Have you ever heard of a little game called Fruit Ninja? Of course, right? Fruit Ninja is always my students' go to app when I give them free time breaks on the iPad! They love slashing and interacting with the digital touch-based features of the iPad! Now, imagine an app that incorporated this same concept of slashing fruit like a skilled Ninja while also learning!
Innovative Mobile Apps have come out with the cleverest apps to support emergent literacy and basic number sense. Three of their apps including an alphabet app, sight word app, and number app have a similar design as Fruit Ninja!
The alphabet and sight word apps have been great to support emergent literacy skills. Emergent literacy skills are the skills students need to learn before they can read fluently. They are essentially pre-reading skills such as letter names and sounds, phonological awareness, print awareness, sight words, or oral vocabulary.
I really believe that these apps not only provide a rich learning experience to work on emergent literacy skills, but they are further designed on a platform that speaks to the digital learner. All of these apps have students respond through digital touch and are designed on a fun interactive platform that seems to be based on a very popular iPad game. It is time to make learning fun again!! Here is an overview of each app.
ABC Ninja focuses on letter names and letter sounds. The app can be set to call out only letter names or only letter sounds. It further has the option display upper case, lower case, or both while calling out the names and sounds. If a student is struggling with specific letters, the app can be set to only call out certain letter names or sounds. I have used this app with the students I tutored through the Learning Disabilties Association of Niagara Region's early intervention reading program called Reading Rocks Junior. When I worked one-on-one with students who were having difficulty learning emergent literacy skills, this app completely engaged them and made learning fun! My students seemed to forgot they were even learning because they were so busy trying to slash the right letter or letter sound before the letter fell off the screen! It is such a great app to engage young children in their learning experience. Here is an example of what the app looks like when a student slashes a letter:
Sight Word Ninja
Sight Word Ninja is essentially the same design as alphabet ninja. However, the difficulty level is adjusted based on Preschool to Grade 3. Many of the words resemble the Dolch sight word lists. I was so excited to find this app and have been using it with the one student I private tutor. My student loves playing Fruit Ninja as free time on the iPad during breaks. The student I am talking about has Autism and really struggles with emergent literacy skills. My student has had a hard time focusing and sitting still while going through sight word flashcards. The Sight Word Ninja app has certainly helped my student engage and focus while learning sight words. Here is an example of what the app looks like when a student slashes a word:
123 Ninja also follows the same design of the above apps. The difficulty level is adjusted based on the range of numbers students are working on. For instance, a teacher can set the app to numbers from 1-9 or from 10-19 or from 1-19. The numbers go all the way up to 99 so whatever numbers your student is struggling with, this app provides an engaging learning environment for your student to practice basic number sense. I can see this app being helpful if you have a student struggling with a particular set of numbers such as the teens. This app can be differentiated to only focus on the teen numbers and really help that student engage, listen, and focus while learning on the app. Here is an example of what the app looks like when a student slashes a number:
Overall, all these apps have settings to differentiate the game from easy to hard and based specifically on what emergent literacy or number sense skill your student needs to work on. The app further provides a progress report or feedback report for the student and the teacher to look at. On top of this, all three apps have a built in reward system for students to collect stars. The only suggestion I have for improving this app would be if students could create their own profile. Right now, the app just assumes it is the same player each time. If students are sharing apps in the classroom, it would be a great feature for students to have the option to click their name and have their results recorded. In the mean time, I would suggest taking a screen shot like the one below and filing it somehow under the students' name. This would then provide you with the feedback needed to document progress as a student uses an the app. Take a look at my app review of Sesame, which is a digital assessment tool to track students' progress. This would be a great screenshot to upload to a students' profile on Sesame.