Yippee! Another Katie review!
Have you heard of the Talking Shapes app from Talking Fingers? Is there a pre-reader in your house? Check it out! This is a preschool reading program in app form.
Despite having NO prior experience on the iPad, Katie quickly caught on to the idea of hitting the NEXT button at the end of each page.
You can see from the photos that Katie's hands are different than yours and mine. Katie has ABS, or Amniotic Band Syndrome. While she was in her birthmother's womb, bands of amniotic tissue wrapped around parts of her body, causing constrictions and amputations. She's not in pain, but sometimes she does things a little differently.
You can see that I am "helping" her here. This is normal, toddler-learning-to-trace-letters help, not anything related to her special hands.
Talking Fingers has different "books" or stories within the app. It tells how two little girls used to love to tell stories, and they came up with the alphabet as a way to write their stories down, so they could remember them. The letters have shapes based on what they remind the girls of. In the picture above, you can see the C is based on a curled up cat.
The first book introduces the _AT words. Cat, hat, sat, and so on. As you can see from the photo above, Katie started getting the idea of tracing the letters on her own after a few letters. This interactive learning was a fun way for us to spend a few minutes together each morning while I waited for the older kids to finish chores so we could start school.
The app repeats the letter and the sound it makes, and encourages the child to repeat certain words and sounds. Sometimes it will say, "I didn't understand that. Say, CAT." Katie's got a quiet little raspy voice, due to banding on her neck, and the app often didn't "hear" her attempts.
In addition to the "read to me" section, there is also a "play games" area for each book. This reviews what you learned in the book, and reinforces the letters/words through games and videos. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see Katie is repeating the app.
She wasn't ready yet to select the floating balloons with the correct word on them, but she was able to find the hidden picture. Given that this is a pre-K/K app, and Katie is only 3, with 7 months exposure to English, her "delay" is totally understandable. I'm sure she'll get it in time.
One of the games was selecting chickens that have the correct word on them. Unfortunately, when you touch the wrong chicken, it explodes (like confetti, not gory), and it's not clear that this is the WRONG choice. I think maybe a buzzer noise would help to clarify.
Jack wanted to play on my iPad one day, so I asked him to try this game. Jack is 9, and the app is designed for Pre K & K level kids, so I knew it would be "young" for him.
As I expected, he bored with it quickly. But it gave me the chance to see that the things that make it "boring" for a 9 year old, make it great for younger kids: the app speaks slowly and clearly, the stories are simple. I realized it would be ideal for Hannah.
Like Goldilocks hitting the right bowl of porridge, Hannah was just right for this app.
She enjoys playing on tablets (she recently inherited Jack's old Leap Pad), and the reading level was perfect for her.
Although Hannah is 6, and in the first grade, this is a good, interactive review game for her.
I think as Hannah works through the other 2 books and Katie watches her play the games, both girls will benefit. Talk about a win-win situation!
Talking Shapes is available on iTunes, and is $5.99 at this time.