Sight word recognition is the foundation for early literacy. Once a child has learned most sight words, she is able to read up to 75% of the words used in beginning children’s print materials. HangArt aims to help kids learn sight words, by offering a creative twist on the classic word game Hangman. Kids play a visual hangman with K-3 sight words, then draw pictures and create stories using the words they won.
Three Unique Game Modes
HangArt centers on three unique game modes: Play Hangman, Word Gallery, and Story Studio. In Play Hangman, up to two players select one letter at a time to guess the mystery word. With each correct guess an illustration is gradually revealed. On the contrary, failure to uncover the word will cause the hanging man on the side of the screen to fall in defeat.
If the player manages to guess the word, she is given the word to trace. She can also rate — using emojis — the difficulty for solving the word. The word list contains 200 sight words from Kindergarten through Grade 3 Dolch, Fry, and Teacher College lists, and the game increases in difficulty based on the player’s performance.
When a word is won, it is added to the Word Gallery. Here, all the words are displayed along with accompanying illustrations. They are also organized by parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, and verbs). What’s cool is that children can replace each illustration with their own drawings, using the simple drawing tools provided by the app.
In the Story Studio, the player can shake the device to randomly select six words. She then records a story using those words, which can then be saved and played back as audio books. The words/images can be reordered, and an edit function allows more advanced players to revise stories.
In addition to the primary game modes, the app also has a tracing activity. Here, the player can learn to trace each individual letter in the alphabet in uppercase or lowercase. There is no time limit for this activity, and the player can jump in any time.
To make the games even more fun, badges are rewarded for various achievements such as winning without any wrong letters, creating drawings, and solving a specific number of words. The player can view all her badges from the menu screen.
Parents Need to Know
HangArt is developed in collaboration with literacy and arts educators. Inclusion is a big part of the app’s design, for example, the font used in the app is recognized to be dyslexic-friendly. The app allows the player to create up to six profiles, so it is ideal to support learning at home and in the classroom.
Grown-ups who want to keep track of each player’s progress can do so from the Grown-ups Dashboard. There is also a comprehensive guide for getting the most out of the app and extending the learning process offscreen.
The app contains no third-party advertising and no in-app purchases. Internet connection isn’t required to play, so the app is also handy to have while traveling.
Things I Like
HangArt is interesting because it provides three different ways to learn, whereas most apps only have one. The Hangman game is always a fun challenge, and the Word Gallery and Story Studio help ensure the lessons stick through contextual play. It’s a thorough approach that makes learning more meaningful and effective.
Exploring the app, it becomes clear that a lot of thought went into the design. The hangman character, for example, is not actually hanged but merely falls off a monkey bar if a word is not guessed correctly. Another nice detail is in the drawings, which have been inspired by diverse culture and history: a city skyline of Dubai featuring the tall Bhurj Khalifa, a Native American corn husk doll, characters with different skin colors, and many others.
The only drawback to this app is it doesn’t always run as smoothly as I hoped. For example, the tracing activity is sometimes slow in responding to your finger movements. The app also occasionally freezes while saving a drawing in the Word Gallery (if it happens to you, just restart the app). These aren’t exactly deal breakers, but I would really love to see them fixed.
Update: as of version 1.0.7, the developer has fixed the issues mentioned above. The update also adds the option to skip the letter tracing activity and the ability to save individual drawings in the Word Gallery.
In HangArt, kids play the classic word game alone or against a friend to learn and write 200 sight words. They then use the words they’ve won to record stories or draw their own pictures. It’s a fun game that can be customized in a number of ways, for example, by using capital or lowercase letters or hints. Highly recommended for parents who are looking to supplement their child’s language learning.
App was provided for our honest review.