Review Crew: LiteracySoft

We love our iPad and we loved reviewing a new reading app from LiteracySoft!
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What is it?
LiteracySoft is a company that creates beginning reading programs.  We reviewed their iPad app Phonics and Reading with McGuffey.

Phonics and Reading with McGuffey contains 52 learn to read lessons, using the McGuffey Readers to teach phonics.  The app teaches 44 letter sounds and phonograms and contains over 400 practice vocabulary words.

The app is for any student who is learning to read.  It can be used on an iPad or iPhone and purchased for $19.99.

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How did we use this product?
The program allows for up to 10 users so I set up a separate user for Curly, Tiger, and Bee.  I started Curly in the middle part of the program since she is already reading.  Curly worked through her lessons just for fun.  She is already reading at a level past the program but she enjoyed the review.

Tiger and Bee both began at the beginning of the program.  Tiger was often able to complete an entire lesson in one sitting.  It took Bee more than one sitting to complete each lesson.

This app was something the kids used on their own without my help.  They worked on phonics skills while I rotated doing school with them.  It was a great way to keep them entertained!

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How is each lesson structured?
Each lesson begins by introducing a letter sound or sounds.

The next screen introduces several words that will be used throughout the lesson.  The child can click on each word to hear them repeated.

Next, letters or letter teams are shown and the student is to click on the correct sound he hears.  Each time the correct letter is chosen, a lightbulb at the top of the screen starts to light up.  The goal is to light all of the bulbs across the top of the screen.

The next screen was the favorite of Tiger and Bee.  It’s the sound blender.  The child can choose a combination of letters to put in the bottom part of the screen.  Vowels are one color (to be placed in the middle of the word) and consonants are another color (to be placed at the beginning and ending of a word).  The app then reads the word that the child created.

The next part of the lesson is the reading portion.  Sentences are on the screen for the student to read.  There is a box beneath each word for the student to click to have the word read to him.

Next is the quiz.  The student has to choose the correct letter for each sound.

After the quiz is the spelling portion.  A truck drives on screen with boxes on the bed.  The child must move the correct letters from the top of the screen onto the boxes to spell each word.

The last screen of each lesson shows a train engine.  Three different words are at the top of the screen and the child must choose the correct word as it is said.  Each time the correct word is chosen, the train starts moving.  The faster the correct word is chosen, the faster the train engine moves.

What didn’t we like?
I didn’t have any complaints from my crew!

When we first began using the program, I had to show Tiger and Bee how to continue to the next part of each lesson by clicking on the down arrow.  Not every screen prompts you when it’s time to move to the next screen.  I wish it had better direction on when to move forward.  Sometimes my kids would sit watching the screen, unsure if it was time to move to the next part.

You can continue through screens without fully completing a previous screen’s activity.  This could be a problem for a student who was working without supervision. 

What did we like?
The app provides great instructions so that my kids could work on their own.  They would be instructed when to click on words and what to do on each screen.

I appreciated the strong emphasis on phonics and that the program teaches phonics in a systematic way.

The pace of the program worked well for my young crew.  They weren’t frustrated with the activities and they loved that the program would read the sentences to them if they got stuck.

The activities are fairly predictable which was a plus because my kids knew how to do each one after a few lessons.  The predictability and routine of the lessons was something my kids enjoyed.

What did we think overall?
I was really pleased with this app.  My kids received some excellent phonics instruction and were able to work through the lessons with minimal help from me.  It was the perfect tool for when I was busy with another child.  We’re going to keep working through the program as a supplement to our regular reading and phonics instruction.

Read the Crew’s thoughts regarding LiteracySoft on the Crew blog!

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