If they do select yes, the character plays with the item just once and for only a quick second or two. It would be better, faster, and more enjoyable for the child to just be able to point and click on an object to use it.
I would like children to be able to interact with the Ooka Elves they have freed and the pets they have bought. For example, there is a seesaw in Pencil Playground and it would be nice if they have one of the elves sit on it too The child’s character/avatar plays seesaw all by itself which looks, according to my daughter, really sad. When you unlock a pet, the app says you can play with it in Pencil Playground after you purchase it. Playing with it is simply letting it out of its house and following it around. You cannot pet it or do anything else with it. I would like to see the elves and pets be more interactive.
As I mentioned before, I like the weekly progress reports. However, I would find it more useful if it included a list of sounds and words that had been introduced and how well each one was mastered. This way parents and teachers can see what specific areas their child needs extra help with.
Finally, I do not like that you have to be online to play the app. Apps geared for children, specially educational apps, should always be playable offline or have an option to do so.
Overall, I think Ooka Island has a lot of good things to offer as a reading program. If you have child who is just learning how to read or is a struggling reader, you can check out their free trial to see if Ooka Island meets your needs.
Fully customizable lessons with lots of different learning modes.
What we’d love to see…
Even more boards on math.
Bitsboard Pro is the ultimate educational app with top-quality content and outstanding enabling features to meet the learning needs of every child.
How many times have you wished that you can modify a well-developed learning app just that little bit to better match your child’s skills. Or thought of replacing some of the content with your own instead? Have you ever wondered if there is this ONE App that can meet most (if not all) of your child’s educational needs? What about an app that can accommodate the educational goals and learning difficulties of an entire class?
This is a tall order for any app considering children learn at different pace and thrive in different learning environment. And to be able to add our own content in an app seems like an impossible task! But Bitsboard Pro has all our wishes covered. It is the ultimate educational app for children from preschool right up to elementary school level, giving you access to thousands of topics (with many new ones added every month) and the ability to customize the way students learn in the app as well as the app content itself.
Alright, most of us don’t have the time nor inclination to create our own content. We just want an app that has ready-to-download learning materials and Bitsboard has lots of content to offer. After creating a user account, you can browse through Bitsboard’s extensive lessons catalog or search for specific lessons and download (over the internet) the ones that you need. Here, lessons are presented in individual boards, each containing a series of flashcards (bits). Topics include languages, vocabulary, grammar, reading (sight words, word families, phonics, readers), sentence maker, speech, spelling, letter tracing, math facts, math operations, money, time telling, sign language, routines, sequences, emotions and many more! The free version of Bitsboard itself comes with lots of shared resources that you can start with right away.
What I really love in Bitsboard is that you can choose up to 30 fully customizable learning modes or games that help children to learn and retain the information presented in the lessons. You can start with the simpler games and progress to the more complex ones. With so many different ways to learn the same materials, students remain engaged and learn better. Check out Bitsboard’s long list of fun learning games – Flashcards, Explore, True or False, Photo Touch, Photo Hunt, Memory Cards, Pop Quiz, Match Up, Word Builder, Sentence Builder, Spelling Bee, BINGO, Letter Tracing, Sequences, Related items, Word Search, Word Chunks, Crosswords, Unscramble, Say It, Missing Item, Puzzles, Reader, What’s Next, Odd One Out, Sort It, Side by Side, Story Time, Genius, Review Game and Board Creator
For each game, you can modify things like the session length, with or without visual/audio hints, spelling order, display options, number of tiles, matching options and answer mode. Customization is easy but it would be tedious if you have more than 1 user. Luckily, you don’t have to keep adjusting the settings and preferences as these are saved for each user (unlimited users for the Pro version). Likewise, the tracking of detailed progress and lesson plans is stored at the user level. Bitsboard’s learning algorithm also ensures that each game automatically advances according to the individual user’s skills.
If you are an educator, you will like the ease of creating custom lessons with your own cards (from photo library, dropbox, web search or Bitsboard Catalog of images), audio recording and text (words, phrases, sentences, description). Your students can learn anything you present to them using the Bitsboard learning games. You can also set up your own exclusive class with your own selection of boards for sharing with your students or fellow teachers privately.
I’m truly impressed with all the meaningful features that have been continually added in Bitsboard in order to support students and educators. There are many more that are not mentioned here. This all-in-one educational app far exceeds all my expectations in terms of content and ability to be customized. I don’t think you’ll find another app that is as versatile and comprehensive as this. Bitsboard Pro is an essential learning app that all families and classes must have!
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