Verbs for Kids-Part 1 is a free sample of a larger program designed to teach young children, English as a second language students, and those with special needs correct usage of English verbs.
- Animated 3-D illustrations
- Sound effects
- Accurate pronunciation
- 15 lessons in three modes
- Includes over 600 words and phrases
This is a quality app that works as intended. It is intuitive and easy to use, making it likely that the target audiences (young children, those who do not speak much English, and special needs students) could use the app independently with little preparation. The pictures are mostly clear illustrations of each verb or sentence, but a few could cause confusion when presented together in the “test mode.” For example, in the “test verb” mode for the word “hold,” a picture of a character holding an umbrella is presented with a character holding a tire as it is being changed on a car. While this differentiation is clear in the sentence mode, both characters are holding something. Also, the sound quality on this app is not as good as it could be. The narration, while clear, has a hollow sound to it, as though not recorded in a studio. In the App Store description, the developers indicate that the app does not need an active internet connection, but parents and teachers should be aware that a connection is needed on the first usage and when downloading the premium content. The app apparently needs to load content in a separate step after installation.
Verbs for Kids-Part 1 presents English verbs in word form, in sentences, and in a test format. There are fifteen lessons with three parts, each focused on four verbs in each section (a total of 180). The Verb mode shows the animated picture with the verb. The Sentence mode shows the animated picture with the verb in an applicable sentence. The Test mode (either verb level or sentence level) presents four flashcards and has users choose the one to match the narration. Parents and teachers will need to caution students that they must wait to click the advance arrow on each screen until the entire lesson has been shown; there is a pause between presentation of the additional flashcards that may cause some users to think that the lesson is complete but simply lagging.
One large concern with the app is the presentation of all of the verbs in sentences in the present progressive tense. While this is technically correct to describe the animated illustrations, it is not the most common construction in English, and is not typically used by beginning students or young children. No other tenses are used or taught. Most beginning students need present and past tenses in particular, and the app misses quite a bit of potential content by overlooking this.
I also have concerns about some of the “verbs” chosen for highlighting. The term is apparently used quite loosely by developers. For example, one of the verbs presented is “have a conflict” as in “They are having a conflict.” This is not language or construction that is likely in day-to-day speech, particularly for the populations targeted by this app. Other examples are “turn back” “take/claim” and “separate into.” While technically these are verb phrases, the developers would be on more sound educational ground if they had stuck to simpler verbs and incorporated more practice with common tenses.
This app has some truly delightful animated illustrations. There is a wide array of characters that move to illustrate the target verbs. This will clearly demonstrate the meanings of most of the verbs being taught. Between each lesson, a screen with floating balloons, bubbles, or balls appears and children can pop the items for as long as they wish before clicking the advance arrow. While this activity will be fun for most, it may not be particularly motivating time and again for most users.
Careful reading of the app’s description in the App Store does reveal that the free download includes only two of the fifteen lessons available, but it seems quite easy to miss in the lengthy text. Purchase of the additional thirteen lessons costs $3.99 as an in-app purchase. Developers may want to consider making that information more clear in the beginning of the description so that users are not disappointed (or angry) when they learn of the purchase requirement.
That being said, the price tag for the full version of the app is a bit high considering the educational benefits. There is a nice amount of additional content, but adult mentors, parents and teachers should be aware of the limitations of the app, such as exclusive use of the present progressive tense and the unusual vocabulary choices for some of the words.
This app is child-friendly. It does include an in-app purchase that pops up when users complete the second lesson. While this is a protected link, the gate is fairly simple to bypass (press and hold for three seconds), and it seems like it interrupts play. It would be better to embed this link in a parents area where young users or those with special needs would be less likely to stumble upon it. The app also includes a ratings pop-up.
- NO social media
- NO 3rd party ads
- YES in-app purchase visible to young users
- YES Ratings Pop Up
Verbs for Kids-Part 1 would be a useful tool to help students of English and perhaps special needs students hear examples of acceptable English grammar and pronunciation, as well as see clear animated illustrations of 180 verbs and sentences. It does have some flaws, however, and parents and teachers would be wise to check the app thoroughly before investing.