Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Montessori Letter Sounds HD

Montessori Letter Sounds HD

Fall 2012 Mobile Apps
Ages: 3 - 6 yrs.
Designer: Pierre Brissonet
Developer: Gaƫl de Dorlodot
Developer: Marilyne Maugin
Developer: Valerie Touze
Download Price: $2.99
Platform: iPad

Les Trois Elles, developers of previous Parents' Choice Award winning app Tam & Tao in Numberland, have released Montessori Letter Sounds, another standout app. This time, the developer aims to teach early literacy skills to 3- to 7-year-olds using the Montessori Method. In the Parents section of the app, the developers explain that they have designed their app according to Maria Montessori's learning principles. According to Montessori, learning to read requires four steps, which are quoted here:

  • Building a rich vocabulary to put a meaning to what you are reading .
  • Playing phonetic games to prepare your ears for the different sounds.
  • Learning the sound each letter makes on its own or when blended.
  • "Writing" words phonetically using a moveable alphabet, because children can sound-out words before they have the physical ability to write them with a pencil.

The activities in Montessori Letter Sounds are organized around these steps. Children must create a profile within the app to begin using it. This is not just a fun personalization feature; It also tracks progress and makes sure that children go through the reading steps at an appropriate pace. The first activity available to be played is I Spy. Children can scroll through a well-illustrated set of image cards and tap each one to hear how it is pronounced. The voiceover emphasizes the first sound of each word, and then prompts children to record themselves pronouncing each word before playing it back to listen to it. After playing with the cards for a while, children can play an I Spy game that challenges them to tap a card featuring the image representing a word starting with the letter sound just pronounced.

In the next level of play, Letter Sounds, children learn to match cards showing each letter with the correct sound pronounced by the voiceover. After that, the Mix & Match level presents three pictures and one letter below them. Children must drag the letter to the picture representing a word that starts with that sound. If they need help, they can tap each card to hear how it is pronounced. Finally, in Sound It Out, children spell simple words using letter cards. Audio assistance reminds them what sound each card makes.

Each of these activities is engaging and beautifully illustrated. The activities, though, are only the beginning of what this app offers. It also has a useful tool box feature. This includes phonetic flashcards featuring letter sounds and phonogram sounds. There is also a notebook for tracing out letters, and a virtual sandbox for children to draw letters with their fingers. Finally, there is an image tool that lets children browse through the images used in the game, should they need a refresher. The sound design throughout all of these activities and tools deserves special mention. It gives a tactile feel to the digital app, which will make children feel as though the virtual marbles used to keep score in each activity really count.

Montessori Letter Sounds is a layered introduction to reading that children will enjoy using. Families with young readers will appreciate its well-paced and engaging lessons.

Parents' Choice   ©2012 Parents' Choice

Look for this product at:
Les Trois Elles Interactive
Available on iTunes

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