About This Application
This application translates the popular Bob characters to the Ipad screen to help young students practice beginning reading skills. Bob Books are a staple of primary classrooms because of their extremely simple text and engaging line drawings. Each book is a short 8 to 12 pages, with text ranging from a single word to a simple sentence. Students enjoy the feeling of independence they can achieve with reading a book on their own. The books are graduated in difficulty such that a student can master the first, then move on through the series by learning a few more words and concepts at each level.
The application revolves around a collection of pages that have a simple sentence. Clicking on words or the corresponding line drawings will lead to a screen with scattered letters that spell the word when arranged in the correct order. Children are to drag the letters to the correct spaces below the picture, and are rewarded with a colored and animated version of the picture when the word has been spelled correctly. Completing all portions of the main screen triggers a coloring, animating and oral reading of the entire sentence, followed by an option to go to the next single-page story.
The application costs $3.99. Several levels are available for purchase.
The illustrations and sentence structure on each page are true to the print version of Bob books. The colors are vivid and the animations simple but eye-catching. The program works correctly when players touch items in the proper sequence.
However, it is possible to get the recorded prompts and letter sounds to overlap when they are touched rapidly in sequence, resulting in a chaotic auditory experience. The application has also hung up a few times for no apparent reason, causing some frustration for my pupils.
The app could definitely be improved by presenting entire stories rather than disjointed single pages. That would help it to maintain student interest for a longer period and encourage more practice as well as additional reading comprehension.
Bob Books #1 Reading Magic is a good way for students to practice letter sequencing and sight word recognition. It is most suitable for younger students from age four through approximately first grade. Older students or struggling readers may find the lack of depth in the reading to be tiresome.
Four levels of play are available. The lowest level rewards players for placing letters into the correct places to spell the target word. Letters stay in their proper spots no matter what order they are placed, so a student can spell a word from the last letter to the first with no correction. This does not support proper left-to-right sequencing that is so important for early learners. The second through fourth levels do require correct sequencing, so I typically start students with the second level.
The second level has visual hints about which letter goes in which box by providing a faint copy of the correct letter to guide student placement. The third level has all of the letters, but no visual clue. The fourth level places additional distractors on the page that are not used in spelling the target word, such that the student must choose the correct letters in the correct sequence, while ignoring the letters that do not belong in the word.
The app keeps track of completed stories and levels for one student and can be reset by an adult.
The home screen of the app contains relatively prominent links to an About page, an Options page and a link that opens a popup where other games can be purchased by the user. Clicking the “buy” link in this popup will take the user to the App Store with no easy way to return to the game. It would be relatively easy for a curious young child to find their way to the store and make a purchase if the adult user did not have adequate password protection on the account. Touching the company logo in the top left of the screen brings up a popup window asking for confirmation that the user wants to open Safari and exit the Bob program, so it is possible for a young child to access the internet through this program.
Each story presents arrows to the right and left after the page has been completed. Some children have trouble distinguishing the arrow to continue with the next story from the arrow that returns them to the menu of stories.
The story menu is picture-driven, making it easier for young children to choose new stories or favorite stories they wish to view again.
Bob Books Reading Magic has a free trial level that I strongly urge you to get. This app is not right for everyone because of some of the disadvantages listed above. If your child is a fan of Bob Books and is motivated by the stories, it’s a wonderful investment and will help your child practice important early reading skills. It is also a good investment for children who are just beginning to connect printed with spoken words and need to cement that connection.
See Bob Books #1 Reading Magic in the App Store: Bob Books #1
See Bob Books Reading Magic Lite (free sample) in the App Store: Bob Books Lite