We try not to let my son have an excess amount of television or tablet time, but as he has become a toddler it has become harder to ban them outright. He knows our phones and tablets have games and videos, so we’ve slowly started adding more toddler-friendly educational games. His favorite and mine is SUPER WHY!, based on the show!
Not familiar with Super Why? He’s a little boy named Whyatt who, along with his three super reader friends (Princess Presto, Wonder Red, and Alpha Pig-all based on fairy tale characters), enter books to change the endings. Along the way the team spells, works on their alphabet, learns about rhyming words, and gives characters happier endings. A good example is the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf; their story ends with the wolf being changed to the big GOOD wolf, where he goes off to make friends with the pigs. Alpha Pig uses this lesson to make friends with someone he clashed with on the playground, so kids learn friendship lessons and spelling all at once.
The app takes the basics of the show and distills them into a very toddler friendly game. There are four ways to play (from the Amazon description):
“ALPHA PIG’S LICKETY LETTER HUNT Help Alpha Pig find his way home by identifying the letters he needs to follow the alphabet path. That’s Alphabet Power!”
“PRINCESS PRESTO’S WANDS-UP WRITING Help Princess Presto make objects appear by identifying letter sounds, tracing letters on the touch screen, and writing words. Spectacular Spelling!”
“WONDER RED’S RHYMING TIME It’s time to rhyme! Help Wonder Red find the rhyming words missing from her Wonder Words Basket.”
“SUPER WHY’S STORY SAVER Super Why…to the rescue! Help Super Why save the day by selecting words to complete sentences that fit the story.”
Alpha Pig’s Lickety Letter Hunt and Princess Presto’s Wands-Up Writing are perfect for kids who are working on mastering the alphabet, and Wonder Red’s Rhyming Time and Super Why’s Story Saver are appropriate for kids who are just learning to read. The characters talk the player through each game, and they keep the actual gameplay very simple. My son is a little over 2, and he figured out how to play very quickly.
As a parent, I don’t mind him spending a few minutes playing the game, especially the Alpha Pig activity. Alpha Pig says they’re going to spell out a simple word, like FROG, and then they’re asked to find each letter. Each time they’re offered only three letters to choose from, so even a kid who doesn’t know their letters well can pick up the idea quickly. My son is just getting the hang of his letters, and it’s amazing to watch him play; at times he just guesses, but when a letter he knows pops up it’s great to see the confidence on his face as he selects the right one. And the more he plays, the more he’s recognizing letters along the way!
Best of all, there are no in-app purchases for the game, nor are there ads or links that can lead him out of the game or to accidentally making a purchase. We got lucky and picked the game up when it was a Free App of the Day on Amazon, but even at $3.99 it’s a pretty good deal. It’s sneaky-educational, like the show itself; kids have so much fun watching and interacting they don’t realize they’re learning as they go. It’s also a game parents can play with their child, helping them along the way and reinforcing the lessons as they go. If you’re looking for educational choices for a young child, this is a great choice to give a kid a treat of some screen time and still have them learning something!
Source: Personal download
What I Like: Educational tool to teach children the basics of reading; no in-app purchases or ads; uses familiar characters to get kids engaged; works on tablets as well as phones
What Needs Improvement: Nothing