Monday, August 1, 2011

#AppMondayTAS - L'Escapadou apps - Word Wizard & Montessori Crosswords

UPDATE: Developer commented this afternoon that he will provide 3 more promo codes for Word Wizards (for a total of 5)!

Good morning! This week I am excited to share two great language arts apps by L'Escapadou that focus on developing children's phonics and spelling skills - Word Wizard and Montessori Crosswords. These apps develop children's literacy skills in an engaging way that makes it feel like they are just playing another fun game on the iPod Touch or iPad!

Released about two weeks ago, Word Wizard is the first educational app to use natural sounding text-to-speech voices to help children learn how to spell words! This app targets multiple skills - letter recognition, phonics (letter - sound matching), spelling, and sentence construction - through a multimodal approach using touch, sight, & sound. The Word Wizard app consist of two activities - Movable Alphabet and Spelling Quiz.

Overall Features:
  • Clean, simple interface
  • On-screen instructions are provided upon launching app for the first time
  • Customization (settings allow adjustment of interface/verbal feedback/voice, custom word lists, etc.)
Movable Alphabet:
  • Children are able to experiment with letter sounds, building words, & or even writing a sentence
  • Verbal feedback (choice of letter name or sound) helps children decide if a selected letter is in fact the letter they intended; add, rearrange, or remove letter(s) to hear how it changes the pronunciation of the word
  • Choice of having alphabet presented in either upper or lower case letters
  • Letters are color-coded (consonants & vowels)
  • Innovative text-to-speech engine reads whatever words children create - even if such words don't exist, providing another opportunity for self-correction
  • Spell checker highlights misspelled/unrecognized words
  • Choice of two voices (American or British)
  • Speed & tone of voice are adjustable (for added fun)
  • Grid or free placement modes with choice of two backgrounds
Spelling Quiz:
  • Choice of using built-in lists or creating your own custom lists
  • App comes preloaded with over 100 built-in word lists organized into categories (Dolch Words, 1000 Most Frequently Used Words, Colors, Shapes, Numbers, Body Parts, Clothes, Family Members, Animals, Foods, Sports, & Nature). These lists are locked & cannot be edited.
  • Word lists can be arranged in folders
  • Same options for customization as in the Movable Alphabet.
  • Words/phrases/sentences are presented verbally for child to spell
  • Buttons at top to either hear the word again or be given a hint (provides spelling letter-by-letter)
  • Visual reinforcement (simple animation) is provided when a word is spelled correctly
  • Once a quiz is completed, a report is displayed and fun, interactive animations featuring multi-touch are presented as a reward.
Suggestions for Improvement:
  • Allow muting of background sound
  • Make on-screen help easily accessible after initial launch
  • Optional password-protection of settings panel, so children can't easily access
  • Additional voices (including a child)
  • Movable Alphabet: 1. Add other basic punctuation marks (question mark, exclamation point, etc.) to the alphabet grid. 2. Add a PRINT button (with option to hide), so that children could print the words/sentence that they write
  • Spelling Quiz: 1. Ability to copy & edit built-in word lists. 2. Ability to backup and/or share custom word lists online (preferred) or via iTunes software. 3. Option of exporting/emailing results to parent/teacher. 4. Option for parent/teacher to record the words using their own voice (more familiar to the child/student).
Cost: $2.99 (Universal)


Fun app to help children develop their reading, spelling, and writing skills using the proven Montessori learning method.

  • Clean, simple user interface
  • 300 word-image-audio-phonics combinations appropriate for ages 3/4 to 8 years old
  • Choose words according to difficulty (3 levels of phonics difficulty appropriate for ages 3 to 8 as defined by the Montessori method). Level 1 displays simple words (with 3 sounds & only short vowels) one at a time for beginning readers. Levels 2 (words with consonant blends) & 3 (words of any complexity) automatically create single or multi-word crosswords using tens of thousands of different word combinations.
  • Specialized phonics approach; focus on single letter sound, or phonic, & present only words containing that sound (44 categories)
  • Tap on letters in the alphabet to hear letter sounds/phonics
  • Child can touch the white rectangles where they must place letters to hear the individual phonics sounds within the word. The phonics sounds are chosen/played according the words displayed, so they are always correct.
  • All phonics sounds supported: long & short vowels, consonant digraphs (like "th"), & even silent letters.
  • Phonics-enabled, Movable Alphabet - allows for open-ended activities using letters
  • Choice of displaying alphabet using upper, lower-case, or cursive letters
  • Children can play independently or with adult support. Includes instructions on how to use the game as an educational tool (click the Parent Tips button on main menu).
  • 21 color, fun, & interactive visual effects are displayed as reinforcement when a word is complete. These visual effects animate & change as they react to the child's touch!
  • Developer has updated this app regularly (3 times) since it was released.
  • Also available as a Mac App, so child could play the same game using the computer.
Suggestions for Improvement:
  • Option to mute background noise
  • Main menu: Move "Contact Us", "Share", & "Other Apps" buttons onto the "Parents Tips" screen and rename to "for Parents/Teachers".
  • In settings, add option to hide/remove "tips" on activities
  • Customization - ability to add more words, use custom photos, and record using own voice
  • Moveable Alphabet: 1. Add ability to select/read by word (by using a swipe gesture?). 2. Ability to erase/remove letters by dragging back down onto the alphabet (like in Word Wizard) rather than using the trashcan. 3. Add a screen capture/print button.
  • Data collection with option of exporting/emailing results to parent/teacher

Cost: $2.99 (Universal)


L'Escapadou is a family design studio that is dedicated to creating fun, creative, entertaining, and educational apps for kids. They are a homeschooling family with two daughters, 4 and 7 years old. Their apps are inspired by the Montessori Method, as they believe creativity is essential to a kid's development and well-being. App development is a team effort for this family! The mom and dad work together on the design and graphics, dad does the programming, and their daughters do the testing.

L'Escapadou is a member of Moms With Apps.


The developer have provided us with 2 promo codes for Word Wizards and 5 promo codes for Montessori Crosswords to giveaway to active followers and readers of the Teaching All Students blog. You can enter to win a promo code by doing the following:

1. Comment below on this post.
Please state which app (Word Wizards or Montessori Crosswords) you would like to win.

2. Tweet the following: "RT @techieteacher - @lescapadou Montessori-based phonics/spelling apps #AppMondayTAS - win promo codes
#teachingall #IEAR #edapp" AND comment below letting us know you have retweeted & which app (Word Wizards or Montessori Crosswords) you would like to win.

3. Like Teaching All Students AND L'Escapadou on Facebook. Leave a comment on either Facebook page about this giveaway & state which app (Word Wizards or Montessori Crosswords) you would like to win.

If you choose to do all 3, you will be entered 3 times. Winners will be announced sometime on Friday. Good luck!

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