Last night Charlie, Leo and I looked at Funimal Phonics together for around 40 minutes before story time. It has great reviews and seemed to have charted highly on the App Store. As you can see from the video below letters are pronounced in the style of synthetic phonics using either an US or UK accent. Each letter has an accompanying animal who animates when tickled!
I was not expecting to like this app as I prefer creative and unusual stuff, but Charlie liked it and was keen to look for letters that he knew like C and r. He and Leo enjoyed exploring the letters and pictures together for some time and it generated a good deal of focussed talk. It was a struggle to get them off the app as they were clearly enjoying saying the sounds and getting the animals to move.
Though they did talk about the letter sounds in the app, there were a lot of questions around some of the animals too. Neither boy had heard of a “Yak” or an “Umbrella Bird” and I think we were stretching it a bit with X Ray Fish and even Flamingo. It would be great if School of Happy could bring out a second app with some more well-known objects in the future. I am a dyed in the wool Jolly Phonics man and what I liked about that system was not only the mix of action, image and sounds, but the images were mostly from the environment of a child, for example ambulances, growling dogs, cracking eggs, buzzy bees and ants on your arms. I could be wrong though, perhaps given time these unusual creatures in the funanimal phonics app will stay with Charlie and help him remember the sounds.
On the whole this app is well worth £1.49 for home or Ipads in early years use. I am sure teachers I work with would welcome a further engaging interactive tool to use with their groups. I would like it even more if the app went on to include blends such as Ch and Sh too.
- Jolly Phonics (misslsroom.wordpress.com)