Teach your Monster to Read has been built by the Usborne Foundation and it aims to do just that, teach your children to read via interactions with a customisable monster through the use of phonics.
It’s good, very good, the fundamental structure deployed in Teach Your Monster to Read is brilliantly conceived and exceptionally well researched, this is the very least one would expect from such a trusted and respected organisation.
It works like this, you build a little monster through a nice and simple customisation interface and then off you go on your adventures in your sparkling space ship, only it takes a rather hard landing on a magical planet and needs repair with the help of various ‘Kings’ of strange islands (eight to be exact) on said magical planet.
Each island king can repair a specific part of the spacecraft if a set of given letters can be ‘found’ through the playing of five ‘unlockable’ mini-games. This is where the genius of the phonics curriculum comes in as you work your way through finding letter sets for each king. There are 31 letters sets in total. Completing a game and collecting the letter unlocks the mini-games for future use at any time.
There is a lot of content here, days or even weeks of play before the end is reached, all well-paced and nicely designed. It’s a colourful world and with the voice of Simon Farnby of Horrible Histories fame it all comes together very well.
There are only a few minor things to note: the difficulty of some of the game control mechanisms for the very young (the rocket game proved particularly tricky to master during an impromptu focus group whilst writing this review); no multi-user profiles (this one, in particular, is a bit of a miss with apps like this); and the lack of retina screen quality display which makes it look a bit jagged on the iPad Air.
Teach Your Monster To Read is, as an education phonics tool, brilliantly crafted and very well put together. The very same content in the app, which you do have to pay for, is available over at the Teach Your Monster To Read website for free so might be worth popping over there and giving it a go before downloading the app.
Ben Simpson is CEO & Founder of Box of Frogs Media