Designed specifically for children in Kindergarten and First Grade, The Word Monsters allows users to strengthen their skills in phonics, while reading very low-level interactive texts. There is an option to have the stories narrated as well. The books follow the journeys of several friendly monsters, each with a unique set of interests and personalities. There are three sets of activities that reinforce words that were learned in the stories: “Story Details,” “Word Works,” and “Phonics Fun.” During each story, users can click on a few highlighted objects in each frame. The object, which could be an umbrella, will perform its function, and say its name. There are also six other titles, with more coming soon, for users to read. All books except for “Book 1” are paid, but are smartly password protected and child friendly. Because the reading levels are for young children the app is recommended for children ages 4 – 7.
Getting started and then maintaining attention and effort to tasks.
The Word Monsters relies so heavily on it's highly interactive presentation, which commands the attention of younger readers. There are not all that many pages per story, allowing users to explore the vocabulary by clicking on a variety of objects displayed on each page. It would behoove users to look carefully at each page, that way they explore more vocabulary words. Users must become active readers, as they try to absorb some the character traits of the monsters simply by becoming more familiar with the settings in which they are introduced. For users who struggle with language and vocabulary, the narrating option makes it easier to follow along, and may even allow users a better chance to engage further with some of the unique characters. The relative brevity of the stories make it easier for users to demonstrate focus and goal directed persistence, or the ability to carry out an activity until it is completed.
Recalling and retaining information in our mind while working.
The "Activities" section works to reinforce vocabulary and many of the phonemic awareness skills that were introduced throughout the short texts. Users will have to recall specifics about characters in the "Story Details" game, whether it's naming the individual monsters, or remembering some of their more distinct character traits -- for example, "Rip" enjoys lifting weights. The "Word Works" activity is essentially a digital version of the card game Concentration. But instead of matching two alike playing cards, users must match the sound of a word to its written example. Not only must users demonstrate strong short term recall, but they will also be putting their phonics and phonemic awareness skills to the test.
While it's true that the app is extremely minimalist in terms of the amount of words that appear on the page, it is a great opportunity for younger children to build their word recognition skills. In this way The Word Monsters is more of a decoding app, than a traditional reading app. It's more about what users do with the stories, rather than what they offer at face value. The "Phonics Fun" activity presents users with a series of words, and prompts them to highlight the ones that begin with a particular letter or sounds. These types of activities, will help to improve more foundational and building block aspects of the reading process.
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