By: Melinda Lancaster
Good day to all.
As I have been thinking about what to write about in my first real blog post the “Sound of Music” came to mind and the song “Do, Re, Mi” and the lyrics, “start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A,B,C…..” so there you go! A,B,C it is!
Of course, reading is the number one way to get kids interested in reading. Dr. Seuss is my all-time favorite for this. The crazy antics of his characters and the ridiculous situations are appealing to children and rhyme is
one of the best ways for young children to hear words and how they sound alike, but mean different things. Dr. Seuss’ ABC book is a classic. I have read that so many times to Katelin that I have it memorized and use it while we talk about the ABC’s in almost every context. (Mind you she is 20, so having it memorized is not as weird as it sounds!)
So, the next few blog posts will be about the ABC’s, not so much how to teach them (because I can only speak for what works for Katelin and I) but some of the aids, manipulatives and apps we use to facilitate the learning of the ABC’s.
One of the more prominent tools that I use for Katelin is her iPad. The “Yes and No” app is one of the few ways she can communicate with the general population, but we use it mainly for education. So, today I am going to compare two Apps-both “Magnetic ABCs”
I downloaded tons of “lite” versions of apps and the following two were the best that suited our needs. I found many of the other selections to be so limited or annoying, with too much going on, music, animation etc. I find
that for Katelin, when teaching the basics, basic apps are better.
The first is ABC-Magnetic Alphabet by Dot Next.
This app has many good things going for it, but the lite version is totally useless as it only offers the capital letters. There are two other versions, one which I purchased (I think is one $1.99, but in app-purchases are
available) and a new one for $8.99. If the $8.99 had been offered when I first purchased I would have gotten that, it comes will all the in-app purchases and future updates/additions.
What I really like about the version I have (with the in-app purchases) is the variety. Let me show you what I
This app comes with Capital and small letters , numbers and a variety of things that can be used to make
scenes or to spell out. It also offers a variety of backgrounds for the kids to make comprehensive scenes, there’s a Halloween background and Halloween magnets, a winter background and Christmas magnets, a spring background and Easter magnets. The biggest plus to me though is the small letters.
This app also comes with all sorts of collections including underwater, vehicles, construction, outer space (as in-app purchases).
It has a lot of potential. The biggest downside for our situation is that it doesn’t talk, but this may not matter to most of you. However, for Katelin, who needs reinforcement at every level, having at least the letters “say” out their name would be very helpful, especially on the rare occasion she makes her own choice.
For that we use Abby’s Magnetic Toys by 22learn LLC. This has a Lite (free) version that may fit your needs but it only allows you so many items on the screen at one time and there will be popups asking if you want the full version. What I LOVE about this app is that every letter and every object, when placed on the screen, speaks its name.
Here’s an example
We use this app in a lot of ways. Katelin can pick an object then I’ll switch to the letters option and spell it out, or I will spell out a word say, “CAT” then put up the picture of the cat. Another way it can be used is initial sounds. I will put the letter “B” on the screen and then go through the selections and put “b” words on the
screen and she will hear the word and the initial sound being repeated. It also offers “blocks” and some background patterns to place the blocks on, but instead of saying the shape it says the color of the block
This app does have a couple of downsides. First and foremost it does not have small letters; it doesn’t even
offer them as an in-app purchase. Secondly, it doesn’t repeat the sound after it’s been placed on the board. Thirdly, the selection of items is limited, but it does offer contextual backgrounds that the other app doesn’t, mainly inside homes, however the “children” are not very ethnically diverse.
Between these two apps, I am able to teach Katelin a LOT, not only her ABC’s, but how to spell, teach contextual scenes that make sense, ie: Santa’s not in the Halloween scene and give her the ability to tell me, through eye gaze or pointing what she wants to add into a scene, or even, very rarely, what letter things start with!
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