AppStore User Rating:
This app offers animated short stories focused on each of the five short vowel sounds. Children can watch the video or read with optional assistance, then practice reading the target words for each sound.
- Stories provide repetition of focus sound
- Video presentation for each story
- Reading mode offers optional assistance
- CVC pattern words
- Supplemental worksheets available
Vowel Stories for Beginning Readers: Short Sounds is a simple and easy to use app that will support young or struggling readers as they begin to learn about decoding. The app is easy to use, with clear directions and simple controls. Users have control over the level of support for reading, ranging from videos to printed sentences to words in isolation. The narrations are clear and well-voiced. The animations are simplistic, but they support the stories and are enjoyable.
This app makes a good tool to introduce the short vowel sounds to beginning readers, to review the sounds with young struggling readers, or to help ESL students practice their skills. Each story presents words containing the target vowel sound for users to hear or see. The video version has clear narration and good pacing. The read-along version features engaging animations and self-pacing. If a user gets stuck on a word, there is the option to have the page read aloud. It would be nicer if the read-aloud version also allowed users to touch a single word to hear it narrated, but the only option currently is to have the narrator read the entire page.
The Words section for each short vowel sound shows the target words from the story for users to practice reading on their own. Each word features highlighted vowels to call attention to the target letter. When a word is touched, it is read aloud for the child. In addition, developers offer companion worksheets available from their website.
While these activities are a great start for young students, the app would benefit from more interactive features, such as spelling words correctly, filling in the missing vowel sound, sorting words, or similar games. As it stands, this app is a nice introduction, but is likely to fade after a few uses since it has such limited interactivity compared to others on the market.
Vowel Stories for Beginning Readers: Short Sounds will entertain young students for a few passes through the content. Videos are generally popular fare for youngsters, and the read-aloud option will let readers practice on their own. However, the animation is relatively simplistic, including lots of pans and zooms in scenes as opposed to true animation. The stories also have little plot or depth, and sound exactly like what they are: strings of target words strung together to lace the text with words that have the correct vowel sound. It would be more interesting if there was truly a plot in each.
This app is a good, solid app to encourage young or struggling readers to practice reading, but it may not have the “staying power” of other apps on the market. It’s not too expensive, but unless there are several children coming up in the household, or it’s being used by many children in a classroom setting, parents should be aware that children may well lose interest fairly quickly after going through each section a time or two. It is worth noting, however, that developers offer companion worksheets from their website.
Vowel Stories for Beginning Readers: Short Sounds is very child-friendly. There are no outside advertisements, no links to social media or the internet, no email forms, and no direct connection the App Store or in-app purchases. Inactive social media links and web addresses will allow parents to access these connections if desired, but they will need to open a browser or app and type the information in manually.