Smart Apps For Android: Featured App — Preschoolers ABC Playground (formerly Playground 3: ABC Edition) (best Android apps for kids)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Featured App — Preschoolers ABC Playground (formerly Playground 3: ABC Edition) (best Android apps for kids)

This is the final app in the series of three by Jan Essig that we are featuring. This app, unlike the other two, focuses on language skills, specifically alphabet letter names and sounds. Jan seems to have a knack of jamming a lot of activities into one app, and it would take your child quite some time to complete all of them. Actually, this app would be especially good for children with intellectual disability because there is so much repetition and reinforcement for each letter. I would be surprised if any child playing this game did not come away with a strong phonics base — a foundational reading skill. Emilie over at Smart Apps For Kids reviewed Playground 3 recently and gave it four stars.

External links go to email the developer, the developer webpage, Facebook and Twitter and are all hidden in the parent area.


Available on Amazon Appstore

  FREE Lite Version                    $4.15 now $1.99 Full Version
Get it on Google Play          Get it on Google Play

Flashcards - This activity includes up to 26 flashcards, each covering a single letter of the alphabet. I say "up to" because if Italian is chosen, then there will be fewer flashcards. Not only does this activity introduce the sound of the letter, but also reinforces learning with a visual of an animal beginning with that sound. Letter sound correspondence is foundational to being a successful reader.

Practice - provides handwriting practice of each of the letters. There are five fonts to choose from, and the option to have the letters presented by their names or by their sounds. Research has shown that children remember new concepts better by doing, so tracing the letters will help them learn the names and sounds of the letters. Good thinking, Jan!

Write - provides a page upon which to write, either with lines or completely blank. There is also the option to have a tray of letters to drag onto the page, to use as a tracing guide if that extra support is needed. A variety of six "inks" is provided and the student can take a photo of his work to store in the tablet's gallery. One of the main criticisms I hear about using tablets in foundational classes is that children still need to learn to write. Well, here's an opportunity to learn writing on the tablet! Perfect.

Alphabet - presents the alphabet in three different ways: Overall View, Large & Small and Order. Overall view lays the whole alphabet out on one page, either as capitals only or as capital with lower case. Again, there are five fonts to choose from and the option of hearing either the name or the sound of the letter when it is tapped. It must have been a challenge to come up with an animal for every letter of the alphabet and so mythical creatures are included. Brilliantly illustrated, this alphabet is sure to stick in any child's mind!

Large &  Small view presents 21 out-of-order letters of either upper case or lower case with the corresponding letters of the opposite case jumbled in the tray below. The student must match the letters, which should be a fairly easy task, even for letters like Q/q that don't look similar because the process of elimination can be employed. This is a useful practice activity to consolidate earlier learning.

Order presents the whole alphabet as a single scrolling line of animals that need their first letters matched from the jumbled tray of letters below. Ordering the alphabet is another extremely useful reading skill, particularly when it comes to dictionary work.

Pairs - has three activities to match up pairs of letters by playing the memory game. Beginning with three pairs and increasing to 15 pairs, the student is required to match capitals with capitals, capitals with animals or capitals with lower case. The memory game is definitely a fall-back game used by many teachers for various learning outcomes.

Words - is the final activity of this app and requires the student to place given letters in order to form an animal word. Three difficulty levels cover a wide range of abilities as children try to unjumble the animal names. One particular word I was stuck on, only to eventually discover a bird I had never heard of: the Quetzal. The activity allowed me to achieve success, despite my lack of knowledge of this particular bird, which is reassuring for children who either do not know the names of all the animals presented or even those who just cannot spell the animal names.

Finally, I must mention the Yeti game. Throughout the different activities, stars are awarded for successful completion of tasks. An apple is awarded for every three stars earned, and the apples are used to play the Yeti game. The Yeti game is not a language-based game, but more of a reaction type of arcade game, added to the app for the pure fun of it. Kids love playing these kind of games, and as well as being motivational to the kids to spend time on the different activities to earn apples, the Yeti game is a nice stress free reward for all of the child's hard work.

Throughout the app, there are many options to customize, including a range of fonts, a large selection of different languages, options on how letters are presented visually and audibly. Like Jan Essig's other apps, this one also has NO in-app purchases, NO ads and all external links are found in the parent screen which is difficult for young children to access. One of my favorite features is the built-in timer, which allows parents to set a limit (from five minutes up to two hours and fifty-five minutes) on how long children play. There is a whole lot of learning to be had with this well-thought-out app and the once-off price means you have everything to go straight up.

Smart Apps For Android was paid a fee for this sponsored post.



When my daughter was learning her letters, I thought long and hard about the best way to teach her the alphabet. The result is this collection of six exercises:
• Flashcards – introduces individual capital letters and their sounds, along with animals for kids to associate with each sound. Users can trace the letters, and can hear each letter name by touching it.
• Practice – lets user practice with uppercase letters while also introducing lowercase letters. Users can practice tracing letters in five different fonts.
• Write – a drawing board for users to practice their letters freehand in six colors. Users can also drag letters around on the electronic equivalent of a magnetic board. The resulting artwork or message can be photographed and saved to your iPad’s camera roll.
• Word Scramble – users unscramble the letters to spell the names of more than 65 animals.
• Matching – match capital letters to their lowercase partners, and match letters with their corresponding animals. Teaches correct alphabet sequence as well as connection between capital and lowercase letters.
• Pairs – memory matching card game where users match up uppercase/uppercase pairs, uppercase/lowercase pairs, or letter/animal pairs.

Other features:
• No ads or in-app purchases.
• This app is multilingual (English, German, Italian, Spanish, French and Swedish). The languages can be changed in nearly every activity, allowing your child to learn that "A" is for ALLIGATOR in English, AFFE in German, or ABEILLE in French.
• Allows the user to work with both initial sounds and letter names.
• User can easily switch from print to handwriting font, and from upper to lower case.
• Includes a reward system game kids will love
• Settings and external links are protected in a “parents only” area to prevent children from accidentally ending up on Facebook, in email, or in other internet locations you don’t want them to go.
• Includes a timer that allows parents to limit playing time.
• The sound can be switched on and off at any time.

I hope that this ABC app interests you and provides your child with a great start in the world of letters.

Dear parents, 

PLEASE contact me for any help, concerns or suggestions to improve this App.
Don´t hesitate to contact me via mail: :)
A short review would be wonderful
Best regards and have fun playing

Jan Essig

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