Disclosure: This product was given to me free of charge by Colto to be reviewed, and I have also received a fee for my time. However, as per my PR info disclaimer, this review is my unbiased honest opinion of the product.
Price: £1.49 (universal app)
Age Range: 2-5 years
Manufacturer’s Description: Want to give your preschooler a head start in learning English? ABC Gurus is a fun and creative App that your child will have loads of fun playing while they learn the alphabet and phonics.
Designed by a mum/teacher with preschool teachers, game developers and a children’s special needs phonics expert, this app teaches kids phonics (the phonemic sounds letters make and associating them with their letter form), the names of letters and the meaning and pronunciation of new words starting with each letter.
Rating: (5/5 stars)
Review: Georgie (almost 4) and Lydia (just 2) have both been playing with this app since I installed it on their iPad, and they both love it. Georgie knows her letters and is learning all of the phonetic pronunciations right now, so this app is perfect for her.
Once the app loads up you are presented with a planet illustration, with the letters of the alphabet floating above the planet surface. Ten letters are visible on the screen, and you rotate the planet to change what apps you can see. Tapping the “abc” button on the top right of switches the letters between uppercase and lowercase – an option I am very pleased to see, as I am often frustrated when it is lacking in other apps.
After selecting a letter, you are taken to a screen with the chosen letter in the middle of the screen, completely blank. There are five crayons on the right hand side of the screen to choose from; tap one of these to select it, and then move your finger over the letter to colour it in with your chosen colour.
On the left hand side of the screen are five groups of objects/facial features; hats, accessories such as plasters, facial hair, mouths and eyes. The different options for these come up along the bottom and can be dragged & dropped onto the letter. One nice point to make is that all of the objects can be moved around once placed, so if your child puts it in the wrong place it is really easy to move it.
When your masterpiece is complete, you press the button with the forward arrow, and the controls go away, to be replaced by a fun animation; “Y is for yeti”, “H is for hedgehog”, and so on. The eyes you have placed on your letter move to follow the animation, and quite a few of the facial features react in some way – a nice touch. The final step is to snap a photo of your creation and you are done – back to the main menu.
All the way through the process, the sounds of the letters are being reinforced through the audio. When you first choose a letter, it announces that letter with it’s “regular” pronunciation, and then everything you do triggers the phonic sound for the letter – every feature you place makes the sound, and colouring in makes it repeat it. It’s a great way to teach phonics as the letter is right there in front of them while they are hearing the sound for it constantly.
The graphics in this app are really great; it is very colourful, enjoyable, and accessible for its target audience. The beautiful bright letters are very appealing to kids and all of the little facial features, hats, and so on are very cute and fun.
Both Georgie and Lydia found the app really easy to use and didn’t need any help or instruction from me as they navigated the app. It is really intuitive to use and doesn’t have any complicated menus. The settings panel in the iOS settings app has a few options which lets you hide the parent menu completely, hide adverts for new games, or turn the photo saving on/off.
I only have two suggested improvements for this app. The first would be for the letters selection on the home screen to be scrollable by swiping them left and right, not just the planet – Georgie expected that to work and couldn’t understand why it didn’t. The second thins would be for there to be a back button for those times when you tap the wrong letter by mistake – Georgie did this once or twice and was frustrated she couldn’t go back and change her selection.
Overall we have been very impressed with this app and the kids have really enjoyed it. Georgie told me “it’s really good, Mummy” and both girls have chosen to play it several times without me pointing it out.
5 stars for ABC Gurus – I think it’s a bargain for £1.49!