PocketPhonics (basic edition) App Review
Pocket Phonics provides focused practice with letter sounds and tracing, as well as segmenting and blending skills necessary for applying phonics skills in early reading.
- Over 170 high frequency words
- Teaches all letter sounds plus over 30 letter combination sounds
- Auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning
- Letter tracing
- Simple spelling from letter sounds
- On-line reporting for progress
- Free parents’ guide about using the app to teach reading
- Customizable manuscript style and letter case
- Easily choose appropriate phonics level
Pocket Phonics is an outstanding app that will benefit beginning readers in many ways. Users are presented with a letter sound and matching printed letter. They are prompted to trace the letter. After a few sounds are presented in this way, learners have a chance to find the letters from the dictated sounds, and finally to spell words that are spoken one sound at a time. Correct responses are reinforced with applause and verbal praise. The app includes many features that use best educational practices.
Pocket Phonics is one of the most comprehensive beginning phonics apps that I have seen. The designers have incorporated some outstanding features into the system, as well. Parents/teachers can choose from two common printing systems (D’Nealian or Zaner Bloser) and three writing forms (lowercase, upper case, and cursive) for each player.
The app does not name letters at any point, which experts agree is not necessary. Instead, it focuses on each letter’s sound. So the letter S is presented as the /s/ sound. Students have the chance to hear the sound, say the sound and trace the letter. Incorrect tracing, going off the path, or forming the letter with an incorrect sequence of steps is stopped and the player has the opportunity to begin again.
After a few letter sounds have been presented, the learner listens to a spoken sound and chooses the letter that matches. Letters grow and shrink when they are spoken for emphasis, and the app’s timing is impeccable. Later, the user listens to spoken sounds and spells words. Each word, when spelled correctly, displays a related picture. Some of the pictures for the more abstract words are not very clear for children. For example, the graphic for the word “an” is a basket of apples with one sitting by itself with arrows pointing to it. As an adult, I know that means “AN apple,” but I’m not sure most preschoolers or young children would understand. The app could be improved by inserting a spoken sentence using the word at this point.
There is a free record-keeping system accessible to parents and teachers that will help focus the activities even more exactly, matching the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Adults must sign up for this service in the Parents’ Section.
Pocket Phonics presents phonics concepts very efficiently and effectively. The graphics are colorful and for the most part, clear. The praises offered for correct responses are appropriate, though the intonation used by the voice (especially on the word “wonderful”) is a bit lackluster. However, the format stays the same throughout the presentation of all levels of sounds and all 170 words. This could get a bit boring for users who are expecting flashy, fast-paced activities that many other apps provide. App developers might consider including a faster-paced identification or matching game at the end of each level that might help keep students engaged.
Pocket Phonics is a great value at $2.99. The concepts covered range from preschool through second grade, and the app is very thorough. Students will be able to learn from this system for several years. The app also could provide enough repetition for struggling learners.
Pocket Phonics includes no outside advertising, and the Parentzone is protected by a difficult multiplication problem. Within the Parentzone, there are tools such as enabling and accessing the record-keeping system, tracking progress, connections to social media, and signing up for the developers’ newsletter. Adults can also access a free report outlining the synthetic phonics method, the framework of the teaching in this app.