Phonics Genius is a customizable flashcard-style app designed to help kids identify letter sounds and their relationship to words. It has over 6,000 words grouped into 225 categories, including single letter and letter combination sounds. Flashcards are grouped into sets of words (categories) with similar letter and letter combination sounds, including short and long vowels, consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), and beginning and ending letter combinations. Each flashcard contains a word in a black font with the specific phoneme highlighted in red. Pre-recorded audio speaks the word and allows kids to see and hear the phoneme in context of the word. Kids, parents, and teachers can record their own voices, or turn audio off entirely, in the app's settings.
Kids begin by selecting a letter or letter combination from the home screen, then choose whether they want the sound at the beginning, middle, or end of each word within the set. They tap or swipe the screen to move between cards, or touch the home button to return to the list of flashcards. Phonics Genius has two play modes: Learn and Game. In Learn mode, kids become familiar with letter sounds and words. They scroll through card sets and view/hear words containing a specific letter sound, then manually or automatically advance from card to card within a category (auto-advance timing can be set from 0.7 to 10.0 seconds per card). In Game mode, kids are drilled to reinforce letter sound and word recognition. They're shown a list of words within a category but hear only one spoken word. Kids must then select the proper word from the list. (Learn mode lists can be set to contain two to six words from the same category).
For kids who have already started to read, Phonics Genius is an excellent resource. Organizing words by letter or letter combination sounds, it lets kids practice phonemic awareness and build sight words. It's also a confidence booster and challenges kids to try reading new, more complex words.
Phonics Genius falls short, however, on two key fronts. First, it doesn't have common letter combinations that are essential for beginning readers, such as -at, -et, and -it words. It also lacks an easy way to customize flashcard sets by word length. Beginning readers can handle three- and four- letter words (ship, for example) but may get overwhelmed with larger words that, by default, are in the same set (e.g., sheepskin). As is, Phonics Genius is best for kids who are emergent readers with previous reading experience.
There are lots of customizable features to work with here. You can set capitalization, font type, size and color, and order type (random, alphabetical), as well edit or delete flashcard sets. New flashcards and sets can be created by visitng Settings and choosing Customize Flashcards. New cards can also be shared through emails (as a .fwa file) or through a Dropbox account (you'll have get the Dropbox app for this to work).
Oddly, some very common beginner letter combinations such as -at, -an, -et, and -it words are not included in the app's available sets. You can create these categories yourself, but it's time-consuming, as each word must be added, categorized, and recorded individually. Custom-created categories appear on the home screen as Custom List; you can even add an image from your camera roll to appear as the list's icon.