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Teach your kids their first words

FirstWords Deluxe is a reading game for toddlers that helps teach letter recognition.

FirstWords Deluxe is a reading game for toddlers that helps teach letter recognition. This deluxe version combines all the words from the original FirstWords apps (for Vehicles, Animals, At Home, Colors, and Shapes, giving you 147 words in all) into a single app.

The friendly, cartoony interface is simple: once you tap one of the categories on the front page, you're shown a page with an object (such as a taxi or a color or a cat) along with scattered letter tiles that make up the object's name--which a toddler can then drag and drop into the correct order onto a row of shaded letters that spell the object's name. As each tile is touched, the letter is read aloud, and when the whole word is spelled, the name of the object is read along with a fun sound effect and short animation. You can only drop a letter onto its corresponding match, and it's clear that the whole interface is thoroughly kid-tested, which makes FirstWords Deluxe a good choice even for younger toddlers. (Even the uninteresting, unobtrusive navigation buttons--to return to the menu or skip a word--are a smart touch.) Parents have quite a few choices in the settings, including switches to toggle speech and letter hints, as well as options for word order, letter order, letter case, longest word (between three and eight letters), and spelling speed.

FirstWords does what it does well, but it doesn't provide many extras for its relatively high price. It's not universal, the animations are repetitive, and there's not much feedback for toddlers in the way of rewards or how far they've progressed through the available words. FirstWords was one of the best, earliest apps for kids, but parents have more choices now for toddler apps. Then again, if you're looking for this specific sort of letter-recognition teaching tool, FirstWords Deluxe gives you a good deal compared to buying individual FirstWords apps.

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