Sunday, October 10, 2010

TOS Review - Talking Fingers

As part of the TOS Crew I had the opportunity to review Talking Finger's, Read, Write & Type! Learning System .

Read, Write & Type Learning System helps students learn the alphabet, letter sounds, associating words with pictures, simple sentences and keyboard instruction in a challenging animated, interactive format.

My kids really enjoyed the animations and the program completely engaged them. The animations tell the student what to do and the student does it.    The characters involved are Lefty LaDee, Rightway McKay and the villain, Vexor the Virus.  Vexor has stolen all the letters on the keyboard (each letter is also represented by a character, whose name begins with that letter sound) and it is the students job to get those letters back. Lefty and Rightway are the helping hands that guide the student through the various exercises where they can rescue the letters from Vexor. Once a letter has been rescued, the letter lights up on the keyboard and the individual characters are shown.

 Lefty, Rightway, the town and several rescued letters on the keyboard

Rightway showing how to type "J"

To rescue the letters the student must go through several exercises which involve determining whether the letter sound they are looking for is in the beginning, middle or end of the word. This helps strengthen phonemic awareness.

 Trying to rescue the letter H from Vexor. The student would type "H" for hat. If the picture shown starts with another letter, the student types the space bar.

 Once the student rescues the letter from Vexor the next step is to type a series of letters or words that helps the character across a playground, lake, garden, etc.

 The student types "h" to help the hamster across the playground and on to the Story Telling Tree

Once they have successfully typed the words the character makes it to the Story Telling Tree where the student types a four sentence story that that character makes up.  After all that is done successfully, then, the letter has completely escaped and is "free" and is now back on the keyboard.

The sentence to be typed out is shown, the voice reads the sentence, then the sentence disappears and the student types the sentence. After successfully typing the sentence there is a short animation to the right acting out the sentences written. If a student doesn't remember what to type, they click on the lips to have the sentence retold.

There is also a section that is unlocked after a few levels where the student can write and send as well as  receive stories by other students through a simulated email program.

What happens if you aren't successful? Vexor sends you back to the beginning to start on that letter sound all over again.

After four successful rescues the student has completed a level. They are taken to a new screen where they can print out a certificate showing completion of each level. There are 10 levels in all.

There is also an assessment area where after each level of completion, Vexor comes on the screen in his spaceship and says he wants to play. The student is then taken to another screen where they are tested on phonics, reading and spelling for the sounds they have learned. This is done through a series of drills similar to the exercises they already completed during the rescues. The teacher can track students progress and print out reports showing a bar graph of each individual students progress.

That is a basic rundown of the program. It's a typing lesson, reading lesson and writing lesson all wrapped up into a game that includes fun animated characters and sounds (I personally found them annoying, but my kids loved them ;) ).  You can watch a short video (3 min.) explaining more about this program here.

There were a few things about the program that could be a problem and was in fact for us. :)  The instructions aren't always clear and the commands are given fast. For a beginning reader, which I have, this gets frustrating. I also found the word usage was more advanced than what a beginning reader would typically be expected to know how to spell. My son did okay on most of the lessons but he did struggle with the spelling portion.  Another problem I had was the program would freeze during assessments. On several different assessments my son would complete the task but the program would not move on. We would need to refresh the page which brought us back to the opening sequence. All the work that had been done during the assessment was lost requiring it all to be redone. After 3 or 4 times, my son gave up in frustration and would stop and come back later to give it another try.  Other than those few minor issues, my kids really enjoyed this product.

Read Write & Type costs $35.00 for one user, $55.00 for 2 users, $70 for 3 users, $85 for 4 users, or $100 for 5 users for a home license with a 5 year subscription. School licenses last one year and are priced differently. CD bundles are also available, and for larger families may be a more budget-minded option. Additional downloads, including Activity Books, Reading Books and a practice paper keyboard are available for online subscribers via the website.
Talking Fingers carries other educational products such as Wordy Qwerty, which is the next step up from Read, Write and Type! and Jingle Spells which puts spelling rules to music! These are just a few of their products, you can check out more of what Talking Fingers has to offer by going to their website.

To check out what others had to say on the TOS crew, click here.

I received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it.  I received no other compensation for this review.  The opinions expressed in this review are my personal, honest opinions.


Jen U. said...

Hey Friend,

I tagged you in a fun meme that I posted on my blog today.

Nikki said...

My daughter thought this was fun too!

I'm just stopping by to say, "hello." I hope you are having a wonderful week!