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Monday, October 11, 2010

Product Review: Talking Fingers

As a member of the TOS homeschool curriculum review group, I was fortunate enough to receive a free trial subscription to a computer software program called Talking Fingers. I received this program in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Talking Fingers is a program designed to improve and teach phonics, reading, writing, and typing to young learners. The Talking Fingers approach is based on the idea that text is speech made visible. When children begin to link speech sounds to letters they can use the alphabet to write the sounds. Thus the company says "Their fingers are talking."

I received my trial subscription to the: Read Write & Type Learning System. This program is designed for children in kindergarten to third grade. Starting at only $35 for one user for one year (online version), the home edition of this program includes: over 90 games, 118 typing lessons, 40 animated stories, and 84 writng samples. Quite a deal for such a comprehensive program.

So what did my boys think of the program?

I am sure that no one will be surprised to hear that the boys LOVED the program. They ask to play it every single day. Although the program was a bit easy for James (fourth grade) he enjoyed it just as much as Isaac (first grade). I think that because all the phonics and reading lessons were super easy for James, he really excelled at the typing aspect of the program. He never mastered typing without looking at the keyboard, but he worked hard on hand placement and correct finger usage. Isaac, on the other hand, was challenged by the reading and phonics aspect of the program and didn't work on the typing aspect at all. He used the same one finger to type every letter while using the program. Because the phonics aspect was so challenging to him, I didn't push him to type correctly.

In addtion to the student aspect of the program, there is also a parent/teacher component that allows you to monitor the progress of the children enrolled in the program. This helped me monitor where the children were at in the program and what skills Isaac may be struggling to master.

Talking Fingers also offers a program designed for second and third graders called Word Qwerty. This program focuses on spelling rules and improving reading fluency. It offers 20 lessons each teaching one or more spelling rules. Products from talking fngers are available in CD-ROM and online versions. Prices are different based on number of users and the product that you choose. Click here to view the pricing options.

My final thoughts on the program:

Although I definitely think the program is a good value for the price, I found the program to be a bit to much like a video game to fit in well with our "no TV no video game" family. I also found the teacher/parent site very difficult to navigate, although I am not a "computer" person, and the problem may very well have been user error. The program was really strong in the area of phonics and reading (a good thing in my opinion), but a little weak in the area of typing. There seemed to be very little reinforcement of correct finger and hand placement throughout the program.

I could definitely see this program as a good supplement to a phonics program for a student who needs a little extra practice, or a parent looking for a self directed program for a young learner.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Good review! Glad the boys enjoyed it.