Getting the basics of reading and writing is one of the most important lessons for young students, and the Montessori Letter Sounds app gives a great introduction to phonetic sounds and letters. The app has been developed by a group of Montessori teachers, Les Trois Elles, who have had many years of teaching experience, and is a great approach to supplementing reading practice for students between 3 and 7 years. It offers multiple activities such as writing letters, listening to phonetic sounds and pronouncing words, and uses bright graphics and marbles as encouragement.
The app is divided into four progressive steps, I Spy, Letter Sounds, Mix and Match and Sound it Out. I Spy is the first step in the game where players learn words to enrich their vocabulary, and try to identify sounds in words. This is an excellent method of gradually increasing very young children’s vocabulary while also improving their understanding of letters and words.
The second step in the app, Letter Sounds, is for 4 years and up. This step helps players to memorize letter sounds and shapes, and has three levels, vowels only, vowels and consonants, and vowels consonants and phonograms. Players have to select the letter based on a sound given, and if they get it correct, they receive a marble.
The third step, Mix and Match, is unlocked by playing the first two games and winning enough marbles to progress. It aims to increase awareness of letters being used in the beginning, middle and at the end of words, and helps players associate the sounds of words with the matching letters.
The final step, Sound it Out, allows players to write words using mobile letters. At the beginning the words are short, but through the game they become longer and more complex.
The app has some other nice features that complement the game including a sandbox and notebook where players can trace letters, and an image box with everyday images and the words that go with them. These features give a good practical use for the learning done in the game section.
What we liked about this app was that it used the key teachings of the Montessori method to give a modern twist to learning about letters and words. The method itself is based on building self confidence and allowing children to try without the fear of getting things wrong. The app itself is nicely simple, with clear audio and bright graphics. It would be an excellent supplement to any pre-reading student looking to improve their letter understanding, and is a good basis for progressing onto reading. It could also helpful for giving toddlers a head start before they start schooling.
The app is available for purchase via iTunes and is compatible with iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch.