Oct 08 2014

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Using Magnetic Alphabet App for Education

Using Magnetic Alphabet App for Education

I downloaded the Magnetic Alphabet (affiliate link) for my iPad just as a fun activity for my Babycakes quite a while ago. It was free and intuitively easy for my little girl to use. It was a portable magnetic alphabet. Simple, right? The app let her drag and drop upper and lower case letters on to a board. (Very user friendly.)

Over time, she expressed interest in getting some of the extra magnets. I thought One day, maybe. And then, it occurred to me that this could be both a tool for learning and a reward for learning. It wasn’t long before I made the choice to purchase the rest of the sets.

First, before I go further, let me add that I am not advocating entirely replacing technology over physical manpulatives. There is benefit for both. This is just another venue for learning. (The novelty of the iPad is there, so I can use that to her educational advantage when she looks at it as fun.)

Magnetic Alphabet App as a tool for learning

I started using Magnetic Alphabet for learning when Babycakes was 5 and doing Pre-K/K level schoolwork at home.) Here are some of the ways I used (and invision using) Magnetic Alphabet for learning:

Phonics: I use the letters to build words. I set up two letters. She decodes it. Then I drag a different letter on the front to make new words.

Spelling: I have her drag letters to spell words.

Math: Number concept. I pull the number onto the board, and she drags the number of items that lines up with the number.

Math: Patterns. I start a pattern and she can either put the next one there or can tell me which one is next.


Reinforcing concepts: One area of struggle for many young learners is remembering which letter is which when it comes to “d” and “b” or “p” and “q”. I easily created a board like this:

If I want, I can print it out as a way to help her remember which is which. And she can go through the magnets and find things that begin with “d” or “b”. Or, I could put something on the board and she picks the right beginning letter.

Story telling: The different sets allow for endless storyboard creations. Can you tell me a story from this picture? Once there was a farmer…

Magnetic Alphabet App as a reward for learning

Entertainment was what I thought I would use this for in the first place. We regulate “screen time” at our house. And since the iPad is a screen, it is an option for that time. With the magnetic alphabet, BabyCakes spent time manipulating the magnets (more than just letters) as her choice for screen time. As I watched and talked with her about her magnetic creations, I realized the potential benefits for her learning as well as a satisfying reward.

She especially enjoys making scenes with all the characters (and sometimes mixing up the characters and changing the background). When she is done, she usually tells me the story.

When is this very handy?

Sounding out words

I have found this super helpful when I see her struggle to form a word. I have a ready alphabet to work it out. I drag the letters on the screen, and we talk about each letter dragging them closer and closer until she gets it. (Can I do this with letter cards? Yes. With the magnetic alphabet, I don’t have to sort through the cards to find the right one. I open the app, and it is ready to use. When I am done, I close the app. Simple and quick.)

On-the-go learning

This is great for on-the-go learning. We can be in the car, and I can direct her to make a pattern or make a scene and tell us a story. Since I won’t be looking at it as I drive, I can ask her questions about her pictures or patterns. (Or, an older sibling can see her work.)

Spelling feedback (when handwriting is a struggle)

This is helpful for spelling when handwriting is an obstacle. My daughter doesn’t write yet. She is learning to write, but handwriting and spelling would be too much. With the magnets, she can show me she can spell cat or pig.


We all don’t have iPads, but I could see how this could be used in a classroom as a way to give an answer all at the same time rather than one person giving the answer. (When this was originally written, iPads in the classroom were not as commonplace as they are now.)

Limited time

This is wonderful when I am short on time. It doesn’t require me to collect items or to put them away. It is ready to use whenever I want (or see a reinforcement need). And when I need to buy time with her (because another child needs my attention), I can allow her to create.

Limited materials

This may be obvious, but I never run out of letters. With a regular set of letters, there is a capital and a lowercase of each letter. With the Magnetic Alphabet, we can have endless e’s if we want. (Maybe there is an eventual end of letters, I have not tried to pile letter after letter after letter. But for our purposes, it does seem endless.)

How do you use technology in education?

What are some other ways you invision using this app for education?


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  1. Janet

    What a wonderful and intuitive idea.

    1. Cheryl

      Thanks. I’m just sharing what’s working for us.

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