App Review and Free App Giveaway – Fundanoodle ABCs & 123s

Have you ever come across a product and wondered out loud, “How have I not seen this before?”  For all the homeschool conferences I’ve been to, for all the SLP (speech and language pathologist) workshops I’ve attended, for all the homeschool catalogs I’ve perused, this morning was the first time I have come across a product line called Fundanoodle.  It reminds me of a well-known special ed and homeschooling handwriting program except Fundanoodle is in full color and is WAY      MORE        FUN!!!!  See for yourself at www.fundanoodle.com, and enter their summer sweepstakes at http://www.carolinapad.com/cool-stuff/monthly-contest-detail.cfm/month_cont_id/A84D31F4-5056-B828-C7DE8933AABDAFA4.  At the end of this review, you’ll also have a chance to win a free app from Fundanoodle.

Today I’m going to focus in on Fundanoodle’s ABC and 123s app.   This is a beginning or remedial print handwriting app that features a monkey named Max and his trainer Alphie.  Meet Max:

iPad Screenshot 3

This handwriting program was developed by a team of occupational therapists who understand the natural development of children’s visual and motor skills; hence, the letters are taught not in alphabetical order but in developmental order.  This is a great feature for a child who might breeze through learning the letter F but struggle with the letter A or B.  Beginning with the easiest letters to write ensures that your student will experience success early on, so by the time they get to the more difficult letters, they will have confidence and a good writing foundation to aid them in their progress.  This concept is crucial for learners with special needs like autism, Down syndrome, sensory integration and processing disorders, and dyslexia who may struggle  in writing and other fine motor activities.

This app has bright, colorful graphics that make it very appealing to the eye yet simple enough to allow for focus without distraction.

iPad Screenshot 4

The panel at the top of the page allows you or your child to select the letter you want to work on, so your child never has to start at the beginning to get to where they left off.  This also allows you to manipulate the order of the letters if your child is only struggling with certain letters.  The app itself has three boards to choose from:  Capital letters, lowercase letters and numbers.  The free version of ABCs and 123s comes with a limited number of letters and numbers for each board, but it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the app and assess for yourself if it would be helpful for your child. 

Max the Monkey appears in the top right corner of the screen and gives directions for forming the letter both by speaking and in print.  I suggest having your child click on the word box before he prints each letter so he has lots of repetitions of the correct way to form the letter.  Max has a total of 19 phrases that he uses to describe all the movements required to print the letters of the alphabet.  For example, his script for the letter E looks like this:

  1. Zip Down.
  2. Hop to the Top.
  3. Zip Across the Top.
  4. Zip Across the Middle.
  5. Zip Across the Bottom.

How fun is that????

The shortness and description in these phrases makes them easy to remember and easy to understand.  Zip, hop, zoom, buzz, bump, dot – Kids love those action verbs, especially when they are coming from a monkey named Max. 

The first letter in the top row of the screen is there for your child to trace, the next 11 boxes are for your child to draw the letter on their own using Max’s instructions.  A gray line appears where your child has touched the screen, so there is immediate visual feedback for each box.  At the bottom of the screen is a blank row where your child can repeat the letter learned or practice the letters he already knows.

The app picks up very light pressure, and the area of the screen dedicated to writing is quite a distance from the control buttons which make it very easy for a young child to manipulate without accidentally hitting the home or next key.

In my house, Bella (3) and Andres (8 with Chiari malformation) will all be using this app.  Bella can recognize most of her letters and numbers and is just learning to write them, and Andres knows how to write all his letters, but because of his fine motor issues, handwriting is very difficult for him.  Noah (5 with Down syndrome) will be ready for this soon.

One item to note is that the order the uppercase alphabet is taught in is a different order than the lowercase alphabet because some lowercase letters are harder to print than their uppercase partner.  This is taught strictly for handwriting and does not address progressive literacy.  Of course, as your child is learning to print the letter, he should be learning the sound for that letter as well, whether it is uppercase or lowercase.

The Bottom Line for ABCs and 123s:

Ages – 3 to 8 or for remedial fine motor/handwriting for older children. 

Cost – Free for four capital letters, four lowercase letters and four numbers.  $1.99 for numbers through 10 and the remainder of the alphabet.

***** out of ***** stars for value, clarity, quality, eye-appeal, ease of use and efficacy.

App Store Link:  http://itunes.apple.com/vg/app/abcs-and-123s/id525392015?mt=8

Fundanoodle is very generously giving away one copy of the full version of ABCs and 123s to www.wordsofhisheart.wordpress.com readers.  To enter the drawing, leave a comment below and I’ll announce the winner on Friday, June 22, 2012.

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