Developer: Early Ascent LLC
Reading Raven is phonics-based engaging learn-to-read app that provides step-by-step reading lessons designed to help young children build a solid foundation for reading. The developer suggests this app from age 3 to 7 years, but I feel that 3 years is a little young and it is more suited for children from 4 ½ – 5 years.
There are five lessons included in the app, each working on a group of five letters (individual letters, plus words that start with those letters). All letters except Q and X are covered. The /th/ sound is also included.
- Letter Recognition: A letter falls, and the child has to match it to the same letter below. As it falls they hear the letter sound, once they correctly match it they hear the letter name, sound and a word beginning with that letter
- Tracing letters & words: The app shows the letter outline and the correct letter formation and the child then traces the letter/word. The app allows them to go outside the lines, but they do need to touch dots at the start and end of each stroke. When they finish, the outline disappears and you see how they wrote the letter.
- Letter Sounds: The child hears the sound of a letter and identify which letter (of several) makes that sound
- Initial Sounds: this is similar to the letter matching, but this time the child has to match the falling letter to a picture of a word that starts with that letter.
- Word Matching: A word falls and the child has to match it to the same word below.
- Identifying words: The child hears a word and must pick the written word (of several) that matches it.
- Building words: The child has to put the letters together in the right order to make a word.
- Reading words/sentences: The child practices reading short words, then moves on to short and then longer sentences. As the child reads they move their finger along a bar under the words and their voice is recorded and played back to them.
- Identifying Word Groups: The child has to recognize words that start or end with the same sound and teaches rhyming.
The words are 1-4 letters long and the sentences are 2-8 words long, some sight words and punctuation marks are also introduced. Each lesson has its own theme e.g. it occurs underwater or in the snow or in outer space.
The child earns stickers as a reward for doing the activities, and uses these to decorate Reading Raven’s tree house. The stickers illustrate the words the child has learned and the stickers can be moved around and resized.
App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score /20
(Adapted from www.speechgadget.com)
GENERAL INFORMATION & OPERATION
|Content is appropriate
|No in app purchases required for use
|Students can launch and navigate in the app independently
|App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps
|App can be customized for different users
|App can be used for single user or groups
|Content/data can easily be exported
|User data is saved from session to session
|Design graphics/sounds are appealing
|App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user
|App is designed to target speech/language skills
|App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness
|App can be adapted to target speech/language skills
|App encourages critical thinking and higher level language
|App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist
|Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance
|Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment
|App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs
|App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups
Total Points: 16/20 Points
5 Stars 17 – 20 points
4 Stars 13 – 16 points
3 Stars 9 – 12 points
2 Stars 5 – 8 points
1 Star 1 – 4 points
Most things about this app are great and it is difficult to single out any one feature. Some special features that I like include:
- On any activity, you can have the full voice instructions repeated by tapping the listen icon.
- You can skip ahead or replay any activity by swiping forward or backward on the Reading Raven character.
- The app dynamically adapts to the user’s motor skills. If the child is going slower, then the screen adapts to the child’s pace.
You also have the option to work in normal (Abc), uppercase (ABC) or lowercase (abc), and to choose which of four font styles to use. The settings are child-proofed – you have to answer maths questions to access them.
Areas for Improvement
- From a South African Perspective, the letter /Z/ is pronounced “zee” and the /R/ is pronounced as /err/ so a U.K. voice over would be nice (although I think that our kids are well tuned into the American accent.
- The app cannot be customized for different users and I couldn’t find a way to “erase” all the previously earned stickers and start over in order to get around the lack of customization.
- Although the app is easy to navigate independently, there are no progress reports for parents to check and see how the child is doing and therefore the app is probably better used with parent supervision.
- I would have loved to have given this app a five star rating, but for use as a therapist the inability to customize it for different users, use it in a group and export data was a limiting factor.
For individual use this is a 5 Star App!
Get it while it’s on sale at $1.99