2012 sees the introduction of the National Curriculum into our Queensland schools. Some of us are having trouble coming to terms with what our children are expected to be able to do by the end of the Prep year. One of the goals is that students should be able to write a short sentence, which is something we previously would not have expected of them until year one. When you realise that a simple sentence may only be made from 2 or 3 words, the goal doesn’t seem that difficult after all, but some parents may wonder what they can do to help their child achieve this. Sentence Reading Magic 1 by Preschool University is one App that can help children practice simple sentence structures while also practicing basic reading skills.
The App has two modes of play.
Sentence Building presents children with an illustration and words which can be dragged into place to create 2 or 3 word sentences or phrases. The sentences or phrases are often made up of words with similar phonic elements, such as the short ‘i’ sound in “Bill digs” or the initial letter ‘d’ in “The dog dug.” A short piece of music or sound effect plays when the student correctly places the words.
Sentence Reading presents a blank box where the illustration goes. Children read the text aloud and then tap the box to reveal the illustration and here the sentence spoken. If the child is struggling with a word, they can tap it to hear it spoken. This mode will probably need more adult guidance.
Spoken voice – You can select either a male or female voice. The voice has a North American accent, although it isn’t very strong.
Layout – the screens are uncluttered, making it easy for the child to select items and move them around the screen.
Built-in success – if the child places a word incorrectly, there are no annoying or distracting sounds indicating they have made a mistake. The word simply bounces back to where it was before, and the child can try again.
Illustrations – the illustrations closely match the sentences and phrases, even though the subject might be a bit obscure on one or two occasions (see below.)
Punctuation – A full stop will always accompany the last word in a sentence. This helps identify the last word in each sentence and reinforces the use of full stops to mark the end of sentences. Capitals are always used for the start of a sentence, but they are also used for proper nouns.
Vocabulary – all the words used, including the names of people, are easy to sound out.
Sound blending option– if you select this option, words will be sounded out and then spoken, such as “m – eh – n. men”
Some of the sentences and phrases are a bit obscure so the child might not understand what they are reading. My children had difficulty with a picture of a man sitting in a chair with a price tag. The sentence for this picture was “Cal fit” and we had to talk about the concept of the man fitting into the seat. They found this odd, but not as odd as “Vic bid.” This sentence was accompanied by a picture of a man clutching a handful of paper money and raising his hand, which launched us into a conversation about auctions. Luckily they had seen an episode or two of “Bargain Hunt” to use as a reference. Most of the sentences and phrases are easily understood, but it just goes to show how important it is for children to be able to interact with a parent (or other supportive person) to help them make connections between what they are doing on the screen with what is happening in the real world.
This App fits in nicely with the lower Primary curriculum and will help to reinforce the concepts of sentences and punctuation being taught at school. Children might need some help in identifying the couple of obscure pictures but this is easily done. The App’s icon has the number 1, so hopefully this means we will see some similar more challenging Apps soon.
Universal: works on both iPad and iPhone
Publisher: Preschool University
- Sentence Structure (ebrucoskun93.wordpress.com)