Bottom Line: The graphics and sound are terrific, but the jumbled games don’t really do much to help a child gain a deep understanding of the alphabet and there are some issues that need to be addressed.
Alphabet Jumbled is an app by Little Learning Tots designed to familiarize your child with the ABCs. To do this, the child can choose from five options:
1) Know Your ABC: (it should be called Know Your ABCs.) Here, the child will see the complete alphabet and hear each letter in order as the letter pops up in a slightly 3D fashion. As an alternative to hearing the letters read automatically, the child can touch any letter and hear its name. It should be noted that if the child touches a letter while the alphabet is being read, there is no way to get back to the automatic read through, short of going back to the home screen and reselecting.
There is also a Phonics option the child can use. By pressing the Phonics bubble at the top of the screen, the alphabet will be heard in sounds, instead of the letter names. This could be a really great option, but I have some serious issues with the way it is done here:
- Some of the sounds are read with an “uh” at the end of the sound. For example, the letter “f” makes the “ffffff” sound. The child, however, will hear, “ffff-uh.” The letter “l” is another example. It should be “llll” yet is read as “lllll-uh.” These sounds are NOT good examples of true phonics and can actually lead to issues with reading.
- The vowel sounds are inconsistent. Young children should be familiar with the long and short vowel sounds. The vowels in the phonics mode, however, are mixed, and some aren’t correct. “A,” “e,” and “i” are read with the short vowel sound. “O” and “u” are read with the long vowel sound. ALL of the vowels should be read in one way or the other, and there should be an option to hear both.
- ABC Flash Card – (This should be named ABC Flash Cards.) This section is pretty much the traditional flashcards for the alphabet. The very first one has a picture of an apple and the letter A. The child will hear the narrator say, “A for apple” and then they can press the arrow to continue through the alphabet. Nothing too exciting about this section, although I have to say that the picture on “V for van” is definitely a bit creepy and I can’t figure out why they decided to go with “Y for yacht.” Not “yarn” or “yo-yo”?
2) Easy Jumble: Five letters are given, in mixed order. Below, the child will see the dotted outlines of the letters in order. Their job is to drag the letters to the proper outline. As they touch a letter, its name is spoken. If a letter is dragged to the wrong outline, it simply gets placed back at the top for the child to try again.
3) Jumble A-Z: The entire alphabet is displayed with the letters out of order, and the child needs to order the letters correctly. There is a timer that counts up, so the child can try to beat his/her best time. I learned that when moving the letters in this game, if the child tries to put the letter directly on top of the one that is in its place, that will not work. Instead, they must put the letter slightly before the place where it needs to go. A small thing, but one that can get frustrating.
3) Jumble Challenge: Five letters are pinned on a line above water. A fish/alien/some-sort-of-water-creature is swimming in the water and jumping up to grab letters. The child’s job is to put the letters in order before the timer runs out. If the fish/alien/some-sort-of-water-creature grabs a letter as the child is moving it, 10 seconds are taken off from the timer. It should be noted that if time runs out, the words “Times Up!” appear on the screen and there should be an apostrophe to make the contraction for “Time is” as in, “Time’s Up!” This needs to be corrected.
The only settings in this app are included in each game. You can press the Aa icon anywhere in the game to change the letters from upper case to lowercase or vice versa. You can also change the letters from a solid yellow color to multi-colored and multi-patterned bubble letters.I'm not a big fan of the latter and am glad that the solid colored letters are now an option, added in a recent update by Little Learning Tots.
If you’re looking for a simple app with automated flashcards and alphabet readings, Alphabet Jumbled is worth a look. It looks good and sounds good. As far as the games go, however, I am not sure how useful they are for young children who are trying to become familiar with the alphabet. Simply mixing letters up and asking the child to put them in order does not do a lot for their understanding of the alphabet. I would rather see something like a matching game to go along with the flashcards. For example, the child would see a flashcard with “A is for____” and then have to choose between a picture of an apple, a van, or a yacht.
Another great game would be a multiple choice phonics game. The child would hear the sound, such as “fffff” and choose the correct letter from three choices. These types of games would be more beneficial in helping a child begin to understand the alphabet and its many functions in our spoken and written language.
If you would like to purchase Alphabet Jumbled ($1.99, iPad/iPhone) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link:
This review was completed by Allison Kelly, who is starting her 14th year as a teacher. Little Tot Learning is a an advertiser at smartappsforkids.com