Popular preschool app developer Frugoton has created a new letter app, Frugoton City Letters - Education and Fun for Kids. The app, meant to reinforce letter concepts, has a few free letters and several sections that can be unlocked via in-app purchase and a free puzzle level for each letter.
The free version of this app allows users to play each of the puzzle games associated with the alphabet and activities for a few letters. The app opens to a sliding menu featuring each of the letters of the alphabet. A through D are unlocked, with the rest available as an in-app purchase.
After tapping on a letter, the letter appears with a picture and word that begins with that letter. Students then get a chance to practice writing the letters. With scaffolded tracing help, students trace each letter three times, with each time having a little less guidance than the time before. Students must trace correctly to move on. The picture and word are shown again and then the app moves you to the next letter.
The puzzle letter is also available in the free version. An easy four piece puzzle appears for each letter of the alphabet randomly. After matching the pieces, the letter is stated, then the sound the letter makes. A picture and word are also shown that begin with that letter. Tap on either to have the word read aloud. But hurry, because then the app quickly moves on to the next letter.
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Focusing on early learning letter skills is an important area to work on for most toddlers and preschoolers. I liked that in the tracing activities, the help was scaffolded. Children had to follow arrows first, then dots, then simply trace the letter. While I appreciate the simplicity of this app, I can't say that it is one of my favorites. The activities quickly became rote and slightly boring. I like to see children using the knowledge, not just tracing or doing puzzles.
Additionally, I found 4 letter sounds that were incorrect. W and V are simply switched and should be easily fixed, but A and O both have sounds that aren't the first sounds taught to young children. Vowels are taught with short sounds first because that is what students will experience as they begin to blend sounds to read words. Both of these letters had different vowel sounds as the given sound.
Overall, there are some good aspects to the free version of City Letters, but I wasn't thrilled by the redundant nature of the activities. I can see my own children becoming easily bored with the activities.
Frugoton City Letters - Education and Fun for Kids is availabe for download via the iTunes App Store - iPad/iPad Mini/iPad Air
RRP - Free to downlaod - Unlock Full version via IAP - $1.99/£1.49/€1.79
At the time of this review, the app had no ads, but did have an in-app purchase to unlock the rest of the levels. Additionally, the guarded parent level had links to social media, the app store, and the Internet - though all of these opened within the app and didn't connect to the outside.
This app was reviewed by Sarah Emerling, a mom, teacher, and technology coach. She is a self proclaimed tech nerd and is passionate about technology in education. You can follow her ed. tech. blog at The iLesson Lady.