The iPhone/iPad is life-saver for many a parent, including myself. And while I don’t really subscribe to the idea of using them as a be-all entertainment system to be whipped out at every single occasion, I do see the appeal when the diapered darling starts fussing (especially when stuck in a car or plane for hours on end ) and is immediately soothed by an iPhone game or two (or three or more, but who’s counting? ). The ability of the iPhone to lull a kid into a trance-like state of submission is seriously scary. But then I get mommy guilt, wondering if the time spent peering into that tiny screen of the iPhone (haven’t yet succumbed to the iPad) is causing the diapered darling to become myopic or teaching him instant gratification or dumbing down his IQ or all three! So to assuage the guilt, I try to find games that are somewhat educational, so that at least I can comfort myself with the fact that he’s learning something (no, I don’t consider the highly popular game of throwing birds at pigs as being educational despite what the game description says about teaching physics and the like).
So I was quite pleased with myself when I stumbled upon the Build A Word game app. Based on the cartoon WordWorld (a favourite of both the diapered darling and mommy), this game ‘teaches’ spelling. Essentially the child is shown the outline of the letters of the word (an animal) to be spelt out one at a time and he/she needs to pick them out from the various letters floating about and drag it to its placeholder. Then when all the letters are in place, he/she has to smush the letters together and the app will spell out the word and it will transform into the particular animal. So in this little game, you get letter recognition, spelling and even fine motor skills development.
Even if your child cannot quite recognize letters yet and/or does not possess the fine motor skills needed to pick out and drag the letters, not to worry! The letters will eventually move into their placeholders by themselves after a certain amount of time has passed. So it becomes like an animated flashcard: the completed animal makes its appropriate sound (a bark, a ribbit, a moo, etc) accompanied by small movements when you tap on them. This cute feature never fails to tickle the diapered darling from when he was a wee thing till now. A quick shake moves the app on to the next animal.
The only down side to this game is that even after paying for the full version (US$0.99), a mere 10 animals are given (only one in the free trial version). So for fans of the show, you’ll be disappointed to know that regulars like bear and shark are missing from the app. Still, given how repetition is a toddler’s best friend (parents who have heard a child request for the same song in the car over and over and over again will know exactly what I mean!), the app will provide plenty of edutainment!