Bottom Line: Elastic Alphabet is a new release from developer Pratik Machchar that is designed to introduce youngsters to the alphabet using clean, simple animations. Follow Gigi through the alphabet and be introduced to a world of letters and sounds.
No ads or in-app purchases, but there are external links in a minimally protected parent area
Elastic Alphabets introduces us to the character Gigi, a simple little balloon (?) character that pops in and out of animations throughout gameplay to help introduce your child to the letters and sounds of the alphabet. Each letter is introduced first with by showing a demonstration of how to write it and then we see three key words beginning (for the most part) with the letter. Tapping on the letter again can show an additional animation showing the shape or construction of the letter using random items like buttons.
Each word is represented by a drawing that your child can interact with by tapping. Generally, the words used as examples are simple words using short vowels. Each word/object has multiple animations available to bring it to life. There appear to be at least three animations with each word, but they seem to be in random order so it’s possible that there are more (or less) for some of the letters.
There are several ways that parents and teachers can customize this app in the parent section. Background music and audio can be muted individually. Case can be switched between upper and lower, and you can choose not to show the title text of each item (though I can’t imagine a situation where I would want to do that). You can pick which letters you want to see or play directly through the alphabet in order.
What I liked:
Bright, engaging animations that should really appeal to preschoolers.
Multiple examples for each letter help keep little learners engaged.
App has a high quality feel to it, with cute artwork and fun sound effects. There are some improvements that could be made in the parent’s section and in the app store description that could really help polish things up, though.
What I liked less:
Some of the letters had actual written words for demonstration rather than pictures. For example the letter U had the actual words “up” and “under”. I think this would be an ineffective tool for non-readers.
The parent’s section can easily be accessed by simply holding the settings button for three seconds. Once there, there are unprotected open links to social media and the developer’s site. This basically creates an open link to any internet content. Access to the parent area really needs to be beefed up with questions or a puzzle.
I wish that the drawing of each letter hadn’t just been a demonstration. I think that it would be a better teaching tool if it was interactive and allowed the child to trace each letter.
I just don’t understand why the letter X was represented with words that didn’t begin with X but only had the X sound at the end. I know it’s tough, but I think I would have opted to go with x-ray and xylophone rather than using fox, box, and ax.
Overall, I think that this app could be an effective tool for teaching letters and reinforcing letter recognition skills. There are certainly some rough edges to be ironed out, but hopefully the developer will address these things in updates. I am concerned that the $3.99 pricetag might be a little steep for some users, particularly in an already crowded app market. I am going to go ahead and give this app a 4-star rating.
Watch this app in action here:
Kelli is surprised (but not really) that it only took four days of being back in school after the holiday before one of her kids was sick. Smart Apps for Kids was paid a fee to review this app in a priority fashion.