Smart Letters
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Academics' Choice Award™ Winner

Smart Letters

Ages: 3 - 6
Price: $49.99
Type: Toy, App
By Marbotic


Smart Letters is the perfect blend of traditional toy and touchsccreen technology: it is a set of 26 connected wooden letters to learn to read and write to kids aged 3-6. Wooden letters interacts with the iPad screen thanks to 3 free apps: "Alphamonster" to discover letters's sound and modalities (upper case, lower case, cursive/script), "Vocabubble" to enrich vocabulary, and "Bla Bla Box" to compose syllables and words and let the iPad say them out loud. Based of Montessori method, Smart Letters helps kids to learn with their brain, their hands and their heart.

Review Highlights:

I had the chance to explore Smart Letters which are letters that you use with an Ipad. There are three different free apps to use with the letters. This toy focuses on letter identification, phonemic awareness, phonics, and some word building. The Vocabubble app focuses on all 26 letters. The students find the chosen letter and create that letter multiple times. They can then tap on the letters they made to see words and pictures that start with that letter. The Alphamonster app has three options for play. First they tap a letter three times on a machine to create a phonics picture, the letter, and the lowercase. The next option has 5 levels: matching letters, letter sounds, phonics match, matching lower to uppercase, and matching to lowercase in cursive. The final option focuses on phonic pictures. The student taps the picture with the letter and the pictures change. The last app is the Bla Bla Box. In this app the child chooses a variety of letters. As they are placed on the ipad screen the app says the sound. If two letters are placed close enough the app will identify the blended sounds, so they can create (nonsense) words.

I teach preschoolers with special needs. I tested this product with two of my preschoolers with special needs and their mom. One child almost 4 and the other almost 6. The four year old figured out that the alphmonster app in the phonics picture option will work without the letters. If you touch the screen the pictures still change and you still have the sounds. He liked not having to have the letters as his ability to match the letters was lower. I liked that some of my students would still be getting the phonemic awareness benefit as they began to work. During exploration they also discovered that they could play together in the vocabubble app. If you have the identified letter it says the name and stays. If you have another letter the letter shows up with no sound but then disappears. I like the options to differentiate the learning. You can set challenges from the settings screen so the children are only focused on a few letters at a time. I also like that in the alphamonster app if the student can not identify the letter sound it will give a fading visual cue after so many attempts. The mom really liked the Smart Letters toy and after exploring them was interested in purchasing for her children. I know as an adult trying it the first time I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of the games and the whimsical nature of a couple of the options. I can see how this toy would be very useful in my classroom.

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