Build A Word is a clever, noisy, colorful kids game. The app is based on the PBS Kids show WordWorld, which neither I nor my four-year-old daughter had ever seen. That didn’t stop us from learning—and enjoying—the game pretty quickly.
Brightly-colored letters float around the iPhone screen to an upbeat soundtrack. A hollowed-out letter appears at the screen’s left edge; you’re tasked with finding that letter as it floats and dragging it into position.
Initially, that’s a challenge for young folks still working on their fine motor skills: there are many overlapping letters bouncing around, and finding the right one and dragging it into position takes some effort. But I think that’s a good thing.
Once you drag all the letters to spell the word (like “duck” or “frog”), the app tells you to squeeze the letters together. Do that, and the words morphs into that animal, which you can drag around the screen or tap to hear it make a sound. Shake the iPhone, and you can start all over with a new word. It’s fun, and, for the younger set, highly replayable.
My chief complaint about the app is its over-reliance on capital letters. The modern school of thought on teaching kids to reads stresses using the proper case; we don’t normally write “COW” in all-caps, so we shouldn’t learn to read it that way. The app alternates seemingly at random between letter case, and I’d prefer either just an initial capital, or no capital at all.
The only other knock against Build A Word is its limited dictionary. The app includes just ten words, and could benefit greatly from adding more.
Still, my four-year-old has a great time with it, and she thinks your kids will, too.
[ Lex Friedman is a frequent contributor to Macworld.]