I’ve actually had the Starfall ABC app on my phone for months and I remember Dylan playing it on occasion, but it only recently gained popularity in his app rotation. The catalyst was the app’s accompanying website, Starfall.com, which is a popular resource among teachers because it has a slew of games for teaching colors, shapes, letters, numbers, phonics, reading and so on. You can purchase a membership to access the site’s full content or utilize their extensive free offerings until you decide if a membership is worth it to you.
My mother, as I’ve said before, is a teacher and she is always turning me onto these “in the know” learning resources. Earlier this week she set Dylan up at her computer and navigated to the ABC section of the Starfall site (“Classic Starfall”). Dylan was entertained by the bold colors and pictures, laughed at the silly animations, and engaged in the places where he was supposed to. Interestingly, the Starfall ABC app has the exact same content as that particular section of the website but Dylan definitely responds to it better on the computer. I think the fact that the computer screen isn’t a touch screen forces him to pace himself more and focus on what’s being presented. He can’t easily click to the next screen like he can on an iPhone or iPad’s touchscreen.
That said, mere minutes after telling my mother that I was glad Dylan doesn’t know how to use a computer mouse yet because I have to navigate the site for him and he has to look at what I want to show him, this happened:
He drives the ship now, so its very clear what his favorite parts of the site are. He REALLY likes this counting song about frogs. Warning! It will get stuck in your head like mad!
Aside from the ABCs and the frog song, Dylan’s other favorite sections include this shape sorting game, this word machine game, this color exploration and this song. We haven’t even fully explored all the sections of the site yet because I can’t get Dylan past his early favorites.
I’ve touted the website enough…Let’s get back to the app! The Starfall ABC app is simple to use. You select a letter, hear the sound it makes, and click around to see animations pertaining to that letter.
The letter “G”, for example, has a cool gumball animation, among others.
I recommend getting the Starfall ABC app for your iPhone or iPad even though it is $2.99, which is a bit high for an app. For the price, I think the Starfall company should include more of the website’s functions on the app, but its still a great resource for learning letters and I can see Dylan developing a renewed interest in it now that he is familiar with the website. The company does offer other apps for other areas of learning, so be sure to check them all out when you visit the app store!
Lastly, I want to share a cool phrase my mother taught me this week after I mentioned to her that Dylan has played the Starfall ABC app before but never seemed interested in it until this week. She replied, “It must have entered his ‘zone of proximal development’.” Which just means, the app is not too frustrating and not too easy for Dylan; its in that sweet spot that will bring him to the next place in his learning.
If Dylan continues to stay interested in the Starfall website I will probably become a member to access the full range of content. It is quite comprehensive and offers learning games geared toward many different levels of development, from toddlerhood through early elementary school.
UPDATE! I purchased the membership a few weeks ago and it is SO worth the one-time $35 fee. Dylan plays it enthusiastically at least twice a day with rapt attention. He is learning a warp speed! Get this!
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