Reading Magic For iOS from Preschool University

Minneapolis, Minnesota – Preschool University today is pleased to release a huge update to READING MAGIC, their 23rd education app, which provides practice in reading 3-letter words. Designed to enhance the phonological awareness that is the key to reading mastery through learning games, the app employs interactive sounds, pictures, and letters. The update features new menus screens and new game screens to deliver clearer presentations and gameplay so that learning will be more effective for children. The update includes new categories and an organized system of tracking progress. There are three games included in this app which deal with reading and the two skills necessary for successful reading; blending and segmenting.

Blending is taking individual letter sounds and combining or blending them into a meaningful word. It could be called “auditory reading” or reading just by sounds with NO letters. This can be a difficult task for beginning readers and requires practice and patience to understand thoroughly. The process of turning /c/ /a/ //t/ into “cat” is a neurological challenge for emerging readers. It may take some practice to develop this skill, but the time spent is well worth it. Blending is the best way of preparing a child for the much more difficult and essential skill of segmenting.

In Skill 1 Listening, there is a large empty space at the center of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, there are three sparkling sound tiles that appear in sequence. As each one appears, a sound is spoken. Then, they all vanish, and the sequence repeats again. The sequence of tiles and sounds repeats twice. Then a cluster of stars appears above. The child is to listen to the sounds and blend them together in his mind and say the word, “cat.” The child is to turn the sounds of c……….a………….t into a “cat.” After the child has blended the word in his mind, he can tap on the big star cluster to see the picture of the blended word and to hear the app produce that word, in this case, “cat.” Here, there are no letters to guide the student, only sounds. The skill of blending sounds requires no knowledge of letters, just the sounds of letters. There is an ear icon button on the left center side of the screen that can be touched to have the sound tiles repeat their performance.

Segmenting is one of the most important skills children need for successful spelling, reading and writing. Segmenting can be difficult. One way to look at segmenting is that it is spelling words using the sounds of the letters rather than the names of the letters. Segmenting is a skill and exercise that is unknown by most parents and even many educators, and yet, “The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (phonemic awareness).” (Lyon, 1995). Segmenting is closely associated with spelling. Segmenting is taking a word and breaking it up into its sound parts. In segmenting, the sounds and not the names of the letters are used.

In Skill 2 Speaking, the skill of segmenting is practiced. There is a large picture of an object at the top of the screen. There are three sparkling sound tiles that are at the bottom of the screen. The name of the word that is the picture is spoken by the app, “dog.” The goal is to break the word down into its simplest component sounds. The child pronounces the word aloud and then says each phoneme or letter sound that makes up that word as she touches the starred rectangles in sequence.The child is to tap each sound tile in sequence as she says each sound of the word. The child is to tap the first tile as she says the sound, “d.” The child is to tap the second tile as she says the sound, “o.” The child is to tap the third tile as she says the sound, “g.”

The Reading mode should ideally be used only after practicing and becoming proficient at Skill 1 Listening and Skill 2 Speaking. The reading mode is designed to encourage reading and discourage picture guessing by keeping the picture hidden until after the user taps on the empty picture frame. That way, children can read the word without being distracted by the picture.

In Skill 3 Reading, the blending and segmentation practice from the first two skill levels is put to use. Words of three to four letters appear on the bottom of the screen with one letter in each rectangle. Consonants are red, and vowels are blue. The large square is empty. Many students will see the word and read it immediately. For those who need help, they can touch each letter to hear its sound. To verify his answer, the child, touches the large white square to reveal a picture and to hear its corresponding word being pronounced by the app. Skill 3 Reading incorporates the skills learned during Skill 1 Listening and Skill 2 Speaking, and cements the connection between the letters and sounds, the letters and the word, and the word and the illustration to which it refers.

READING MAGIC can help a child’s future reading success by focusing on the key skills of blending and segmenting using only CVC (consonant – vowel – consonant) words, such as cat, box, and pig. In the first part of the app, the menus have words categorized by middle-vowel sounds. In the second part of the app menu, the words are sorted by categories rather than by vowel sound. The app has more than 200 words with the paid version or with an In App Purchase from the free version. The paid version also has options for voice choices, font styles, font colors and lesson tracking.

ABC READING MAGIC gives children solid and direct experience with letters and sounds to help build their phonemic awareness skills. It helps improve childrens’ phonological processing ability, guiding them towards becoming great readers. The educational app has three skill levels for reading development: Blending, Segmenting, and Reading.

Feature Highlights:
* Fun app for preschoolers that concentrates on reading 3-letter words
* Kids develop important phonological awareness, vital for success in reading
* Blending is taking individual letter sounds and combining or blending them into a meaningful word
* Segmenting is taking a word and segmenting or separating it into individual letter sounds
* Built-in videos demonstrate all three modes
* Choose from a male or female voice
* Choose from three font styles
* Choose from two types of font colors

“This app series uses the best methods for teaching children how to read, by starting with blending and segmenting,” said Hestia Abeyesekera, Ed.D. of Kinderhaus of Musik. “A team of educators using accelerated learning techniques and Montessori principles developed this fun app, which your child will enjoy using as they learn,” stated Richard Colombini of Preschool University. “It has been tested and successfully used with preschoolers.”

Device Requirements:
* Requires iOS 7.0 or later
* This app is optimized for iPhone 5
* Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
* Universal app optimized for display on all iOS devices
* Rated 4 +
* 264 MB

Pricing and Availability:
READING MAGIC free and READING MAGIC Deluxe is $1.99 (USD) and are available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category. Review copies are available on request.

READING MAGIC
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Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Preschool University’s mission is to create and promote excellent reading materials and high quality learning tools for children. Established in 2010, Preschool University is an accumulation of over 20 years of experience and success in child reading development. It began as a promise by Montessori preschool owner and lead teacher, Richard Colombini, to prospective parents. The promise: “All Kindergartners Are Guaranteed To Read” The company currently offers more than 18 free educational apps in the App Store. Copyright (C) 2011-2014 Preschool University All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks and registered trademarks may be the property of their respective owners.