We have a new review to share with you today! For the past six weeks, we have been exploring the new online version of Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy from Talking Fingers Inc.
What is Talking Shapes?
This program has so much potential as a complete preschool phonics curriculum for children ages 4 and 5! The version of Talking Shapes that we received for review purposes is a computer-based online curriculum that runs in your browser. We used Chrome. We are told that they also plan to release the program as seven separate, downloadable tablet apps for iPads and Android devices, but that there are no plans in the works for it to work on smart phones.
Talking Shapes is comprised of a series of seven sequential “books.” (These will be the seven apps released in the tablet version.) I really like that the program reads the stories aloud to the children in a way that is easy for them to follow along.
In these books, your child meets two sisters from what looks to be something like ancient times who want to find a way to remember the stories they come up with. They realize that words are made of sounds and proceed through the books to “invent” the alphabet. As the sisters invent, your child learns their letters and sounds! Each story introduces your child to several letters, the sounds they represent, and then to words that can be made with those letters.
Each of the seven books/apps builds on the one before it and contains a story about the two sisters, three spelling games and a reading game.
When your child completes a book, they receive a gold, silver or bronze trophy depending on their score. Children are allowed to replay the spelling and reading games for a book they’ve already completed, which can give them a chance to get a better score or just be done for review or entertainment purposes. They are pretty fun!
Talking Shapes is best used with a computer with a touch screen so that your child can practice actually drawing the letters with their finger as they learn them.
Unfortunately, we have never yet been able to get the touch screen feature to work, but we are hopeful that it will begin working soon as that seems to be a key component to this program, at least for use with young preschoolers. Our little guy found it very challenging to manipulate the mouse to make the letters and ended up giving most of his attention to learning that task rather than to learning his letters. He’s actually gotten pretty good with the mouse over the last six weeks so that was an unexpected benefit for us. 🙂
We haven’t gotten this far yet, but we are told that after apps three, five and seven, the children will be asked to play additional games to assess their progress. Parents are able to access progress reports for all completed books. We haven’t finished the first book yet, so we haven’t actually seen these, but we are told that they will show the total number correct out of the total possible (e.g. 10/12). For the additional assessments after apps three, five and seven, there will be both a spelling and a reading comprehension score. At the end of the program, children will have thirteen scores – a spelling score for each book and a spelling and reading comprehension score for each of the assessments.
What did we think of Talking Shapes?
As I said at the beginning of this review, this program has so much potential! It does such a fabulous job introducing kids to letters in a fun and memorable way! I think Talking Shapes will be incredible as a tablet app, and I hope we get the opportunity to try it out when it’s ready.
We found using it on the computer a little bit frustrating as it often took a long time to load (likely the fault of our slow internet here in Malaysia), we could never get the touch screen function to work, and it was awkward trying to have my little guy on my lap at my messy desk full of things he’s not allowed to touch, squirming to try to use the touch screen and then trying to use the mouse. We eventually hooked it up to our big screen TV and just enjoyed the stories together with me making the letters with the mouse. The stories are very engaging and drew both the baby and the 6-year old over to the screen every time!
I look forward to sitting on the couch with my son and using Talking Fingers as a tablet app that will be pre-loaded and with a working touch screen! After this preview, I have no doubt that we will love it!
Connect Online with Talking Fingers
I, along with other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, received a free copy of this product in exchange for our honest reviews. You can see what my fellow Review Crew Members thought of it by checking out the Crew Blog Post for this product. I always love checking out everyone’s reviews as they always come up with creative ways I never would have thought of to use these things!