A few days ago I met via e-mail Bobby George, one of the founders of Montessorium. Sounds like Montessori right? If you’re not familiar, Montessori a revolutionary method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Think education plus natural play. Which is why I was so thrilled at the opportunity to review their three applications available for the ipad: Alpha Writer, Intro to Math, and Intro to Letters.
Let me first start off by saying the aesthetic quality of these apps is impressive. Simple, clean design, and not too overstimulating for children. The illustrations are so lovely, which is not surprising since Alpha Writer was illustrated by none other than Zeptonn, a talented freelance Illustrative Designer from the Netherlands.
The apps are priced around $5 each, and all have been developed teaching official Montessori practices and methods.
Let’s start with Alpha Writer.
Alpha Writer is a learning application that helps kids develop letter sounds and teaches them how to form words using different combined letter sounds. The app has two categories, one where you spell words after seeing a picture of the word and hearing it spoken, and another where kids use letters and images to write a story of their own. My kids were especially excited that they could save their stories as photo files on our ipad.
My favorite thing about the app was that my kids could physically manipulate the letters onscreen in any placement they desired. Unlike many spelling and pre-reading apps, there were no set place marks for the letters to fall. They could move them around in any placement they liked, allowing for more creativity in their word creations. With my guidance we sounded out each word they created, allowing them to decipher if the word sounded correct. My kids favored the story writing capability, and loved the option of placing images all over the page. At one point my son place a picture of a mouth on the screen, enlarged it, and pretended to fill the mouth with just about every other picture available. All three kids were laughing hysterically as the mouth “devoured” pictures of a fox, hat, sun, moon, and more and more.
Overall, I was very pleased with the educational value and ease of use of this application. The only downside I found was the arrow to return to the main menu was small, and my kids at first had a difficult time finding it. Besides that, the application is everything I would hope for in an educational game and program for my children.
Intro to Math
Also based on Montessori style learning, Intro to Math is an Introduction to how numbers work, and exploring the beginning steps of addition. The app introduces basic mathematical fundamentals while your child enjoys colorful and engaging puzzles, learns the shapes of numbers, and can easily be navigated by children who are not yet reading.
What struck me at first with this application, was the similarity to the Touch Point based math that is so commonly used with special needs children. In fact, children with autism often use visual cues to develop basic math skills when learning addition and subtraction, as it is a proven beneficial multi-sensory approach. Though this program differed, it has some very similar visual components. I am very curious how this app would benefit children with special developmental needs, and would love to see it implemented in special ed classrooms.
Overall, my kids loved this app. My youngest daughter, who is three, has never previously expressed interest in learning written numbers. She thoroughly enjoyed tracing numbers on the screen, and counting along with the addition based games.
The last app I reviewed by Montesorrium was Intro to Letters.
Based on the Montessori activity known as Sand Paper Letters, this apps activities utilize sight, sound, and touch to help kids learn letters. They also learn the correct method of creating them. Impressively, the entire app can be navigated by a child who does not know how to read.
This app is more bare bones, focusing on just letters. I was worried at first about the lack of characters and illustrations, but my children found the narrative voice pleasing and overall loved the straight forward colors and backgrounds.
My kids favorite part about this app was being able to record their own voice with the Sounds Cards. My first grader also loved being able to practice tracing letters, a task she was quickly tiring of in her nightly homework.
I did notice two things in the letter tracing section, the letter Y seemed confusing to my daughter. Trying it myself, it seemed to not trace in the appropriate direction. Also, the letter T is curved on the bottom, which is not traditionally taught in beginning writing. Of the three apps I tested, this one seemed to get the least amount of attention, but overall I was very pleased with the educational aspects and overall design.
So what grade does Tech4Moms give to Montessorium and it’s three Montessori style apps?
Great job guys! I would highly recommended purchasing these apps for young children.
Thanks again to the crew at Montessorium for letting me review these programs. It was so refreshing to try out applications that were educational, aesthetically pleasing, and well designed.
If you want to learn more about these apps for kids, you can visit the Montessorium website here.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Natalie Wright is a contributing writer at Organized Mom and Tech4Moms. You can also find her DIY blog online at natalme.com.