Bottom Line: An app that manages to make sight words more interesting than just flashcards and memorization. Play hide and seek with a cute kangaroo, as well as bingo, whack-a-mole, a memory game and more. ON SALE for a limited time! 50 percent off until Jan. 2!
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Sight words are, by definition, high-frequency words that don't fit the phonetic rules kids are learning. The best way to learn and remember them is rote memorization — seeing the words so often they become second nature in reading. This typically involves a lot of flashcards, a lot of repetition, and, for my kid, a lot of boredom. Seven Academy to the rescue!
The Sight Word Adventure does its best to make sight words fun, exciting and less boring. Let's face it: this is not an exciting topic, and any app will have an uphill battle to make it entertaining. But The Sight Word Adventure does a better job than many of the flashcard-based sight word apps I've seen, most of which were recommended by my daughter's teacher. I can't wait to show the teacher that there's a better app available.
There's a lot of science and psychology behind the way Seven Academy has organized this app, and I'll let you read all about it in the app's iTunes description. For our purposes, what you need to know is that the app is divided into five sections representing five levels of difficulty, and that there's more to it than flashcards. We start out by choosing a level, and are then whisked off to play hide-and-seek with a cute kangaroo who introduces us to a new word every time we find her. After a few rounds of this, she lets us choose one of seven mini-games to reinforce what we're learning. Actually, users can play the mini-games without going through the hide-and-seek first, and for kids at the top of the age range (which is K-3rd grade), I think this will end up being the preferred method. My daughter, who is 7, got bored with hide-and-seek and just wanted to move on to the stuff she deemed more fun and interesting.
The app includes 320 words, and thanks to the progress tracker and other goodies in the parent/teacher section, a grown-up can choose which words kids need to focus on. My daughter, for instance, has already mastered many of these words, but still needs help with others. It's nice to be able to set the app to give her practice on what she needs without wasting a lot of time on stuff she already knows. The app also allows for multiple user profiles, which make it useful in a classroom setting.
The hide-and-seek game isn't all that challenging for second and third graders, but the other games increase in difficulty as you move up the levels. Even I found the balloon-popping to be a bit of a challenge on level 5. None of the games are revolutionary, but the graphics are cute, the interface is easy to navigate, and the app does what it's supposed to: put these words in front of kids over and over and over again.
I've given this app our coveted Top Pick status because it's by far the best sight word app I've seen. Sure, I wish the hide-and-seek game were more intriguing for older kids, and I wish there were some new or innovative way to make a boring topic less boring, other than games we've seen in other apps ad nauseam. But considering the subject matter, the folks at Seven Academy have done an admirable job of making it less tedious. And the stuff in the parents' section alone is worth the price of the app. Be sure to check it out when you can wrestle the iPad away from your kid.
I don't know yet if this app has helped my daughter in her retention of sight words. If all the science behind the app's creation is true, I'm sure it has. I DO know it's made her more willing to work on a topic she's not crazy about, and that it's given me the ability to better target her weak spots. And it sure beats flashcards.