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Aug 4, 2016

Talking Shapes TOS Review

Talking Fingers Inc., the same vendor that brought us the super fun Read, Write & Type, also has a reading and spelling program called Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy.  Merrick is thoroughly enjoying this one, too.  He is learning to spell more CVC words while playing games on the computer.

Two sisters, Pat and Nat, realize that it's difficult to remember all of the great stories they enjoy telling each other.  They decide it would be a good idea to create a written language so they won't have to memorize them all.  They start by making letters that are shaped like pictures which begin with the sound the letter makes.  C is curved around a resting cat's back.  T is a tall pine tree.  A is an acrobat.

One important thing they notice, while looking in a pool, is that their mouths make different shapes as they speak.  Using a handheld mirror is a great way for children with enunciation issues to practice speaking clearly.  It will also help them differentiate sounds for reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding).  I remember once, years ago, giving Xavier a paper about beginning word sounds.  He wrote a W next to the reindeer because that is what he heard when he spoke.

The program includes seven books to be read in order.  Each book contains a story, reading and spelling games.  At the completion of a book, the child receives a gold, silver, or bronze award based on how well they completed it.  The next book can only be accessed once the current book is completed.  However, the games can be repeated later, playing them is not a "one and done" deal.  Scores can also be improved which will change the trophy next to the book.

In book one, they learn C, H, F, A, T, and S.  They're spelling and reading cat, fat, hat, and sat well by the end of the book.  Book two only introduces five more letters, but children will be able to read short vowel words much longer than just CVC.  Each book should be not just completed, but grasped thoroughly before moving on.

Talking Shapes does take a few minutes to load, every time you use it.  I recommend waiting for that to finish *before* calling the kids to the computer.  Don't waste their short attention span on waiting.  The screen remains black while it loads, with no indication it is loading.  Once you click on one of the books to begin, there is another short wait, though not as long as previously.

Talking Shapes would work best on a touchscreen computer.  Using the mouse or the touchpad on the laptop is difficult to maneuver because the button has to be depressed as the mouse is moved around the letter.  I thought Merrick would be completely put off by that, but he loved the challenge.  If he unclicked, he just went back and started where he left off.  If the letter is nearly complete, the system will accept it as complete and move on.

If you log off or leave the program, it will take you back to where you left off.  This was a great feature, as I'm a firm believer in letting preschoolers call an end to school.  When Merrick is done, we are done.  It's nice to know we won't have to repeat segments when we pick it up again to get back where we were.

In the lower left corner, Owl Scholar is waiting to give you a child report. It's a basic report which lists the book number, their score, and the highest possible score.  There is a score for each book, once completed.  Several times in the series there are cumulative review exercises which also are scored.

OK, so he resembles a penguin to me!

Talking shapes is a complete reading and writing preschool curriculum and will take some time to complete, depending on your child's ability.  The program is for children 4-5 years old.

A release for seven separate apps are being planned for use on tablets.

Find Talking Fingers on social media.

Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}

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