Over the past two weeks, I reviewed a couple of great apps to learn to write: Writing Wizard and Intro to Cursive. Both of them are suitable for juniors ages 4-8. Today, I will highlight a brand new app that aims to help juniors ages 2-3 practice basic letter tracing: Gappy's Mystery Letters.
Follow the Stars and Unlock Coloring Pages
Mystery Letters is the second app that features Gappy. His first, Gappy’s First Words, focuses on helping juniors learn about spelling and sight words. While Mystery Letters is released after First Words, I believe it should be played before it.
The app has three playing modes. If you’re playing it for the first time, I’d suggest starting with the largest button on the right hand side. In this mode, the app will show you a random letter that you need to trace in order to unlock a coloring page featuring an object represented by that letter.
For example, my first letter was a lowercase E. The narrator first asked me to follow the magic star that moves along a certain path. By tracing the star movement, my finger created the shape of the lowercase E. Then, the narrator asked me to identify the letter that I just traced from an option of eight stickers. After I identified the matching sticker, the app showed me an object associated with the letter E: an elephant.
Next, the app showed a lowercase E with stars spread out in a path. I just needed to collect the stars to trace the letter, afterwards the app unlocked a coloring page featuring an elephant.
After unlocking a coloring page, you can either play the next random letter or choose drawing and coloring mode. There are 52 coloring pages to unlock: one for each uppercase and lowercase letter of the alphabet.
You can also switch to coloring mode from the main menu. Simply tap the Home button, and then select the button with a pencil icon. In this mode, you can play with three colorful pencils of different sizes. You can also take a snapshot of your drawing or switch to any of your unlocked coloring pages at any time without losing your progress in tracing.
The third and final mode in Gappy’s Mystery Letters is practice mode. It contains all 52 uppercase and lowercase letters. After you choose one, the app will show the letter with stars spread out in a path. Similar to the first mode, simply trace the path and collect the stars.
Parents Need to Know
What makes a good writing app is its ability to motivate juniors to practice. Gappy’s Mystery Letters entices juniors to follow and collect stars, which makes writing easier and more fun. The app’s encouraging narration also helps differentiate it from other tracing apps.
The app is nicely designed for juniors ages 3 or under with its big letters. The app also allows kids to learn about letter names, letter sounds, and simple words like M for Mask, T for Toad, and U for Upside down. It even includes three handwriting styles to practice with.
Things I Like
I like the way Gappy’s Mystery Letters entices you to practice by spreading out stars in a path. While the app doesn’t force you to stay on a path, it won’t move forward to the next tracing path unless you collect all the stars. The sound effects that are triggered each time a star is collected is so fulfilling that juniors would want to collect all the stars.
The second thing I appreciate is the design of the app’s Parental Gate. Most apps usually use either two-finger swipe or a spelling test/passcode, but juniors who are already familiar with sight words would be able to bypass these. Gappy’s Mystery Letters uses verbose instructions, such as “tapping one of five buttons for three seconds”. Hopefully that would keep little hands away from the Parent Zone.
Gappy’s Mystery Letters is a great letter tracing app that is perfect for juniors ages 3 and younger. The app lets juniors learn about letter names, letter sounds, and new sample words. It also includes 52 coloring pages and an endless practice mode. If you’re looking for a fresh approach to letter tracing, definitely give Gappy’s Mystery Letters a try.
App was provided for our honest review.