Alphabet Aquarium App Review
Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Kids’ Rating: 4/5
Recommended Grades/Ages: Toddler, Preschool,
Skills Developed: Letter Names, Alphabet, Puzzles, Vocabulary, Capital Letters, Visual Matching Skills, First Words, Alphabet Storybook
Available On/Price: Universal (iPhone/iPod/iPad) – $1.99
Reviewed on: iPad
Alphabet Aquarium incorporates four colorful and diverse alphabet-based puzzles in a beach-themed learning environment. The full version of the app includes all of the letters from A to Z, and the free lite version includes only the letters A-E with the option to buy the full version via IAP.
The easy-to-use navigation lets your child pick any letter of the alphabet to learn with from the main menu, or she can move through the alphabet from start to finish. As each puzzle for the letter is completed, its bubble on the main menu is filled in to display progress.
In the Letters Puzzle your child is presented with puzzles pieces to put together to form the shape of the capital letter. The letter name is introduced, said every time a puzzle piece is selected, and announced again when the puzzle is completed.
Animals Puzzle starts with placing the capital letter into the puzzle and then assembling a cute baby animal that starts with the letter shown piece by piece. For the letter A an alligator is built. One colored silhouette is shown on the puzzle canvas and all the pieces are placed beneath it. Once the correct puzzle piece is placed, another silhouette will be shown until the puzzle is finished. Once filled in, an alphabet sentence is shown at the screen’s bottom and read aloud, “A is for Alligator’. The animal then animates and makes a cute sound effect.
The Sky Puzzle is named that way because the puzzle takes place in the clouds. 3 empty placeholders display the name of an object that starts with the target letter along with its shape. The three options show at the bottom of the screen. Your child taps and drags the right objects to the correct outlines in the clouds. Any time the items or clouds are tapped they say, “A is for Ambulance” etc. to help reinforce indirect phonetic association. Once all the pieces are placed all three object-name sentences are read.
When the tide casts four objects starting with the target letter on shore along with the letter itself, the Beach Puzzle begins. There are puzzle placeholders displaying the object names on the beach that say alphabet sentences when tapped, “A is for Acorn’. The letter simply says its own name. When taped and held the puzzle pieces also say these sentences. Once completed the entire puzzle page is read starting with “A” then moving onto all of the letter sentences.
The app includes a generous amount of positive verbal reinforcement to encourage children with each correct choice throughout all of the activities. The majority of incorrect choices are simply met with a mild sound effect and pieces returning to the bottom of the screen.
Throughout the app your child can continue to interact with the puzzles until she moves onto the next puzzle. The animals make sounds and reanimate when tapped, letter sentences are read, and letter names are said when tapped as appropriate.
The settings allow you to turn music and the ocean-based sound effects on and off independently and to clear game progress so another child can use the app. You can also turn on and off any of the four learning puzzles to suit your child’s preferences.
Other Notes: This full version of this app doesn’t include ads, external links, in-app purchases, or social media integration. The free lite version does include external links and in-app purchaes.
What We Liked:
Alphabet Aquarium is a charmingly interactive alphabet puzzle book. It includes so many different alphabet-based puzzles, 26 letters x 4 puzzles each = 104 alphabet oriented puzzles in all, it’s great for puzzle loving children who go through puzzle apps in a hurry!
Because it includes so much repetition of letter names, simple words that start with the letters of the alphabet, and bright, clear illustrations, this app also makes a great puzzle-driven alphabet storybook. It can be used as a first words vocabulary book.
I tried this app out with both my 2 and 4-year-old. My 2-year-old really enjoyed it; she’s our biggest puzzle builder on the iPads and the navigation was very simple for her to run independently. Her favorite part was building the animal puzzles and playing with the cute baby animals once they were finished – this is also the most challenging puzzle for little ones since it goes piece by piece (triggering more visual matching skills) instead of allowing free choice.
My 4-year-old (almost 5) was less excited about it, since the entire app was puzzle based, it was a bit repetitive for her, and she’s ready for more advanced apps that include tracing instead of just puzzle placements. I think this level of difficulty is best for toddlers and early preschool.
That being said, I always like options that let parents select which activities are included in the app’s rounds. If there is an activity that’s too hard or too easy for your child, you can remove it from the rotation.
What We Didn’t Like:
Like many alphabet books, this app doesn’t include explicit phonics and some of the puzzles include objects with both short and long letter sounds (like aquarium and airplane in the same puzzle). The letters never say their sounds, only their names, and the app is also upper case only.
Alphabet Aquarium is a bright and colorful puzzle-based alphabet app that contains a HUGE number of alphabet puzzles. With 4 different puzzle types there are 104 educational puzzles in all! With lots of alphabet words and sentences included, the app also makes a nice first-words alphabet storybook that’s driven by puzzle completion.
Have you downloaded this app? Let us know what our family thought in the comments section!