When I was younger, I only read a handful of children books. I was not familiar with Richard Scarry, but through my research I learned that he was a popular children’s author and illustrator who published over 300 books throughout his lifetime.
His most famous books were about Busytown. Richard wrote several books surrounding this imaginary town filled with anthropomorphic animals, but the two that really defined the series were Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town and Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.
Both books influenced the app that I picked for today’s review: Words that Go with Richard Scarry's Busytown Cars. It’s a Universal app in which juniors learn to combine letters into words using various wacky cars seen in Busytown, including the apple van, the pickle car, Dingo’s red car, and even Officer Flossy’s police bike. In total, there are 40 unique vehicles introduced in this app.
Five Playing Modes
When you start the app for the first time, you will be playing Level 1. In this level you get to see all 40 unique vehicles take turn passing through a red light in Busytown. You will be asked to recognize and match letters to build a corresponding word. For example when a carrot car appears, the letters C-A-R-R-O-T will show up and you need to drag them to their appropriate placeholders. Once you have put all the letters in their correct places the narrator will announce the vehicle’s name, and a new vehicle will take its place.
If your juniors are able to do this you can move on to any of the next levels by tapping on the information icon located on the top left corner of the screen. When the icon moves to the top center portion of the screen, tap it again to bring up a new screen. Finally, tap on the "Tap Here" text to enter the parents section. Based on my experience, this is a solid safeguard against accidental taps by little fingers.
Once in the parents section, you can choose to jump to any of the five difficulty levels. Some levels use phonics, while others use ABCs. Below are brief descriptions for the levels:
- Level 2. Just like in the first level, here juniors are asked to match letters to form a word, only this time they have to place the letters in succession. There is a transparent overlay over the placeholders to assist them.
- Level 3. This level uses phonics. Your juniors still need to match the letters from left to right. If you tap on the empty placeholders you can hear phonics and see the corresponding tiles jiggle as a visual indicator.
- Level 4. Starting this level your juniors won’t have any visual indicators to help them. The placeholders no longer have transparent letters in them and the letters no longer jiggle when the corresponding placeholder is tapped. You’d still hear the phonics of the required letters, though.
- Level 5. This level is similar to the previous level except that it uses ABCs instead of phonics to spell out the letters.
Parents Need to Know
The app has adjustable difficulty levels that make it perfect for juniors in a wide age range. You can even choose whether the app should show letters in uppercase or lowercase. Just keep in mind that the vocabulary introduced in this app is still limited even though there seems to be plenty of vehicles to go around. Nevertheless, your juniors will enjoy the entire learning process, which is all that matters.
You should also know that the ABC mode and phonics mode are slightly different. In phonics mode the developers only use sight words or other words that are easy to spell using the phonics system, like red, ant, bus, bug, milk, egg, hat, and dog. The developers even decided to replace some words with their simpler versions, such as nut for peanut, and cab for taxi.
Things I Like
I really like some details that the developers have put into this app. One example is how the lights slowly turn to yellow and then red when a new vehicle approaches. They will turn to green once you have completed a word. Another example is Officer Flossy’s relentless pursuit of Dingo’s fast red car throughout each level. He finally catches him at the end of the level.
I also really appreciate Richard Scarry’s wacky cars creations. I think they fit nicely with children’s imaginative nature. I introduced the app to both my sons the other day, and when we went out to eat they loved pointing out colorful cars that passed by the restaurant, just like in the app. Maybe next time, I will show them footages from the world’s most creative street carnivals.
Words that Go with Richard Scarry’s Busytown Cars is a fun app that can aid early readers in practicing their spelling. Even if your juniors are not familiar with the books, I believe they’d still enjoy playing with the app.
Get Words that Go with Richard Scarry’s Busytown Cars on the App Store.
Thanks to the team at Learning Touch for sharing the app with us. The app has exposed me to Richard Scarry’s great works and inspired me to be more creative and imaginative for our next parent-juniors activities.