Monday, March 10, 2014

Talking Fingers

My kids love using the iPad. I love when they're learning. So when we can put the two together, everyone's happy. That's why we were excited to review the Talking Shapes iPad App from Talking Fingers, Inc..

The Talking Fingers, Inc.'s goal is to get children to realize that text is speech made visible. We use our mouths to make the sounds of words and our fingers (writing or typing) to represent the sounds on paper. Once children see the relationship between the sounds and letters, they can use that code to write the words they say. They'll make their fingers talk.

Talking Fingers, Inc. has created a new, interactive learning app for preschool readers. This app teaches that letters are "talking shapes" that represent sounds. It is divided into 3 parts: Read to Me, Draw Letters, Play Game.

Read to Me
The Read to Me section uses 3 made-up stories, to teach how two sisters invented the alphabet. The Fat Cat, The Silly Hen, and The Dancing Pig introduce 6 speech sounds and their letters. Each letter is drawn as a picture, or talking shape, to help the child easily remember both the sound and the shape. For instance, the letter C is a curling cat, T is a tree, and S is a slithery snake.

Draw Letters
In the Draw Letters part, the child practices drawing the letters on the screen with his finger while speaking the sound with his mouth. Combining two 2 components (shape and sound) helps cement them in his mind. There are different ways to practice:
  • drawing the letters within guidelines inside the Talking Shapes picture
  • drawing the letters within guidelines only
  • drawing the letters within the Talking Shapes picture with no guidelines
  • drawing letters to make three-letter words

Play Game
There are 3 games to choose in the Play Game section.  
  • Find the Shapes gives the child a word to spell. There are 6 letters inside their picture to choose at the top. The child drags each picture shape to the proper space to spell the word. So, if the word is cat, the child find the picture of the C and cat, then the A and acrobat, and finally the T and Tree. Then the word cat is read, sounded out, and read again.
  • Find the Letters shows just the letters, no picture shape at the top. A word is read, and again, the child drags the letter into the appropriate place. As each letter is touched, its sound is read.
  • Draw the Letters shows just the picture shapes at the top with no actual letters. When the target word is read, the child finds each picture, drags it to its place, and draws the letter. For instance, if the word is wet, the child will find the pictures of worm, elephant, and tree and draw the letters W, E, T

After each of the spelling games, the child listens to a short poem that incorporates the words. After it's read, a word will disappear, and the child has to find the word as it passes the screen in a floating balloon, flapping hen, or flying pig.

Zac (4) has been learning how to make simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, so this app came at a perfect time. When we first downloaded it, he and I sat on the couch and played together. Within a few minutes, Alyssa (5) and Jake (8) joined us. They all were enjoying the stories and pictures so much that they were each trying to be the one to find the letters or pop balloons. Of course, it's a bit too easy for them (even Alyssa is reading long vowel words), so they never choose to play by themselves. It has been great for Zac though. Not only does he enjoy playing, but he's also making improvements with his reading. He has gone from sounding out each letter of the word, to reading the word as a whole.

You can purchase Talking Shapes (the first of 3 apps to teach 40 phonemes) for $5.99. It is compatible with the iPad and requires iOS 6.0 or later. 

You can connect with Talking Fingers through Facebook and their YouTube channel.

To see what others thought of this app, you can read more reviews on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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