Bottom Line: It probably won’t make your baby smarter or entertain your toddler for very long. But as a flash card app, it’s pretty good.
Baby Flash Cards by Prodigy Kids is an app marketed as one that makes your baby or toddler smarter. According to the iTunes App Store description, “Your baby can read...or at least if he or she can't yet. They will be able to soon.” (They seemingly won’t learn much about sentence structure, though.)
I am opposed to any marketing that claims to create genius whether it is a DVD series, paper flashcards, or an app. It also does not appear there is any evidence that this app will help your baby or toddler read, at least none I could find on their website.
This review, then, is based just on the app as a flash card app, not on any claims it makes. The free version of Baby Flash Cards comes with four decks of cards: Letters, On the Farm, Colors, and Numbers. There is one additional set (Things that Go) that can be downloaded for free.
An in-app purchase of $1.99 gets 12 additional decks, for over 400 cards in total; decks can also be purchased individually for $0.99. Nearly all of the decks present various nouns, with the exception of concepts and colors.
There are two ways to use the app: flash cards and quiz. Each available deck can be individually turned on or off before starting. In the flash card game, each card is presented individually and named. Other options are available from the home screen and include: turning off the background music; ordering cards by alphabetical order, least seen, or random; and rewards. These options can be set individually for up to four players.
In the quiz format, four cards are presented with a prompt to find a named card. The four choices are all from the same deck, regardless of the decks selected. After selecting the correct picture, the stimulus sentence is repeated: “Brilliant! You found the tiger.” If the child guesses incorrectly, the wrong choice is named and the prompt repeated.
This is a helpful feature, so that the child can learn from mistakes. It would be even better if after a correct choice, the sentence presented gave more information about the selection. Sentences such as “Awesome! The bear lives in the forest,” or “Yay! The student sits at the desk,” would increase the educational value of this app.
There is a reward feature in the quiz section. After ten or more correct quiz answers (the amount can be set in options), a puppy play screen appears. The child can give the puppy treats or tap for several different actions such as blowing kisses, running around the tree, or giggling. There are multiple reward screens. Once I played with my puppy by a tree and gave him a strawberry and honey. The next time, he was on the playground and he ate honey and a bone.
While this app will be unlikely to teach your child to read, the words and phrases are presented in text below the pictures. This does encourage literacy, along with the presented audio. Playing the app with an adult who points out the words will do even more to encourage pre-literacy skills. Parents can also teach letter sounds along with the letter names in the alphabet cards, as the app does not do so. Even better, use flash card mode to tell a sequential story, adding to the story with each new card.
There were a few pictures that seemed hard to recognize. The animals in particular were cartoon-like in features, and they all had very similar eyes and faces. The differences between the squirrel and the rabbit were difficult to see.
In addition, the scale is different on each card, making it difficult to judge relative size. The bear takes up the whole card, which is appropriate, since a bear is big. However, the elephant is pictured smaller, with significant white space. The mouse and ant take up more room on the card than does the elephant.
In flash card mode, the cards advance by tapping the screen. If the taps are rapid, each card isn’t named, which is a great feature—with rapid taps the naming seldom keeps up with the visual presentation leading to confusion.
Americans should also take note—several of the words are not American English. For example, the baby crib is a cot, a shallow bowl is labeled as a basin, and a dresser is called drawers. However, overall most cards should be familiar vocabulary.
I found this app to be very useful for therapy. It could be used to measure vocabulary in categories including animals, foods, nature, clothing, body, toys, and concepts. It won’t be fun as a reward for any of my students. However, this app provides many vocabulary cards with helpful options. The addition of verbs and more descriptive vocabulary would make it even better.
Prodigy Kids is an iPhone app, leading to pixelated graphics in the settings and game choice screens on the iPad x2. However, the flash cards themselves are clear and bright. Parents should also take note—there are external links (including social media) in the “about and share” section, which can be accessed from the home page, the name selection page, and from the instructions page.
Don’t buy this app to teach a baby or toddler to read. However, for parents, therapists, or teachers looking for a flashcard app, Baby Flash Cards provides multiple settings, individual child/student tracking, and many cards, making it definitely worth a look.
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Heather Hetler has three kids (10, 8, and 5) and is the Speech-Language Pathologist at a K-4 school. She hopes to teach all of them that mice are smaller than elephants.