Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Making Fingers Talk (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I'm going to show my age here for a moment.  Back in the day, before computers were a thing, I took typing class.  It was during my 6th grade year of middle school.  Each day, I would walk into a classroom with rows of tables that had nothing more than an (even then) old fashioned typewriter, a stand to hold your document or book and that was it.  Day after day, I went though repetitious drills of  learning the home row of keys and then learning to type "The quick fox jumped over the lazy brown dog".  Before the end of that class, I was able to type over 50 words a minute.  These skills have stayed with me throughout my life, putting me at an advantage when it comes to doing things on the computer, and even today I can still type well over 70 words per minute.
phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading
The way of the typewriter has gone to be wayside (and to be honest, many students today would have no clue what it was if they saw it) and while computers and texting are big in the lives of today's students, very few of them actually learn how to properly place their fingers on the keyboard or even know what the home keys are.  I doubt many even notice the textured line or bump on the F and J keys or why it's there.  I knew I wanted my kids to learn the skill of typing properly so I was very excited when I was given the opportunity to review Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc., a program that not only teaches typing but also reading and spelling.  For this review, we were given a one year subscription to Read, Write & Type for both Ashleigh and Garrett.

What is it?

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

Read, Write & Type is an online browser based reading software for children 6-8 years of age. While also teaching the proper placement of letters on the keyboard, Read, Write and & Type uses language arts such as phonics, spelling, and punctuation to take students grades K-2 from phonics to fluency.  As children hear individual phonetic sounds, they begin to associate that sound with both the letter as well as the letter's placement on the computer keyboard.  Multi-sensory learning is accomplished as students being typing the letter when they see and hear it, creating a tactile learning path in addition to just audio and visual. The program contains over 40 lessons to help develop reading fluency through this researched approach.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading
Lefty and Rightway help Students save the Story Tellers from the Evil Vector
The program itself is very cute.  Taking roughly 15 minutes to complete a lesson, students become part of a superhero team to help the story tellers that have been captured by the evil computer virus, Vextor. The story tellers each live in one of two houses which are represented by the left and the right hand of the keyboard.  With the help of two "helping" hands named Lefty and Rightway,  students work through each lesson to help save one of the story tellers and return them to their room in the house they live in.

The graphics are very colorful and slightly rudimentary, almost like a throwback to the graphics that were on some of the very first computer games like Kings Quest III back in 1986  (I told you I was old!!).   The story line and characters are engaging and even I found myself from time to time sitting beside my daughter as she works through the letters to hear the story from each story teller. After every 4th story teller rescued, students receive a certificate of completion.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

For ESL students, there are options for language help available in 9 different languages.  Extensive voice over help is available for the lessons in Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalong, making it a perfect program for teaching English Literacy in other countries and for non-native English speakers.

phonics phoneme awareness early writing and spelling keyboarding vocabulary reading

Learning Proper Fingering of Keys

For this review, I mostly used this program with Ashleigh, my 8 year old, although Garrett has played around with it and done a few lessons as well but because of his autism, it just didn't hold his attention.  However, Ashleigh found the program to be fun and engaging and I ended up having to limit her time with it after she spent a number of hours in a row on it. She really likes the characters.

After her marathon, I began to limit her to 1 lesson every other day.  Which means every other week, she would receive a new certificate which made her pretty happy.  There were times I had to correct her on using the proper hand placement on the keyboard, which I felt bad because her hands look so tiny on such a bit keyboard and she would occasionally try to "1 finger" it, but after a bit of time she began to get the hang of it.

Ash's Opinion:

"It's cool!  It's got talking hands and they are funny.  I don't like Vector, he's a mean, gooey alien something.  I like the story tellers. They tell nice stories.   I like saving them. And I like getting certificates."

Ashleigh with one of her certificates

For more information on Read, Write & Type, visit Talking Fingers Inc. on one of their social media sites. 

85 members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to use Read, Write & Type with their families for the review period.  Click on the banner below to see what the other members of the crew thought of the program. 

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

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