Bottom Line: Provides ample opportunities to learn all 220 Dolch words through a series of six games and activities, but lacks enough differentiation in skill levels to make it worthwhile for kids beyond first grade.
Action Sight Word Games & Flash Cards for Reading Success by 22Learn is a fun introduction to Dolch sight words. No reading ability is necessary to play as sight words are memorized rather than decoded. The app includes six different word lists comprised of pre-primer through third grade Dolch Sight words, plus an additional list of common nouns. The interface is simple and easy to navigate and overall the look is appealing.
The settings menu allows a parent or teacher to individually deselect one or more words from each of the lists. This option is useful as words are most often introduced 10 at a time in school. Options to silence music and sound effects are accessible here and speed of play can be set to one of three settings. Even with effects off, the app is very noisy as the dog continued to bark and howl. The settings menu also includes a choice of uppercase, lowercase or mixed keyboards. Mixed resulted in the first letter of every spelling word being capitalized which wasn't what I expected. A case-sensitive designation would be a better option.
Play begins with creating a profile. The app stores five player profiles at a time and allows an additional child to play as a guest. Players enter a name and choose a boy, girl or monster avatar. The avatars have mix and match body parts, so a monster can have a Frankenstein head and a mummy body. The girls and boys have regular clothing as well as some more exotic garb from which to choose. Kids will enjoy this part and be that much more interested in the learning games.
Each of the word lists can be selected for play in each of six different games called Bingo, Flash Cards, Memory, Spelling, Gears and the Word Machine. The games have a mixture of themes from industrial machines and gears to space aliens. Sounds effects, including grinding machinery and a barking dog, go off fairly often. Words are repeated frequently so children can associate the written word with how it sounds.
Players get lots of positive verbal feedback as they answer. Motivators like shooting stars and big congratulatory banners appear at the end of a successful round. Rounds are short, so keeping a youngster’s attention shouldn’t be too difficult. Each game is scored, although the app only records high scores. The trophy page shows the scores and player in the gold, silver and bronze positions.
Word Machine: A robot with a horn and exhaust pipe instead of arms, and a siren on his head, speaks a word. The player has to find the word from one of three manhole lids that lift up. The decoy words are others from the Dolch lists rather than words with the same beginning letter or same number of letters. Play automatically advances to the next level which has five lids from which to find the target word.
Gears: The user presses one of eight ratchets and must make a pair by sliding the corresponding gear into the gear box. This game is identical in function to Word Machine.
Flash Cards: The words are read off as the cards are scrolled through. Other than turning off device sound, the cards can't be used to test students on reading the words independently.
Spelling: Players see the word then have to arrange the letters given to spell the word. Only the letters needed are shown, and the app doesn't accept a misspelling although the score will reflect an incorrect attempt.
Memory: A row of five words is briefly revealed, then users press a button to hear the word and then have to select the correct match from memory.
Bingo: It’s the most challenging game since players have to locate the called word from a field of 16. How much fun is playing bingo by oneself though?
The level of hints and prompts make this app appropriate for those just starting to read. Although Dolch lists go up to Grade 3, most kids know these words by first grade and the games here would be far too easy for kids seven and older. If decoy words, independent spelling and perhaps short fill-in-the-blank sentences were used, the app would greatly expand its target audience and insure true competence in the skill.
My ASD son, Dean has been working on sight words for about 5 years now. Although he has not officially mastered sight words for purposes of his IEP, he was able to successfully play the games in this app.
A free trial with two games unlocked, on the pre-school only list, is available.
If you would like to purchase Action Sight Word Games & Flash Cards for Reading Success ($1.99 iPad/iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using the following link:
Jill Goodman wonders which depraved English monarch decided been should be Ben instead of bean. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.