Daily iPad: Play-Doh Create ABCs lets kids squish dough while they learn their letters

Are there times when your kids ask about Play-Doh and you say no because it's just too messy? Or maybe you have a little one darting around who is more likely to sample some dough instead of squeeze it through his or her fingers? If you find yourself with a young child who wants Play-Doh, but can't have it right now, you may want to check out the Play-Doh Create ABCs app.

The Play-Doh app has three different learning activities -- letter writing, letter matching and a create and share center that lets children create their own scenes. The Play-Doh models used in the app are brightly colored and have a cute, puffy Play-Doh look. The app has excellent narration that walks your child through each activity. The voice is clear and loud, making it perfect for the preschool set.

The writing section is the centerpiece of the app and has the most features. It opens with all 26 letters of the alphabet (upper- and lower-case) and prompts children to pick the letter they want to learn. Once they have made a selection, the wireframe letter is then shown on the screen. Your child gets to pick the color of the dough they wish to use from virtual containers that look just like the real Play-Doh tubs. The colored dough then is dropped on the letter in chunks. Your child must drag their finger to squish the dough together and form the letter according to the proper stroke order. It's a learning experience that teaches children letter recognition as well as letter formation.

Daily iPad PlayDoh Create ABCs

When they successfully form a letter, children are rewarded with a Play-Doh treat that moves when they touch it. This figure is added to a gallery of models that is used in the create and share activity, which I discuss below. Children also can make their own model by dragging pre-formed Play-Doh pieces together like a puzzle. Kids can change the colors of these pieces as they go along and really make it their own. Once the model is built, they can either squish it or save it.

The app includes more than just letter writing. There's also a letter-matching section that displays a Play-Doh letter and prompts your child to drag the letter to the Play-Doh model that begins with that letter. The letters are sounded out and the narrator clearly speaks the name of each picture.

The Create and Share section is the free-form part of the app. It uses the models that your child has earned by forming letters and allows your kids to play with these models in a scene. Your child can pick from different landscapes, including a beach, mountain, a castle and more. They can place models, letters and a variety of different shapes in the scene. Your child can take a photo of the scene when they are done. This photo is saved to the camera roll, which means your Photos app will soon be filled with Play-Doh creations.

The Play-Doh iPad app is no replacement for the hands-on dynamics of working with real Play-Doh, but there are times when playing with the dough is just not possible. In those instances, the Play-Doh app provides a clean alternative that'll entertain the early elementary and pre-school group. Play-Doh Create ABCs is available for US$2.99 in the iOS App Store.