Montessori Letter Sounds is a great iPad app by developer Les Trois Elles Interactive. This app helps young children gain knowledge of the alphabet, letter sounds, blends, and making words. Based on the Montessori method, this app does a nice job of creating an engaging phonics lesson. Fun Educational Apps Top Pick
This app is an in-depth app with a lot to offer. It consists of four steps where kids can both practice and then play using letter skills. Each game has three levels that get progressively harder. The first two games are automatically unlocked at the start of the game. I Spy offers a unique chance for kids to build vocabulary by recording themselves stating the name of picture cards. They can play back their recording to hear themselves saying the word. After practicing, play the I Spy game by identifying the picture card that matches the "I Spy something beginning with the sound ___" prompt.
The second game, Letter Sounds, is a little bit harder. First, practice the letter sounds by scrolling through the alphabet and listening to letters sounds and tracing each of the lowercase letters. When ready to play, head over to the game and touch the letter that makes the sound given. Earn marbles for correct answers and try to unlock the next game.
Mix & Match is the third game and can be unlocked after showing mastery of the first two games. Practice first by scrolling through the alphabet and hearing words that all have that letter sound. The letter sound may be at the beginning, middle, or end of the word. After working your way through the alphabet, play the game by matching the letter sound to the correct picture.
After mastering the third game, unlock Sound It Out. This is the only game without a practice session first. Given a picture card, choose the letter sounds from the alphabet to spell the word. If you get stuck, tap the chalk for help and the correct spelling comes up.
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This app is extensive, with a lot of different ways to work with phonics and early literacy skills. I like that the first three games have a completely separate practice session, that in its own right, is a game. The practice sessions tie beautifully to the games. I also really liked that each game had a three star ranking. As a player shows proficiency at a particular skill, the next star opens and the game gets progressively harder. The skills built on in this game are the basis of good literacy education. This would be a great app for a beginning or pre-reader.
In addition to the great games and practice activities, the app also offers a useful toolbox. Review and learn letters sounds by using the phonetic alphabet. Use the notebook pages to practice tracing letters and writing letters independently. Trace letters in a sandbox without a guide to practice printing. There is also an image gallery with all of the picture cards where players can review the names of all of the items in the app. I would definitely visit the image gallery. While I understand the need to build children's vocabulary, some of the images are words that I've never heard of. Visit the image gallery to familiarize yourself with the wapiti and xerus.
Overall, this app has a ton to offer and joining our Top Pick list! If you've got an early reader at home, or you teach young children, this is a great app to add to your collection. The phonics lessons are essential skills provided in an engaging way. With so many different ways to work with letters and sounds, your child will be sure to get a healthy dose of instruction in a great way.
App Update 23 Jan. 2013:
This Award Winning Montessori Letter Sounds is now available in an iPhone only version. Only $1.99 for this very comprehensive phonics app should mean every parent should have it on their iPhone!
Montessori Letter Sounds is available for download via the iTunes App Store: iPad
Universal App iPhone and iPod Touch
Also available in French: Montessori Letter Sounds HD Learn French
This app was reviewed by Sarah Emerling, a mom, a special education teacher, and a technology coach. She is a self proclaimed nerd with a passion for incorporating technology into education.