Friday, April 15, 2016

Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Keyboard AND Mom Time! Now, That's What I'm Talking About...

Don't you love it when a program pleases all three of your children AND helps you meet homeschooling goals?  That's just what has happened with us as we've been reviewing a free one year subscription to Read, Write & Type by Talking Finger Inc.

When the opportunity to review
Read, Write & Type came up, I honestly was not looking for any more online programs for my children to use, since the weather is getting warmer, and I am wanting us to spend more time outside.  However, never one to shirk due diligence, I took a gander at the Talking Finger Inc.
website and found my curiosity piqued.  I am a former ESL teacher and current parent educator of three children, one of whom we are fairly certain is dyslexic, so when I read the About Talking Fingers page and these words about the development of Read, Write & Type spoke to me:

An important guiding principal was to integrate phonics, encoding, decoding, word-processing and keyboarding into one program–learning to read and write. Another guiding principal was to make the program engaging and fun for children. A third was to integrate phonics and keyboarding with whole language activities. Drawing on the experience of 20 years of neuropsychology research, RWT was built on a solid base of information about how the young brain learns. Safety nets were built in for those children who have difficulty with language tasks or who are learning English as a second language. In RWT, children practice phonics continuously, as they type meaningful words, phrases, sentences and stories within an overall story context.

Yes, as I continued reading, I found myself nodding my head in affirmation - a program developed for our modern times with the timeless needs of teaching children to read and write in mind.  For that, I could allow a bit more screentime even as the weather warms and the sun shines.

So, I called my children to the computer to begin a FREE DEMO of
Read, Write & Type and, within minutes, I knew we'd be signing up for the review.  They all were hooked right away by the premise of saving letters from the evil computer virus Vexor, and my oldest, who is outside the K-2/6-9 year-old range that the program is geared to for native English speakers asked, "Mom, even if it's for younger kids, can I use it, too?  PLEASE!"  Of course, I said he could, because I knew it would help his typing and, perhaps, his spelling, too.  So, I was doubly delighted when we were selected for the review and were able to take advantage of Talking Finger Inc.'s kind offer to allow all three of my children to use the program.

Meeting Homeschool Goals While Learning Typing, Phonics, and Spelling

Obviously, by taking on a
Talking Finger Inc. review, I did not make progress to a current homeschool goal of cutting back on screen time now that spring has arrived.  However, Read, Write & Type has moved us closer to some other goals.

The first of those goals is somewhat selfish: Mom time and 1:1 child time! 

As any homeschooler knows, Moms and Dads who choose to home educate often choose, by default, to have less time for themselves to think, breathe, work, or clean without children underfoot.  They also often have trouble finding time to focus, even for fifteen minutes sometimes, on only one child without being interrupted by another.  I am no exception to these challenges, and, sometimes, I just wish for a small chunk of time to focus on one child without another needing me or to go to do a task without worrying what my children will get into while my attention is diverted.  Enter
Read, Write & Type and such small blessings are abounding.

My children enjoy
Read, Write & Type enough that I can sit one child down with it and another child or two will clamber up alongside the child using it to observe, so I can throw in a load of laundry, make a phone call, dig through a file, or what have you.  I can also have one or two children sit down with the program while working with another 1:1.  What a blessing it is when I do so to know that the child(ren) using Talking Finger Inc. are happily engaged in something they can do independently while I am able to focus energy on another child or task.

A second goal
Read, Write & Type is helping with in our home is teaching keyboarding/typing skills in a child-friendly way.  I took high school typing and hated it.  (It was one of my lowest grades ever, in fact!)  Then, when word processors computers came out (for, yes, I am that old that I learned to type on a typewriter), I developed my own way of typing that is speedy, but incorrect.  I do not want that for my children.  I want them to learn to learn to type correctly with pleasure.  This program has definitely been a tool in making that happen.  Onscreen hands and a keyboard demonstrate for my child where to place their hands as they type.  Animations make learning to type fun - truly a game instead of "just a lesson."

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Another goal, of course, is to improve phonics, reading, and spelling skills
.  We have one "on level" developing reader in our home, one child who is "behind" in reading due to probable dyslexia, and a third child who reads chapter book after chapter book, but is not great at spelling and lacks some phonics knowledge.  The fact that this one simple online program that they all enjoy can be used in 15-minute chunks at a time to improve all these skills in each of my children makes it a winner for me!  The program uses a multi-sensory approach - having children use their eyes, ears, mouth, and fingers - to learn and, together with our multi-layered learning approach (which uses a number of resources and real life experiences) has definitely been working to improve my children's skills.

