We had the opportunity to review another Talking Fingers Inc. program called Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy. This is offered as an app at the Talking Shapes website, but for our review we were given the new online version. The link for the new online version will be available soon, I believe.
This program is for children who are ready to start learning how to read. It introduces letters in a different way, as "talking shapes," and sounds. They can see the shapes of the letters in real-life objects that they are familiar with. As they associate the sounds with the shapes and pictures it will help them recall the sounds as they learn how to read.
How does it work? It is a series of stories told by 2 sisters who are trying to come up with a new way to communicate, so they invent these letters. As they invent these letters they teach how to read and write them with sounds, and shapes. During the story there are little games to help the children practice what they learned. There are four sections to each story: Story, Letters, Spell, Read. As they complete each section it is highlighted on the beginning screen (as pictured above).
The Talking Shapes program is laid out very nicely. The child just works through the stories one at a time. The child is allowed to move on once they have completed each part. Ideally this would work better with a touch screen so that the child could just draw with a finger, but it works both ways. The letters can be traced, and will fill in even if the child isn't doing it exactly on the letter which is nice, and why it works.
They also learn how to spell words as they go.
My 5 year-old used this program. He is pretty familiar with his sounds, but this was a fun and different way for him to look at letters. He liked the story, and was able to use the mouse to write the letters pretty well. He was able to understand exactly what he was supposed to do with the clear instructions. The only thing he didn't care for so much was after spelling the first few words he wanted to move on, but they have to spell several words before it moves on. I had to help him a little to move forward. The great thing about spelling so many words though is that it teaches them how to blend the words as they spell too which is something my son is having a hard time understanding.
Overall, I think this is a great program for learning phonics. Besides some of the technical difficulties (which hopefully will be fixed) we had with the online version I am glad that they are offering it both as an app and now an online version because not everyone has the ability to get the app, and it's a great tool for young children learning to read.
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