We've seen a handful of alphabet apps on Geeks With Juniors. In fact, if you were to search for "alphabet apps" on the App Store today, you would end up with over 2,000 of them. With so much competition going on, how does one app stand out from the crowd? Wee Alphas does it by being fun, silly and extremely stylish.
A is for Awesome
Wee Alphas is an iPad app designed to aid your juniors learn about alphabets and animals. The app is laid out as an interactive storybook, where each page depicts a letter in the alphabet, an illustration of an animal whose name starts with that letter and a short story about that animal.
While the theme of the app maybe cliché, the app breaks out of the box with its unique implementation. While other apps tend to put the letters in plain sight, Wee Alphas cleverly hides them in the illustrations. When you tap on the hidden letter, it turns bright orange while the rest of the page dims.
In addition to letters, the app also hides simple animations and cute sound effects in each illustration. Many of these are easily triggered by tapping, but several scenes take it up a notch by involving device tilting.
A narrator accompanies your juniors by reading out the mini stories in each page. Only one sentence long, they describe silly activities that the animals do. Many of the stories are alliterative to highlight the current letter being discussed. The names of the animals also reflect this goal; throughout the app, you'll meet names like Eli the Elephant or Ulysses the Unicorn.
To move onto the next puzzle, your junior can tap on the left and right arrow. Once your junior has gone from A to Z, the app will ask him to choose a letter that he considers special out of all the alphabets. He can then learn to write his chosen letter by tracing its outline.
Parents Need to Know
Wee Alphas is a unique app that encourages inquisitiveness by choosing to hide the letters within the illustrations. For artistic purposes, some letters do not always appear the right side up, so extra guidance may be needed for juniors who are only starting to recognize alphabets.
The app is very simplistic about its design approach. It is not possible for juniors to skip to a specific letter when playing. In other words, you have to play from A to Z, in that order, before being able to access the tracing page.
In each page, Wee Alphas includes a story about the animal in the illustration. These stories are quirky and quite unusual for a children's app. For instance, you'll see a Fox who writes "flippant film critics" and a Panda who likes to pop n' lock. That said, the vocabularies introduced in the app maybe difficult for your juniors to understand, so I would advise accompanying them when using the app.
Visually, the app has a nice, clean interface. A Settings/Help menu is accessible by double tapping on a strategically placed button on the top right. As parents, you can choose to turn off narration and music from this menu. There is also a simple guide to use the app should you need it.
What I liked about the app
I've tried some great alphabet/animal apps before--Eric made a list of them here--but Wee Alpha is unlike any other. Brought to you by the same team who previously worked with big names like Google and Disney, the app is highly polished and just a joy to use.
First of all, the illustration is gorgeous. I love the use of simplistic layout combined with big, bold fonts to create a design that is pleasing to the eyes and easy to use.
The choice of animals are great, and I have yet to see some of them, like yeti and xenops, in other apps. The whimsical stories that accompany the animals will amuse both parents and juniors; have you ever heard of an impala who imagines deep sea diving? Me neither.
Another fun thing about the app is the hidden animation in each page. My personal favorite is Violet the Vulture, whose hairstyle changes from braids to pigtails to beehives each time you tap on her.
Last but not least, there is also the music. Composed by indie rock band Rabbit!, the background music in Wee Alphas is upbeat, fresh and suitable with the theme of the app. It also doesn't annoy you when played continuously for hours, which is always a huge plus for me.
Wee Alphas is a fun, gorgeous and unique app that you really must add to your collection. I know we've had some great alphabet/animal apps reviewed on the site, but this one truly deserves a look for its interesting approach in an otherwise common category. If you want your juniors to use only high quality apps for learning alphabets, then you need to get Wee Alphas.
Get Wee Alphas on the App Store.