Simple (and fun!) to use, yet well-researched, explained and documented,
Read, Write & Type is a winning program for us!
Do you have an ESL learner? 
Read, Write & Type comes with voiceovers in nine different languages!

How Does It Come and What Is Involved?

Read, Write & Type is an online program, so you do not have to download things on your computer which take up space.  (Yippee!)  However, if internet connections are an issue for you, there is a CD-version of the program you can purchase as well.

I found that as soon as I logged in for the first time, I was easily able to create separate log-in names and passwords for my children and, also was able to set controls for what days and times my children could use the program and what score they would need to have on any portion of the program before passing along to the next portion.  Then, to set my children to using the program. 

My children had no problem using the program independently and rarely came or called out to me with questions or complaints.  In fact, just about the only thing I heard from them when they were using the program is, "Mom, can I keep going?" when their fifteen minute timers would go off.  (We do most lessons, especially online lessons in very brief segments both to ensure focus and to make certain that the kids -especially my sensory kid - takes body/movement breaks.)  Then, if I said, "yes until you complete the section you're on", which I typically did, I'd hear an exclamation of joy and then just the happy murmurs of an engaged child.

Occasionally, I sat and watched the children play (um, I mean, learn!) with Read, Write & Type, but more often than not, I used the time to focus on chores, work tasks, a 1:1 lesson with another child, and, then, just checked in on progress through my parent login, which allowed me to pull up easy-to-read charts and graphs on my children's progress.As a part of the program, the children could earn certificates each time they mastered four letters and these could be printed from their student accounts, but we chose not to spend ink and time doing so.  They were happy enough just to see that they had earned them online.  So, truly, this program is helpful for those with an internet connection and keyboard, but no printer.  (We have a printer, but I print so much already, I was thrilled not to worry about ink and paper for this learning tool!)

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

In the Children's Words...

As I have already mentioned, while
Read, Write & Type is hand-on (the keyboard) for my children, our use of it has been pretty hands off for me.  The children simply long in and use the program on their own.  So, I have decided that beyond stating that the program is helping us reach our goals with smiles, my children are better able to offer detailed explanations and opinions about the program than I am. 

 When I asked them to do so, my youngest, at five said:

It is harder for me than for my brother and sister, but I like it...  I can play and learn.  Sometimes (my brother and sister) help me.  It is fun.

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

It sure was fun for him!  And inspiring of silly play, too.  So often since beginning our review of this product, my youngest and his siblings have played Vexor using a body sock we have.

My daughter, eight, who is loquacious and as apt to point out little details she does not like as things she does like when talking about products, said: 

I liked Talking Fingers, but there are some things I did not like. I did not like when I had to go into a spaceship. It kind of drove me insane and distracted me, because Vexor and the spaceship changing, which makes me look at it instead of focusing on my typing. I also don't like the spaceship, because it is hard. The other stuff you just see the word, then type the word, so it's easier... That's just what I think.
Things I like... I like the place when you can write your own stories - the fake email. It seems like me and my brothers get a lot of the same stuff, though. I feel like the emails are just the same, but maybe they are not. 
I also like the spot when they let you click on the storytellers, because then I can hear and watch all the things the storytellers did earlier that I do not remember that well, and I can go on a Bonus blimp! I can also click on where the storytellers have been - where I helped save them or my favorite places. 
I also like getting the certificates, but the beeps get annoying every time you get four sounds. It gets on my nerves. It might not get on other people's nerves, but it does get on mine. 
I like when I go to the fountain, because then I get to squirt Vexor when I get things correct. 
I used another typing program before, so this one is a little bit of a review, but I like this one better. It's helped with my spelling, for sure, my reading a little bit. I like to use it because it is fun! It's not boring. Every time I see it on my lesson list I want to do it first, but my mom makes me do three lessons offline before I get online. Then, I get online and spend extra time on it. It's fun!  

