Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Intro to Reading by Oz Phonics app

Learning to read should be a fun activity, and that is what Oz Phonics has done with their Intro to Reading app. This first app in their series gives you six different activities to complete starting off with a very basic activity and moving up to a test. I particularly like this app, as it allows you to change the accent, which really does make a difference when you do not live in America. You can choose from: American, Australian, British or New Zealand accents.

If you would like to download Intro to Reading by Oz Phonics ($1.99, iPad Only), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using our link:


To start off, the first activity warm up is a great sound matching game that your child can play. It’s a memory game and uses different animal sounds. The object of the game is to match the pairs. This could also be helpful if you are working on any auditory skills, as it will get your child to listen for the differences in sounds. You can choose between 4, 6 and 8 pairs to match, allowing you to choose the difficulty and increase it according to your child’s development through the app.

Once you feel your child has mastered the warm up, you can move into the next activity which matches letter sounds. Again, you can choose between 4, 6 and 8 pairs, allowing you to set the pace according to your child. It also uses the letter sounds as opposed to the letter names, which will allow your child to hear the sounds at the beginning of the words later on.

The next activity is not so much of an activity as it is a learning opportunity. You can choose whether you would like the app to show uppercase or lowercase letters, and when you touch the letter it will tell you the sound. I really like the idea of being able to choose which case you would like to use, and you can change it later on to allow your child a challenge.

Moving smoothly on from the previous activity, your child now gets to test how much they have learned in the sound to letter activity. I really enjoy the interactive nature of this activity, as it tells you the sound and you need to touch the correct letter. If you get it correct, the crocodile eats the letter or the bird takes it away.

The last activity before the test is making words. Your child will hear a word and then needs to tap on the different sounds. It tells you the sounds you need at this stage, but then gives you a picture with the word, so you can review it with your child.

Once your child has developed all the skills in the app, they are then able to complete the test. Here, you are given a sheet of words, listen for a word and tap on the correct word. These are all three letter words, so the app does not jump the gun and allows for easy progress.

The developers have also created another 3 apps which all follow on from this intro one. I really enjoy the smoothness of the development throughout the app and the settings they have allowed, which in turn, allow you to adapt the app to your individual child. The app, however, can be a little repetitive, and constantly reminds you of the sound you are looking for, which is great if your child struggles a little with auditory skills but may be a little distracting for other children.

From iTunes:
Interested in teaching your child to read, or helping an adult struggling with reading? This app introduces the Oz Phonics reading system. Available in American, British, Australian and New Zealand accents. See video demo on
American accent demo:
Australian accent demo:

Do I need to help my child with this app?
Once your child understands the games/exercises in this app they can play them without help. We do, however, think that adult interest in the learning to read process is invaluable. It will benefit your child if you understand how the system works and you may well learn new things that will surprise you.

This app introduces 15 letter/sound relationships. Short vowel sounds /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/ and 10 consonant sounds for letters c, d, g, h, l, m, n, r, s, t. More sounds are introduced in our other apps.

Exercises in this app

Warm Up - This is a simple matching game with a difference: animal sounds, not pictures. This is to train your child in the first reading and spelling skill – listening. Two friendly ‘long-tongue’ lizards help by removing matched sounds.

Sound Match - OK! Your child is now ready to start listening to and matching some of the actual sounds of the English language. Being able to differentiate between sounds and match identical ones is fundamental to the reading and spelling process.

Now your child needs to learn the alphabetic principle, which is hearing a sound and knowing which letter make it, and the reverse, see a letter and knowing what sound it makes. The later is called decoding and will provide your child with the skills required for working out new words.

Sound-to-Letter - Once your child can identify individual sounds, they need to learn how these sounds are written down. A crocodile and bird provide a few surprises here.

Letter-to-Sound - Now we’re reversing the order – your child needs to know what sounds the written letters make. They can also learn capital letters by a simple touch.

Making Words – Words are made up of one sound after another. This illustrated, guided exercise will help your child put together words from the sounds/letters they have learnt in earlier exercises.

Word Test – See how many words your child can read using the Oz Phonics method.

Who can use this app:
-Parents who want to teach their children to read.
-school age children who are struggling to learn to read at school. Check that they know their sounds, particularly the vowel sounds (not the letter names).
-Parents who want a better understanding of phonics. If your child is not a “natural reader” then improving your own understanding of phonics can greatly improve your chance of helping them.
-Dyslexic children and adults who struggle with reading. Phonics has been shown to be particularly effective for teaching dyslexics.
-ESL (English as a Second Language) students. The sounds of English differ from other languages and in order for ESL students to make themselves understood, they first need to become aware of the sounds they’ve never spoken in their mother tongue, and to practice making these sounds themselves.

Vicky Lamb is a guest blogger for Smart Apps for Special Needs, but she regularly blogs at Two Proudly South African Teachers.  Check her out there.

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