One of our favourite apps last year was Endless Alphabet, a well-made game that managed to make spelling both funny and interesting. Good quality animation and silly sounds together with creative word choices (‘humungous’, ‘bellow’) kept my son coming back to play.
We were thrilled to find a new app from Originator, Endless Reader.
Using a similar format, Endless Reader gets children to pull the letters into order, each one making its phonetic sound, as in Endless Alphabet. This app goes one further, however, and offers a sentence to assemble as well. The word the child has just spelled is waiting to be put in the right place, as is two or three other words. These ones are ‘sight words’ – like the, and, is and to – that are hard to sound out phonetically, don’t have meanings that are easy to illustrate in picture form, and come up often. The goal is for the child to recognize these words by their shape, and learn how they work in context.
Once the sentence is complete, the narrator reads the sentence and the monsters act it out. There is a repeat button, and my son often watches the animations two or three times after completing a sentence.
This all sounds quite simple, but what sets it apart is the quality of both the narration and animation. The whimsical monsters are perfect – funny, a bit weird, and incredibly flexible. The voice acting is professional and clear. I’m disappointed so many app developers are unwilling to pay for proper voice overs; it is so frustrating to listen to badly read stories or even mispronounced words in what is ostensibly an education app. That’s one of the reasons the Endless apps are such a joy – the narrator sounds like she would be great fun to play with.
The initial app is free, with packs of additional new words costing $2.99. Download Endless Reader from the App Store.
Quick, go download this app and then come back and read my review – it’s free right now and I wouldn’t want you to miss it.
Endless Alphabet is a neat phonics app for kids. Simple yet engaging, like all the best apps for children, it presents a word in colourful letters, only to have all those letters scattered by a charging mob of monsters. This makes Elliot giggle every time. He then drags each letter back in place (not necessarily in order, thankfully) to match a pencil outline. Each letter makes a silly noise that corresponds with its phonetic sound as he drags it, as well as dancing around a bit.
When Elliot finishes putting all the letters in place, not only does a nice Sesame Street-like voice say the completed word, but there’s a little animation to explain what it means. We’re not talking just ‘cat’ and ‘flop’ but lovely juicy words like ‘hilarious’, ‘bellow’ and ‘gargantuan’.
Within two minutes of playing this app, Elliot was saying the letter sounds along with dancing letters and giggling as two monsters lifted a block together to demonstrate ‘cooperate’. The animations are beautiful and quirky, and the voice over is professional. I love this one.
Hilariously, Elliot loves the comedy error noise so much, he misplaces letters just to hear it. *eye roll*
There’s no age range on the description, but I’m thinking preschool/kindergarten is probably the best time for it. The words are big enough to keep older kids interested, but even at 3 years old, Elliot finds it entertaining. It’s available for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
Endless Alphabet is developed by Calloway Digital Arts. Free right now!
Disclosure: None, I saw this on the app store and downloaded it myself to check it out.