This fun digital storybook under the category "Education" is interactive in a way that not only makes reading fun, but reinforces spelling, reading and sight words. The 'lettermen' themselves are simple but engaging cartoon letters with hands and feet. They are very appealing to kids and have great expressions that match the words they are forming on each page. This tale has the 'lettermen' going shopping. The narration is a British English speaker and is crisp and clear.
The Lettermen was a series of books created in the late 1980's by Roger Knights. This book was published in print in 1993. According to the information page in the book, "It was never intended to be an educational system or a challenge to any established teaching methods, but both parents and teachers have found that the simple Lettermen stories are useful in showing children how letters form words and words have meanings."
This book has simple settings (tap on the bottom to see them). Page turning 'hands' appear in the upper right and left corners of each page. Tap on the middle 'hand' on the top of any page to trigger the interactive game. The child then needs to touch and drag the lettermen into the right order to spell the word(s) from the page. The word itself appears on the screen as a guide. A small hand on the bottom in the middle lets you quickly exit the game, although it is sometimes hard to see with all the letters bouncing about.
The controls, while plentiful, are very touchy. Once you and your child get used to them, this book series is a great edition to any educational e-library for young readers. Just avoid touching the little hands at the top and bottom of the page except when you want to start or end the spelling game on each page. These books are also plentiful and well priced - they have 6 books out now and 18 more on their way to the Apple app store, plus plans for the Android market.
The spelling game portion of the app is a lot of fun and reinforces the storyline and a different word or phrase on each page. Touch and drag the letters and watch them bounce, but be aware that they are very difficult to get to 'stick' in the right spot. Even when I had them in the right order for a moment, one would spring away from the others. They click into place if you keep trying and when the whole word or phrase has been spelled properly, it says "well done" (spelled out in 'lettermen'). This could be improved with a future update to this otherwise great series of books.
Even without the game, this storybook is perfectly delightful as a standalone app book. And it's particularly nice looking on the iPad, which shows off the fun lettermen and their crazy expressions much better that the small screen ever could. The illustrations are engaging, enhance reading comprehension and recognition of 'sight' words.
[There are six apps currently available in this digital series and the youtube video below is of The Lettermen go to a party on iPad.]
All reviews are of the app, not the platform/device. Based originally on iPad versions. Minor technical details may vary.
SN Squared Limited
12 - 20 Minutes
Based on non-digital book: Yes
Allows Own Narration:
Uses Motion: No
Age: 3 - 6 +
The Lettermen go to the shops in this tale about anthropomorphized letter-guys. First the Lettermen discover that their cupboards are EMPTY, so they TALK about what to do for hours. “LET'S GO,” they finally say, and they're off to the supermarket. They RIDE in the cart while one of them has to PUSH. Then they split up the list, but everyone arrives with the same item, sausages, and they have TOO MANY. Then they decide to push the cart very FAST, until they CRASH into a stack of cans. The store manager makes them PICK UP the cans before they PAY. Then they stop for PIZZA and each of them also has a sticky BUN. The last item on their list is APPLES, so once they are done they can LOOK to see if they have any more money. Their bags are now FULL, so they go home, spending their last coins on some candy.
[Words above in caps are also part of the spelling activity in the book.]