Developer: Critical Matter, Inc.
Price: $1.99 Download on the App Store
As a huge proponent of anything that makes learning fun for kids, checking out ABC Animals by Critical Matter, Inc. was a personal pleasure. An educational app aimed at teaching letter recognition and sound to preschoolers through flashcard simulation, ABC Animals is friendly and intuitive and includes a couple of features that makes it very worthwhile.
The concept in ABC Animals is simple, as it should be for its intent. All twenty-six letters of the alphabet, accompanied by corresponding animal pictures, are represented in the virtual “deck.” For example, Aa is represented by a picture of an alligator or anteater, Bb is for butterfly, bird or beaver, and so on. Having different animals to represent the same letter is a nice feature that helps balance the monotony of learning through repetition with the ability to keep a child engaged. Plus, it helps children recognize that many different words start with the same sound. However, a few choices, such as Cc for Clam, baffle me just a little bit, but why not keep it interesting.
In addition to the vibrant and colorful accompanying pictures, the letter names are clearly pronounced. (For 1st generation iPod Touch users, headphones will be necessary for this feature.) The cards can be scrolled through, forwards and backwards, with the swipe of a finger — a feat most any preschooler will quickly figure out. Double tapping on the card flips it over and reveals yet another feature that enables children to hear the phonetic sound the letter makes and write the letter by tracing its upper and lower case versions on screen with simulated writing paper. Shaking erases their tracing efforts and lets them start over.
Overall, ABC Animals provides a unique interactive teaching tool that makes learning letters fun. I did find that the developer’s Web site mentions a few minor abilities, such as turning off the tracing function so children can write the letters from memory, but I have not discovered how to do it. It was also through their Web site that I learned shaking would erase their tracing efforts. That said, I would have liked to have seen a brief parent’s guide or manual included that highlights the app’s features to help parents get the most out of it. However, the concept of interactive flashcards has been well achieved with ABC Animals and the combination of visual appeal and interactive sound and writing practice completes it nicely.