Bongo’s Montessori Teachers App Review
Bongo’s Montessori Spelling Adventure offers spelling and phonics practice on any of six different levels for students from kindergarten through grade 5. The app presents words in the chosen category for students to spell, and offers an interactive game after a set number of correct responses. Adults can control many aspects of the app, including the frequency of interactive games, the font, the order of the letter display, and the phonics feature.
- Over 450 illustrated words grouped in six phonetic categories
- Interactive rewards triggered by successful task completion
- Choice of three fonts and four formats for letter tray
- Individualized lessons and record-keeping for up to fifty students
- Phonetic cues provide letter sounds when letters are chosen
Bongo’s Montessori Spelling Adventure is a great way to encourage young students to practice vital phonics skills. Adults can assign any of six phonics categories to student users and also can control many other important aspects of the game such as turning hints on and off. Students are presented with a word in the chosen phonetic category (such as easy short vowel words) that is illustrated and narrated. The task is to drag the correct letters from the letter tray to the blanks below the picture. After a given number of correctly completed tasks, the app sends users to an interactive rewards game. It will be very useful to teachers and parents to have such a high degree of control over the workings of the app using the “settings” section-it’s very well done!
There are three quality issues that bear mentioning, though. The first is that, when starting the game, the app presents a blank sign where the level is chosen. There is an arrow saying “Next” that developers intend for users to tap in order to get the first word group choice. The blank sign, when tapped, ends the app. The other issues that adults will want to be aware of relate to the words and illustrations. Some words, particularly the more abstract examples, have pictures that bear little relation to the words’ meanings. For example, the word “has” has a picture of the app’s mascot, Bongo. The word “wag” has a picture of a fox with a large tail but no indication of movement. There are also some words that seem to be miscategorized in terms of their phonetic elements. For example, the word “ski” is in the easy short vowel “i” section, but the “i” is not really using the regular short sound. Some students might find this to be a bit confusing.
This app offers high quality phonics and spelling practice and allows a high degree of teacher/parental control over lessons and incentives. The ability to choose the font and layout of the letter tray is a real plus; users can choose letters in capital, lower case or cursive fonts and cause the letter tray to be presented in alphabetical order, with vowels first or consonants first, or in a layout similar to a standard keyboard (QWERTY). Teachers will appreciate the ability to set up and to monitor usage records for up to fifty students.
The educational task (spelling the target word based on the picture) will help many beginning readers and spellers to learn about letter sounds and letter order. Optional hints allow players to touch a troublesome letter space in the word and hear the necessary sound in isolation. The interactive rewards also focus on the target words and skills, adding some hands-on fun to the spelling. All activities would benefit from an option to require letters to be placed (or captured) in left to right sequence, though. Presently, young users can spell the words by choosing the correct letters in any order, spelling CAT, for example, by adding an A, then a C, then a T.
Bongo’s Montessori Spelling Adventure is very entertaining for young players. Each of the introductory screens boast small interactive animations to discover, including a bouncing butterfly, a flapping parrot and a rattling snake tail. Jungle sound effects also add interest to the app (though they can be turned off in the options section if they become distracting). Each correctly-spelled word causes Bongo to appear with an encouraging message. Interactive games reward correct responses, and adult mentors can control their frequency and duration.
This app will make a great addition to a family or classroom collection of phonics/spelling games. It boasts outstanding control over options and educationally sound activities. The ability to individualize student assignments and see usage records for each player is also a real bonus.
Bongo’s Montessori Spelling Adventure is child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements or in-app purchases. Access to advertisements for additional apps by this developer, the settings options, and email are all protected by a requirement to solve a double digit addition problem that often requires regrouping, which is an effective protection scheme for this age group. One area that could use a bit more protection is the user profiles section. Young players might need to access this section to activate their own profiles, but as it stands now, they can also access others’ profiles, assign words, send email reports, and see other students’ performance records. Developers might want to consider tightening up security in this area so that unauthorized children do not have access to the means to modify their own or others’ profiles or to access email from this avenue.