Wee Alhpa 8/8/13

This app, for iPad running iOS 5 or later, has creative imagery and is engaging for children just beginning to identify letters.

This review is not about a five star app, instead it’s one of my few ‘mixed’ reviews. On the surface Wee Alphas is great. You’ll even find it featured at the Apps Store. It’s an interactive book with a cute story that uses animals to introduce the alphabet. The animals are made up of simple shapes and the first letter of their name is hidden somewhere on their body. There is an ‘easter egg’ on each page with a surprise animation. You have to ‘hunt’ to find it! When you get to the end of the book you can pick any letter to practice drawing it. The book suggest picking “your special letter” which would be the first letter in your own name. I absolutely love the idea of the ‘special letter’. So far so good. Then I started experimenting and reading others’ reviews. After I practiced writing one letter, I wanted to practice others. I had tapped the right arrow, which is what you tap to move forward in the book. So, it naturally took me to a review page with a button to “Go Again”. The ONLY way to get back was to re-read the entire book. There’s no, skip to the end but I did notice the second time I practiced writing a letter, there was an arrow pointing back. I could indeed return to select another to practice writing. Well, that’s not so bad, just an inconvenience. But there’s more.

In a review I read that the chipmunk animal begins with a ‘ch’ sound not a ‘c’ sound. Then another person pointed out that the jelly fish was named José, which starts with the ‘h’ sound. Also, the simple design of this app is its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. If a child is learning how to write capital letters, then perhaps a san-serif font isn’t the best choice. To write the letter “I” there should be one vertical stroke and two horizontal strokes; one at each end of the vertical stroke. But in Wee Alphas the capital letter I is only the vertical stroke. Same goes for the letter “J” and the letter “U” is missing its ‘tail’. The issue with the font they used bothers me and I also wish they included lower case letters. The book can still be enjoyable. There are settings for an adult to turn off the narration and/or music. So I end with a mixed feeling about Wee Alphas, but am still glad I downloaded it and believe there is value in reading this beautifully illustrated creative story.

Download Wee Alphas by Wee Society for the iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wee-alphas/id547438422?mt=8

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