Last week we got asked by one of our client schools to find some decent phonics apps for the iPad. The reception teacher had been downloading lots of free apps, a couple paid for but found nothing of any use. So we asked the question on Twitter, we got quite a few responses and messages and we began to test some out.
We came across a range of apps from a company called Hip Hop Hen, they currently produce three phonics apps;
We instantly fell in love with them, the first teaches the phonemes through song, each phoneme has it’s own little song with animated video. These are fun for the children to learn, very memorable and reiterate the sound they need to learn. We couldn’t get some of them out of our head all day after playing. The child is presented with a choice of letters, they can go through in order or click on the phoneme they are learning this week in class. It has object on the page that they can click to hear the sound, along with the song for each letter. We found the app very engaging and also a fun way to learn.
The second is an outline of the letter that the child has selected, they then have various objects to drag in to make up the letter. Each one they touch reiterates the phoneme they are learning. Again this is fun and engaging but keeps the sound in the child’s head. Children love a challenge and when we placed the iPad in a child’s hand in reception it was an instant success. They didn’t need instruction they just knew what to do.
abc letter tracing (yes the lower case is intentional), gives two different variations of each letter for them to trace. It is brilliant for both fine motor skills and also obviously letter formation. As they are on an iPad a stylus type pen could be used should you want to improve on the fine motor skills or just their finger whichever you prefer.
We have taken the iPad loaded up with the apps into two different schools now, the reception teachers in both EYFS units fell in love instantly. But the proof really was in the pudding. They put the iPad on the table and told the children if they wanted to use the iPad today to play on these specific apps. The children were singing, others were waiting to have a go, this weeks sound “h” was learnt a lot faster and more successfully thanks to these apps.
We got in touch with Sophie Carter from Hip Hop Hen, the co-founder and asked her a couple of questions, a bit of background on her and the company, and where the company is planning to go next. She agreed to give us an interview which is below.
We asked for a bit of a background on Sophie and Daisy the other co-founder.
The co-founders of hip hop hen are passionate and dedicated teachers in the UK. Their aim is to raise the standard of early literacy education and give children the best possible start to learning letter sounds (phonics).
Sophie graduated from Durham University with a First Class Honours Degree in Combined Social Sciences. She then completed the Graduate Teacher Programme, qualifying with ‘outstanding’. Sophie taught in Early Years and Primary Education for 5 years. Sophie then joined a social-policy think-tank – The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) – to be their lead researcher on ‘educational failure’. Whilst Sophie was at the CSJ she further witnessed the blight of illiteracy in the UK.
Sophie left the CSJ to pursue her dream to create and publish a systematic, synthetic phonics reading scheme. Sophie has meticulously researched and written this ground-breaking scheme to engage children to read in a fun and highly achievable format.
Daisy studied and taught the Montessori teaching method before gaining a BA (Hons) in Early Years Education. Whilst teaching Reception, Daisy was quickly promoted to Head of Early Years. Daisy opened her first nursery school in 2006 after gaining the Early Years Professional Status. Due to popularity and a huge demand for places, Miss Daisy’s Nursery opened a second school in 2010 and a third school is due to open in 2014. The Miss Daisy’s Nursery School’s group are considered to offer the best possible care and learning environment for early years education in central London.
Daisy brings her expert experience, creativity and wide knowledge of primary education to hip hop hen.
Do you work with teachers for inspiration and try to solve problems they face through apps?