Matching! My First Brain Training is a readiness app that provides preschoolers with opportunities to learn to match colors, numbers, and letters. It includes three identification activities and a game that requires players to match based on three attributes. The app can be played in four different languages.
Hear native speakers voice names of letters, numbers, colors
Play in four different languages
Focus separately on learning names of each group of items
Choose which items to review in any order
Includes 26 English letters, ten numbers and eleven colors
Matching! My First Brain Training is a high quality app that performs well. The app is relatively intuitive to use, so even young children should be able to operate it. The narration is clear, but does use British English, so there are some slight differences in pronunciation and letter names (“zed” for zee, and “zebra” with a short e, for example) in the English version. The illustrations are colorful, and mostly clear and easily recognizable. One concern is the “peanut” which shows a peanut that has been cracked open. The top half of the shell is laying beside the shell with the nuts, and it looks like there are two items in the picture. This could be confusing to young children when they need to count the items in the picture. The app could also be improved by including a protected parents’ area that gives clear instructions and the capabilities of the app.
Matching! My First Brain Training is designed to help children from ages 2 to 6 learn to identify and match letters, numbers and colors in any of four languages. The app includes four sections. The letter, number and color sections show the target item and will voice its name when the item or the illustration are touched. So the letter P page shows a capital and lower case P, a pear and the word pear in both capital and lower case forms. When any of these things are touched, the narrator verbalizes “P, pear.” As far as I could tell, the illustrative pictures paired with each letter are consistent, so the app only shows one example per letter in this mode. There is a ribbon at the top of the screen that allows users to choose which letter, color or number to hear next.
Touching the dice will lead users to the app’s game. The game displays a three attribute sorter and three choices. Children activate the sorter in similar fashion to a slot machine, by sliding a lever that rolls each of the three sections to a random selection (one color, one number and one letter). The child must then choose from the options at the bottom of the screen to select the option that matches all three attributes. For example, on one trial, the selector landed on brown, F and 10. The three options showed 10 brown donkeys, 10 brown foxes, and 2 orange fish. The correct response was the 10 brown foxes because that matched all three attributes.
One large concern about this app is that most young children have a great deal of difficulty with considering multiple attributes at the same time. This is demonstrated in the common Piagetian experiment where a young child is shown two identical balls of clay and pronounces them to be the same. Yet, when the adult rolls one ball into a snake shape in front of the child, the child invariably will pronounce the long skinny formation of clay to be “bigger” than the ball. This is because the child is capable of only considering one attribute at a time at this stage of development. Of course, children figure out how to think about multiple attributes eventually, typically between the ages of 4 and 7. The concern is that this app does not have any scaffolding to help children learn to consider more than one idea at a time, but just sort of assumes they will be able to do this. Younger children are quite likely, even if they do recognize the color, letter and number desired, to have difficulty understanding that the 10 brown donkeys in the example above are less correct than the 10 brown foxes, because of the initial letter. The app also uses multiple pictures to represent initial sounds at this stage, and these don’t seem to have been introduced elsewhere. This could prove quite challenging for the target audience, as well.
This app is colorful, but there’s not much else to catch the eye of young users. Developers should consider adding some memorable animations and sound effects to make things more engaging. Also, in the game section, correct answers are rewarded with a green check mark and incorrect responses are noted with an X. It’s quite possible for a user within the stated age range to be unaware of the symbolism of these things! It would be better if correct responses were rewarded in more obvious ways, and it might help younger users if incorrect responses disappeared after selection and allowed the child to choose from the remaining two selections.
Though the app has a reasonable price in the App Store ($1.99), it might be limited in its use within the given age range. Also, youngsters may tire of it quickly, since it does not include many features that preschoolers would find engaging and the task might be somewhat frustrating.
Matching! My First Brain Training offers children the opportunity to see and hear letters, numbers, and colors in four languages, then play a matching game based on choosing a response that includes the targeted three attributes. The game seems difficult for young children, and could use some tweaks to make it more entertaining.