Smart Apps For Android: REVIEW: Starfall It's Fun To Read (best educational Android kids apps)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

REVIEW: Starfall It's Fun To Read (best educational Android kids apps)





Bottom Line: Starfall It's Fun To Read teaches literacy through discovery, by introducing preschoolers to great works of art, famous composers, poets and more. Particularly useful for classroom tablets because it contains no ads, in-app purchases or external links.

Price: $1.99                            Size: 29.9MB

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Available on Amazon Appstore          Get it on Google Play

App explained: There are six sections to this app that focus on different themes. Art Gallery covers work by van Gogh, Seurat and Gaugin and deals with compound words, word families and diphthongs. Magic deals with creativity, labeling, rhyming and memory. Music covers work by Beethoven, Chopin, Joplin, Mozart, Offenbach and Tchaikovsky and deals with ordinals, word families and morphemes. Poetry covers work by Josefowitz, Stevenson and Rosetti and deals with comprehension and imagination. Tongue Twisters deals with word families and alliteration. Bird Riddles deals with syllables.

Throughout Starfall It's Fun To Read, the text is highlighted and can also be tapped to hear it narrated. Children are given the opportunity to create words by dragging beginning sounds onto word family endings such as "ight" or "ay". They can also identify speech sounds in different words by tapping on the grapheme. Children are engaged in more than literacy activities, however, with opportunities to study artwork, listen to music and learn about birds for example.

Pros/Cons: You can rely on Starfall.com to produce apps of high quality, and with content that is going to be a great supplement to educational programs. There are no difficulty levels, skill progression or progress tracking in Starfall It's Fun To Read and no option to set up individual profiles. It is simply a discovery tool for children to learn literacy through other subjects. This strategy is often used with students who have English as a Second Language (ESL) and I can see the potential also for students with special needs.

There is a lot of content in the app, however, it seems like each section is merely a taste of what it could be, which gives an unfinished feel about it. Information provided on the artists is interesting and I would like to see that section, for example, be more developed to include more information and more artists, which in turn would provide more practice of the literacy concepts involved. Students are asked questions such as "What is YOUR shadow like?" or "Have you ever seen the wind?" as a way of engaging children and checking comprehension. These could be used as a launchpad into a class discussion which could then lead onto a writing or art activity.

Suggestions for updates: As I mentioned, I would like to see each section developed further. This app could even grow and be split into two or more apps with more information and more practice examples. It would be great to see a section devoted to experimenting by children, for example: using the word family "ay" and then providing affixes that will produce both real and nonsense words with a picture to reward creation of real words.

Starfall It's Fun To Read could include more assessable activities to provide better feedback on students' interaction with the app. Cloze tests for the poetry and voice recognition for the tongue twisters would be wonderful additions for future updates. Individual profiles could give students a sense of ownership and pride in their work as well as providing teachers with individual records for students. Finally, an option to set the level of difficulty would be very useful for a class of preschoolers who tend to have a wide range of ability.

Summary: Literacy through music or art is a great concept that Starfall could develop further in this app. Recommended for its great educational content, and I would suggest students use this app in the presence of a teacher or parent. I will be using this app with my daughter in the coming term.

Device/s used:
Phone - Samsung Galaxy S4 (Android 4.3)
Tablet - Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1" (Android 4.2.2)

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Cas and her daughter like wordplay and telling each other jokes.





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