Reader Bee and the Story Tree
© 2014 Learning Circle Kids LLC
iPad (497 MB)
Teaches: Reading skills, phonemic awareness, fine motor, CVC words
Tagged for: Early Reading, Reading Skills, Classics
Here's a 21st century bargain: an adaptive curriculum for emerging readers, with record keeping, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. This big download (497 MB) takes on an equally big challenge: to move a non-reader into a reader, through a sequence of 30 carefully designe...
Here's a 21st century bargain: an adaptive curriculum for emerging readers, with record keeping, for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. This big download (497 MB) takes on an equally big challenge: to move a non-reader into a reader, through a sequence of 30 carefully designed lessons that target preschool and kindergarten-age children, aged four-and five-years, who are just starting to decode. It is not for older children who are already reading. The curriculum is built around lower-case CVC words -- three letter words like cat, hat and sat -- that are selected because they are easy to see and say. What's unique about this approach is the way common words are visually organized around honeycomb-shaped vowel daisies where each cell is a letter. As children fill in the cells, one letter at a time, they construct an unconventional-looking honeycomb keyboard that will let them touch-type words by either touching or sliding over the cells. As they work through the five sections of the app, progress is automatically saved and marked on the table of contents, and more of the keyboard comes together, until the final timed typing challenge, where all the words come together. The only way to reset the progress is to visit the age-gated parent's menu from the first screen (touch an icon and solve a math problem, then select "reset"). This makes this app less usable in a classroom or library setting, where multiple children might share the same device, although it is possible to use the table of contents to jump directly to the story. It will also be possible to get the books in the iBookstore, and activities (crafts, card games, curriculum activities) will support the curriculum off-screen. The five app sections ask you to trace letters, type words, and capture animated letters to return them to their home. In addition, there are stories to read that put the words in context, and a timed "Type to Win" game where you race yourself to see how many three letter words you can find. The music gets repetitious, and we discovered a few rough edges including one screen that froze -- an error we could not replicate. Testers also noted "not much variety in the reading selections", which are illustrated by clear narration and excellent watercolor illustrations that "could've stepped out of a 1960's Dick and Jane reading book." The narrative isn't as good as you might expect when the topic is about rhyming words that rhyme with "hat." Here's a sample: "And what did the cat do? Of course the cat sat. And where did the cat sit? On the man on the mat." Each page has illustrations that are hardwired to the text to help build meaning. So if you touch the word "van" you see a van drive up; and it fits in the context of the story. This app was designed by Ann McCormick, who shaped the design of the original Reader Rabbit series (1982 by Leslie Grimm) and, once upon a time, started The Learning Company. If you remember these software programs, you'll recognized the approach used in this app -- high rates of success, plenty of repetition, and building meaning into the practice. The bottom line: for home use, with one child, this app creates a safe, happy place where failure is not an option, and where it is possible to decode the magic of letters.