Age Scale: 3-8
Device: iPod, iPhone, and iPad
Quick Line: Don’t Squish This Creation
What Educators Need to Know:
Who doesn’t love Play-Doh? Well, okay. What KID doesn’t love Play-Doh? It’s squishy, colorful, and can be used to make just about anything imaginable. My wonderfully awesome babysitter does not, in fact, love Play Doh due to its messiness, but I’m hoping this post will change her mind. Maybe she will allow it to enter her home!
When I was first approached to take a look at this app, I’ll admit that I was skeptical. Play Doh is such a great way to meet the needs of tactile learners. Wouldn’t an app take away from this strength? Not so.
Play Doh ABCs has several goals in mind: letter recognition, writing letters using proper stroke order, and letter/sound recognition. There are also three modes: Write and Craft, Create and Share, and Letter Matching. Now, there are THOUSANDS of apps that support letter and sound recognition. Play Doh does a decent job here. Students can connect letters with Play Doh art, including their own (see below). Clever! But there are FEW apps that I would recommend that enhance the writing of these letters. Many are too abstract! “Write and Create” is where Play Doh succeeds.
In fact, I saw the transition from digital learning to pencil-paper first-hand. E tried the app yesterday for about 30 minutes. First of all, I could not believe he stayed focused on something that is clearly not a strength. As usual, E likes to do things “his way”. Predictably, he started with uppercase A (lowercase is available too). When writing an A, he likes to start at the bottom, but Play Doh softly reminds users to follow the proper procedure as they trace the shape of the letter. Once finished, he was able to create a picture of an alligator by using pre-made components with custom colors. A purple alligator? No problem! The miracle occurred today when he had to write a capital A and did so with the proper stroke order! Can I attribute his success to this app directly and solely? No. But if I were a preschool or kindergarten teacher, I would say “perfect practice makes perfect”. There is no sense in practicing incorrect handwriting techniques.
If I were using this app in the classroom setting, I would certainly follow up with real Play-Doh. I would be encouraging students to mold the letters, trace their creations with their fingers, repeat my letter writing phrases, and use their pencils to write the letters. Let’s hit all modalities!
Notes: I would highly recommend using the settings to turn the sound off. It drove us nuts. Up to three players can save their work on a device. Nice!