The Talking Shapes iPad app ($5.99) is for use on iPads with iOS 6.0 or later and is geared for children in the Pre K-K range. While using the app children learn that spoken words are made up for different sounds, letters stand for the sounds, how to draw the letters, and how to sound out and write three letter words.
The app is an interactive story that talks about two sisters and how they created the alphabet a long time ago so they could remember the stories that they told. In the first app in this series there are 3 books: The Fat Cat, The Silly Hen, and The Dancing Pig. By the end of the third book children should be able to sound out, spell, and read 30 words.
The photo pictured above is what you see when you open the app. You can choose the read to me section and choose one of the three books. Each book is an interactive story that teaches children the sounds and how to draw the letters and form three letters into words.
You can choose to Play a Game with then allows you choose which book you would like to start with. Then you have 3 different games to choose from: Find the Shapes, Find the Letters, and Draw the Letters. Each of these games helps to reinforce the words that the child learned while "reading" each book.
When you choose Draw Letters, is basically the same as choosing the read to me option except it takes out the introduction to the story and takes the child right to the part of the story where they are learning the new sounds. They hear the sounds and write the words.
I have been using the Talking Shapes iPad app mostly with my 4 year old daughter, but my 3 year old daughter likes to play it as well. We have used the app 3-4 times per week for around 15 minutes a day. The children are always excited to see a new app appear on the iPad and as soon as Lily saw it, she couldn't wait to try it out.
She really liked the stories and drawing the letters. She really enjoyed playing the game part of the app. Although the first few times she needed some help with it, she has started to recognize the letters, shapes, and sounds the more often she uses it. I have been very impressed with how much she has learned and can remember after using the app over the last several weeks. When given free time to use the iPad she will often choose to play the Talking Shapes app. Her favorite book is book 3 and she loves it when the goose lays an egg in the games when she gets an answer right. She thinks it is so funny!
We have had one difficulty with using the Talking Shapes app. When they are learning a new sound the app tells them to repeat a word. For example it will say "say inchworm." But when the girls repeat it back the app always says " I didn't understand that." Luckily after it doesn't recognize it the second time the app moves on anyway. I thought it was because Lily especially is naturally soft spoken, but there are times it doesn't recognize me either speaking as loudly and clearly as I can. This is a bit frustrating. Luckily it hasn't frustrated the girls to the point where they don't want to use the app, but they do not like that part. Lily says, "It never understands me!" This is something that definitely needs to be improved.
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