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Apr 14, 2016

Talking Fingers TOS Review

Talking Fingers Inc. is (from the website) an "Innovative Phonics-to-Fluency Software for Hands-on Reading and Spelling."  Normally, I wouldn't have copied anything from the website, but I really felt that was one of the best tag lines I've ever read.  Before we were assigned Read, Write & Type for review, I decided to try out the demos on the website, so I set up the school laptop.  I started the parent demo and before I knew it, Merrick snugged right up beside me and Xav was hovering over my shoulder.  After poking around a bit, I excused myself.  I barely left the room and Xav was sitting in my chair, pushing buttons.  They played around until I came back.  I was trying to show Xav the "home row" when I decided to change him to the kid demo.  The three of them were roaring with laughter and yelling advice to each other for an hour!

I knew I would definitely get Xav an account.  He's at a good age for it, not a bad reader (though not a great speller), and with decent coordination.  I really was undecided about another account for Malachi or Merrick.  I ended up speaking to someone at Talking Fingers Inc., asking if maybe Mal and Merrick could share an account because I didn't think either would get a ton of use out of it (because Mal's coordination is pretty poor and he doesn't like the character in the program, and Merrick is only 4), but they like to be included.  Kris was super helpful and kindly offered them both an individual account and talked to me about how each could specifically benefit. 

Read, Write & Type was developed for children approximately ages 6-9/grade K-2, kids with learning disabilities or reading difficulties, and for English as a second language learners (with voice-over help in Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalog).  Merrick is four and he was all over this program.  He did need some help from me, mostly with spelling.  And he can only type with one finger.  He definitely isn't ready for actual typing instruction, but the use of phonemes instead of letter names had him typing CVC words alone and the short sentences with help.  I set Merrick's requirements very low in the parent dashboard.  He only needs a score of 50% to pass and move on to the next level.  We share lots of woo-hooing and high fiving!

Xavier needs to achieve an 80% to pass into the next "spaceship" (level) of the game.  He still hunts and pecks and doesn't use the home row (called power ups) accurately, but I see the improvement that regular practice is giving him.  He finds the keys more quickly and is also learning to spell better.  He still finds some phonemes difficult, so this is a great way to reinforce that.   As he progresses, he earns a certificate which can be printed out. 

The game takes place at a computer where two hands talk the children through rescuing all of the keyboard letters (people and animals) from Vexor, a blobby green alien.  Using various activities, they must beat Vexor to return the letters to their proper place on the keyboard.  Once all the games are completed, based on the score set by a teacher/parent, the letter is safely returned to it's apartment window.  The boys love all of the things that Vexor does during the games to win by cheating, or things that happen to him when he loses the section.  It's pretty amusing to see a curtain fall on him or a trapdoor open under him.  Sometimes, they get all riled up because he will move their points to his side, but something ridiculous always happens to thwart him.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

There is no marked starting or stopping point for the session, but it is simple enough to stop after a letter is returned home.  If you need to stop at any other point, the program remembers where you left off and you'll start back at the same place when you log back in.  At various points throughout the activities, there are fun books to read.  These can be saved on your computer as a PDF.

Malachi says
I was embarrassed.  Germy man is loud.  And annoying.  I think it might be made for babies and toddlers.  Besides, I already know how to spell and type.  You know that.

Xav says
I like the thing at the fountain where you have to spell quickly and if you are quick enough, Vexor gets a shower.  I know where some of the letters are on the keyboard now.
Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Merrick says
Vexor sucks me into his space ship.  When you finish, you get a story part. I like when bad things happen to Vexor in the movie theater.  I learned to spell /k/ /a/ /t/ and /s/ /a/ /t/.
So there you have it.  Three yeas (counting mine) and a nay.  Mal can spell pretty well, but he is a hunt and peck typer.  He obviously doesn't know how to *actually* type.  His review amuses me to no end because, today, he told Xavier not to type until he finished his math and he could watch.  Not do.  Watch.  sigh...  Vexor does kind of creep him out, but he can't get enough of watching.  He covers his ears while he watches his brother play.  It's hard to type while covering your ears!

I especially like that phonemes are used in place of letter names.  Merrick knows his ABCs, but we have been practicing phonics and this is great reinforcement for him.  It's funny, when he writes now, he is making the letter sounds and trying to read words.  He's very good at beginning sounds.  And he just loves this keyboarding program.  It looks a bit outdated and I was a wee bit skeptical before we used the trial, but I can't recommend Read, Write & Type enough.

Read, Write & Type and Wordy Qwerty (grade 2-4) both correlate with standards in all 50 states.

Find Read, Write & Type/Talking Fingers on social media.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

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