We recently had the opportunity to review a great product from Talking Fingers Inc.. We received a one-year subscription to Read, Write & Type to give a try. This has been a great product for my son. What does my son say about Talking Fingers Inc. —
“Mom this is the best! Can I do some more?”
What more could a mom really want in a learning to read product?
What is Read, Write & Type?
Read, Write & Type is a great, online product to help your child learn to read. Unlike many phonics programs, the 40-lesson reading adventure activates the child’s brain to hear, speak, touch, and type the works as they learn to read. The program teaches phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, punctuation and keyboarding all rolled into one program, in most all lessons. And the best part – it seems like the child is playing a game. This was motivating for my 6 year old boy.
What is a Read, Write & Type lesson like?
Each of the 40 Read, Write & Type lessons begin with showing the keyboard on the screen and the Helping Hands, Lefty and Rightway, guide the student through the lesson. The goal — stop Vexor, a mischievous computer virus, from stealing letters and keeping the storytellers, like Ann the Ant and Cass the Cat, from writing down their stories.
Student listen to a story about the letter they are working on, read words and sentences using the sound of the letter, identify first, middle and ending sounds of words, select pictures that match a word or group of words, and even help the storyteller get across the monkey bars on a playground by typing what they hear. Typing, spelling and reading are all rolled into each lesson and almost every activity. After getting through all the activities successfully, the storyteller is saved and the student can move on to the next storyteller. Students are rewarded with certificates of advancement for every 4 storytellers (letters) they save from Vexor.
As the student becomes more advances spelling and vocabulary are added to the lessons. A Power Fountain Game helps youngsters work on speed and accuracy in their typing and a Spaceship Challenge gives extra instruction and assessment games. An E-mail Tower provides a word processor for writing original stories and sending simulated e-mails. The program has also been stated as an excellent way for students, ages 6-8, that are learning English as a Second Language (ESL students) to work on English and learn the language successfully in a fun environment. ESL is available in 9 languages with this program, which I think is amazing!
How we used Read, Write & Type and what we thought
Since my son is a beginning reader, we started at the beginning of the program with lesson 1 and started working on “rescuing” the storytellers. My son works on it between 3 and 5 days a week. I received no complaints when it was time to work on Read, Write & Type.
Leyton liked Read, Write & Type a lot. He didn’t complain when it was time to work on it and usually had a good time. He did get frustrated from time to time when he couldn’t get his storyteller across the monkey bars in the beginning but that became his favorite game.
He doesn’t like to read the books, which appear and open in a separate window, but they were very appropriate for his reading level. His favorite part of the whole program was watching Vexor get angry when my son was “beating” him at the games. For instance, if the student ready a word correctly and gets a green mark Vexor would get upset, make a mad face. As the child progresses through the activity, Vexor gets more and more angry until he is red and shaking because the student is rescuing the storyteller and he can’t “steal” the letter. This made my son laugh; he was always having me come and look at how angry Vexor was.
Come look at Vexor, mom. He’s so mad! (giggle)
I liked that the when the student makes a mistake he doesn’t hear a buzzer for being wrong or anything derrogatory, just a try again sort of response. For instance, if the program were to say “Type ‘a cat'” then the student is to type ‘a’ space ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t.’ However, if he were to type ‘a’ and then not do the space, the program would just repeat the instructions and allow the student to try again. It doesn’t tell him he is wrong. But there are parts where they have to do well in order to work. For instance, in the game where the student types letters or words to help the storyteller across the monkey bars, if the student types wrong, Vexor blows really hard and moves the storyteller back on the monkey bars, sometimes back to the beginning. And there are positive affirmations throughout the program when the student does something well.
I liked that there is a certificate of achievement for rescuing the storytellers for every 4 storytellers (or letters) that are rescued. My son liked these and liked them to be printed. He also enjoyed the extra activities that popped up with a gold blimp after getting through some of the activities.
One thing that I would have liked in the program would be a clear beginning and ending for a lesson. Since the child can work at his or her own pace, they can work for as long as they like. For instance, if you want them to work 15 minutes a day, which is the recommended amount for Talking Fingers Inc., you can set a timer for 15 minutes and the student can work for that time period. However, my son likes a lesson to “end.” Therefore, this was a little frustrating to him because, if I happened to be working with another child and not watching him closely, he would keep going and only saw the lessons actually ending when he got an achievement certificate. But as I mentioned, this only happens after every 4 storyteller rescues which is essentially 4 lessons. So, yes, he did 4 lessons a couple of the days. If he was getting anxious to be done, he would lose interest in the activities and try to rush through them, which caused him more frustration because then he wouldn’t get them right. I would have liked to see something like “Good job rescuing the storyteller today. That concludes this lesson. If you would like to end your lesson for the day, push the computer icon the upper right hand corner. If you would like to keep going and rescue some more storytellers, press the green go button.” or something like that. I think that would have clearly defined to him that he had done a good job for the day and didn’t HAVE to continue if he didn’t want to.
Otherwise, I think it’s a great program. My 6 year old emergent reader did a great job. He was very happy when he read a sentence, which I always knew because I would hear
“I did it!”
shouted from the table. He thought Vexor was fun and loved to tell people that he is learning to type and read at the same time. The graphics are very pixelated, I guess that’s a good way to describe it. They seemed a little old quality in nature, like made on an old computer program, but that did not seem to both my son in the least so it isn’t a deal breaker for our use.
We will definitely continue to work through the program with our son. I really like that they are learning to spell and type the words they are reading. I think this integration is very important and gets all the parts of the brain working at once. I would certainly recommend the program to any beginning reader looking for a great online phonics program.
Read what the rest of the TOS Review Crew has to say about Talking Fingers Inc. and the Read, Write & Type program by clicking the banner below. And visit Talking Fingers Inc. on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You can give Read, Write & Type a try by visiting their website too!