As my daughter dictated these comments to me, I found a few things interesting: 
  • The spaceship portion is the testing portion in the program.  My daughter does not like being tested on her ELA skills, but willingly completed the spaceship portions even if she did not like them as much as the other facets of the program. She did not realize she was being tested.
    Talking Fingers Inc. Review 
  • At one point, before my daughter figured out the emails were fake, she and her brother had fun experimenting with the.  She asked if they could use both our laptops at the same time, set them up side by side, got herself and her brother to the Email Tower and had them both type and send an email at the same time to see if they would get each other's.  It was so cute! When imagination, learning, and experimentation go hand-in-hand, the catalyst for it (in this case Read, Write & Type) is considered a win by me!
  • Having sound on this program was such a bonus for my daughter as she is a child who needs multi-sensory input and does not do well with just visual input.  However, she is also a child who struggles with focus when things are challenging, so sometimes "bells and whistles" get to her.  I wonder if there would be a way to turn off some of the extraneous sounds (ones not of characters speaking and words being read) in updated versions of this program for children like my daughter.   

My oldest, ten, said:
It's awesome. I really liked it. I like the stuff they have, like first you got a movie theater or somewhere else and then you can sometimes go somewhere else. I also like when they walk to the tree and you get to write their story. To write your own stories, you have to go to email.

I especially like the Email Tower, but it does not appear until really later on.

Since I completed the game, I have seen everything. I like all the people - the people who live in the keyboard houses. I think my typing got better, and I'd recommend this for others.

I hope they make a more advanced version. I would definitely like it.

Oh, I didn't mind the space ship. It's like a test. You don't have to worry about it early on, but when it comes it's not that hard. I mention it, because I want to mention all the parts of the game.

I was quite surprised that my oldest did, indeed, finish the program so quickly.  He is "old" for it, but I still thought it would take him more than a month or two to complete it.  He just loved it!  Wait until I tell him about Wordy Qwerty, the next level, which I hope we can fold into life in the coming year.

Obviously, all three of my chidlren have had a ball with
Talking Finger Inc. and I am delighted that I "sacrificed" some outdoor time to bring this screentime into our home during this season of life and homeschooling.  Doing so has proved engaging and educational for our children and helpful to me (remember that Mom time and 1:1 time with my children).  Thus, it has been well worth the time spent online by my children, which, thankfully, could be as brief as 15 minutes in a sitting, but was, admittedly, often more due to their love for Read, Write & Type.

 And, bonus for me, if I ever have to "prove" my children are working and progressing, graphs can help me do so.

Learn More

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Read, Write & Type might be right for you if you have:

  • children who learn English as a Second Language.  The program comes with voiceovers in nine languages for ESL students: Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalog!
  • native English speakers who are learning to read.  The strong phonics base in this program, with some whole language, too - makes it a strong tool for teaching reading (and typing, of course).
    Talking Fingers Inc. Review
  • a child who struggles with handwriting but wants to tell stories.  By teaching children to type, this program allows children to unlock their inner storyteller, giving them a keyboard as a tool for communication.

  • a young children (or even ten year olds like me) who want to improve typing skills.
  • struggling learners who could use a multisensory approach to improve phonics knowledge, spelling skills, and reading skills.
  • children who like to learn independently online.

  • children who enjoy imaginative tales and adventures.  

When children immerse themselves in the 40-lesson adventure of Read, Write & Type, animations with colorful characters, games, and music keep them engaged and motivated while opportunities to listen, speak, touch, and type, help them improve phonics, reading, spelling, writing, vocabulary, punctuation and keyboarding skills, all while having fun! 

While I received a one year multi-user subscription for review, the program typically comes as
a five year subscription that purchased for $35 for single use, $55 for two users, $75 for three users, $85 for four users, or $100 for five users. There is also an option to purchase CDs instead of doing it online.

You can find
Talking Finger Inc. on Facebook, YouTube, and 

Talking Fingers Inc. Review

Eighty-five other Schoolhouse Review families took advantage of the fabulous opportunity to engage their children through
Talking Finger Inc. Be sure to click through to read others' thoughts, opinions, and descriptions if you'd like more information about the program.

Have you found a "right fit" program for teaching keyboarding/typing skills, while also focusing on phonics and spelling?  If Read, Write & Type could be it and with a FREE PARENT DEMO and the FIRST 8 LESSON FREE for children, there's nothing to lose by trying.

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