Monday, August 21, 2017

Phonics Museum App

Our family loves the Veritas Press Bible programs, so when we had the opportunity to review for the company again, I was excited. They offer materials for much more than Bible classes though, and this time, we we've been learning with their new Phonics Museum App.

Veritas Press was created by Marlin and Laurie Detweiler as a way to give their own children a classical education. After their curricula worked so well for their family, they wanted to make it available to other like-minded parents, as well. Since then, the company has grown to offer full curriculum, a publishing company, an online classical Christian academy, and two classical Christian schools. 

The Phonics Museum App is a multi-sensory program that teaches kids to read in a fun, engaging way. The student joins William and Wendy on an adventure through an art museum. Percival, a walking-talking suit of armor guides and encourages them as they look at the paintings, learn their letters, and discover that art can be exciting. They are then introduced to Miss Biddle, the quirky museum curator, as she leads the lessons. She's animated during some of the games and activities, but "comes to life" as she teaches the lessons to the student. Like the other materials from Veritas Press, this app follows the Classical Approach of learning, and not only teaches letters and sounds, but includes bit of information about artists and their works, inventions, history, nature, and more. 

The app was designed for early-readers in the 3-7 year age range, so it contains over 900 games, videos, interactions, real teaching, and memory songs to keep little ones engaged. A typical lesson has around 11 stages.  It always starts and ends with a video and has other activities throughout. For example, it might follow this format: video, song, video, game, video, game, video, game, video, game, video. A student must complete each stage of the lesson before he can move to the next, and he can see what each lesson contains by looking at the numbered easels with the appropriate icons. Sometimes the videos are simply Miss Biddle announcing the next activity, but mostly they are filled with teaching and silliness.  

The Phonics Museum believes in "edutainment," meaning games and learning collide and children don't even realize it. That's why there are 22 games that not only will the student enjoy, but also will learn to read while playing them. The games reinforce the learning by encouraging the student to recognize the individual letters--both upper and lower case along with both printed and written versions--and their sounds. The games are simple, but cute. There is a chipmunk that eats nuts, a frog that catches flies with his tongue, birds that happily splash in a bird bath, a catapult that launches paintballs that decorate the castle, and many more.  

One thing that I appreciate about the teaching is that for the games that focus on the sounds, there is a slight emphasis on the specific letter that is being reviewed. For example, during an M game, the student is supposed to touch the sarcophagus when Miss Biddle says the words that begin with the M sound. Mmustache. Boy. Penny. Mmoose. There is that slight emphasis on the /m/ to trigger the sound for the student. It is not overly done and the student himself might not even recognize it, but subtly it helps.   

My kindergartner is learning to read, so this app came at the perfect time. He loves watching the videos, playing the games, and reading the simple books. He adores Miss Biddle. Seriously, she must be the cutest teacher ever with her bold dress covered in letters, ribbons in her hair, her quirkiness, and her charming personality. She's a bit like Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus, but not quite as eccentric and without the transforming bus. Many times I catch even my older kids watching the videos and laughing at the silliness. 

The museum contains 10 floors of interactive fun. The paintings come alive, the characters are silly, and the whole experience is fun. Most importantly though, it helps kids learn their letters and sounds--and ultimately how to put those together to make words--with a solid phonics-based program. I'm excited to watch my little one learn and explore with the Phonics Museum.  

The Phonics Museum App is available through iTunes. It is a complete curriculum on its own, but since it is a spin-off of the physical version, it can also be used as a complimentary aid. If you'd like to see the app in action, there is an informational video on the website.

You can connect with Veritas Press on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this app on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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