Elmo Apps Engage Children's Fundamental Literacy Skills
PHOTO: Sesame Workshops Elmo Loves ABCs and Elmo Loves 123s apps incorporate interactivity games and exercises, video, and letter and number identification to help children build fundamental literacy skills.

App Name: 'Elmo Loves ABC's'

Available Platforms: iOS

Price: $4.99

What does this app do?: "Elmo Loves ABC's" and "Elmo Loves 123's," two apps created by the Sesame Street Workshop, aid kids in learning the fundamentals of reading and mathematical literacy.

"Elmo Loves ABC's" provides children with ways to explore the letters of the alphabet by allowing them to identify, trace, and hear the sounds of each letter. Open the app and the letters of the alphabet appear around the screen's border. Tap "A," for example, and Elmo encourages kids to trace upper and lowercase versions of the letter by following a yellow dotted line with their finger. From there, the app presents video examples of objects that begin with the letter -- an astronaut somersaults in mid air and Grover comically plays the accordion. "Elmo Loves ABC's" builds on a child's ability to recognize letters, letter sounds, and vocabulary while keeping them engaged and entertained with games like hide-and-seek, and digital coloring pages.

"Sesame Street's Elmo Loves 123's" app aims to foster a child's understanding of numbers and math much in the same way "Elmo Loves ABC's" supports a child's grasp of the alphabet. The app accomplishes this through number tracing and identification, counting objects, and addition and subtraction games. Using the numbers 1 through 20, children follow along dotted lines to draw each number, watch video clips, and play games such as seek and find and complete jigsaw puzzles. The app also helps children build on their addition and subtraction skills through helping Abby Cadabby, "Sesame Street's" fairy-in-training character, complete tasks such as getting a group of chickens to a disco.

Elmo functions as the main voice of both apps, a kind of MC providing instructions and encouragement as you go through each exercise. The fuzzy red muppet is not alone, however. Both apps include well-loved "Sesame Street" characters, such as Bert and Ernie, Grover, and the Cookie Monster, throughout the videos, games and exercise.

Both apps provide parents with the ability to monitor their child's progress with built-in trackers. Tap the "Info" button in the "Elmo Loves 123's" app, for example, and see some basic progress information such as the numbers a child has played, as well as which games he or she plays and with what frequency. Parents can customize the apps by adding their own photos, video and audio to it, making it easy for them to participate in the learning process along with their child.

Is it easy to install?: Both apps are easy to download, but because they are rich with features such as interactive games and video clips, they are large; "Elmo Loves ABC's" is 736 MB and "Elmo Loves 123's" is 490 MB. Therefore, they may take a few minutes to load onto your device, depending on your connection.

Should I try it?: "Sesame Street" has built a long tradition of teaching and supporting children's learning while finding ways to engage and entertain them. The "Elmo Loves ABC's" and "Elmo Loves 123's" apps extend that tradition in the iPad environment; both apps cover fundamental skills and reinforce them along the way with interactive features, such as the letter and number games. Parents and children alike will not be bored staring at a screen, but rather encouraged to explore and play.

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