I’ve been having a blast testing out apps this summer for my first grade students! I have found that there are a number of apps which I believe would enhance the curriculum in my classroom and provide the children a wide variety of unique learning experiences. The first app that caught my attention is Build a Word by @Reks: Educational Applications
One of the most significant aspects of this app that I like is that there is an option to choose the kind of word list you would like the children to work on. There are lists for all of the following and more: beginning blend sounds, double consonants, short vowels, long vowels, Dolch word lists for grades preprimer to third and 1-3 letter word lists all the way to 6+ letter word lists. This feature really allows for differentiation within one classroom while it also enables teachers to use this app across the grades as well.
The other feature I think is beneficial about this app is that when you tap the letter, the exact letter sound is given. This is wonderful repetition at all ages and helps build letter-sound correspondence in emerging readers without a teacher needing to sit with each child individually. I really like that only the letter sound is given such as “d” verses “da” for the letter Dd. It is also not over-congratulatory and doesn’t take much time away from the actual work whether the child is right or wrong. There is an opportunity to learn the “rule” (aka long a) for each list, then to practice it and finally to take a test. In both the “learn” and “practice” stages of this game the player cannot put the wrong letter in the wrong spot and continue on. In the “test” portion, however, the player is completely on his/her own to sound out the word and spell it correctly. If the child gets it right, he/she will simply get a smiley face and sad face for getting it incorrect.
What I’d like to change:
What I wish I could do on this app is have more flexibility in the lists themselves. While there is a wide array to choose from, I would like the option to mix lists together at once. For instance, if we are working on long vowels and the children should have already mastered short vowels, I would like to include both word groups on the list. I would also like to have the option for some accountability on the children’s part. It would be helpful for them to somehow show me all the lists they have completed and have some way of tracking their progress. Without this step, it is difficult to know how effective this app truly is.