Review: Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers Inc.

talking-fingers-logo_zpskl2dn6y5Once upon a time (way back in the late 1990’s) I was an undergraduate student studying educational technology and working in a lab school. A lab school is basically a regular school that opens it’s doors to students and researchers in order to use the children in the school as… well, guinea pigs!  At that time there was a piece of software new to the market called Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers Inc. that I had the chance to install on the school’s computers and observe how the children interacted with it and each other while using it.  I do believe I even purchased it to put on the computers in my very own classroom after I graduated and got a “real job.”  That software still exists to this day and it recently became available to the The Old School House review crew to review.  I had to jump on this one! I wondered how it had changed and I was eager to show it my own five year old daughter.  For review I received a one-year subscription to Read, Write & Type, which is good for multiple users.

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What Is Read, Write & Type ?

This program is now web-based (an internet connection is needed) although you can still purchase the program on CD-Roms.  I may very well have a dusty copy of this one in some deep corner of my basement tucked in with some old college notebooks.  It likely wouldn’t work on my modern computers.  This program covers many areas of language arts like early reading and phonics, spelling, and keyboarding.  It is meant for children who are around the ages of 6-8 years old and it does have features to help children learning English as a second language or those with other special needs.

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The program was developed by Neuropsychologist Jeannine Herron.  This woman has been studying everything and anything related to children and reading since the 1970’s.  She is a pioneer in her field, a co-founder and director of the first Head-Start program in the United States.  If you want to introduce tried and true, research based, learning to read techniques into your homeschool then you can be rest assured that this program does exactly that.

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The program breaks apart the keys on a keyboard int something like a town.  Each key represents a different “place” in the town.  And every key also introduces a reading or phonics skill for the student to learn alongside keyboarding skills.sounds_zpsahjmc0gi

Students learn to:

  • Identify middles sounds
  • Identify ending sounds
  • Identify beginning sounds
  • Practice speed and accuracy in reading and typing
  • Write and receive pretend or virtual emails
  • Blend sounds together
  • Type out a story
  • and more

The beauty of the program is that it helps children practice hearing the individual sounds in words.  This is a skill that can take some practice.  While doing so they learn to apply these sounds to specific keys and keystrokes on the computer keyboard (this is where the keyboarding skills come into play).  Like the best computer programs available this one is full of fun characters, bright colors, fun games and good animation.  All things that keep the children engaged and eager to use the program.  They completely forget they are “learning.”

e-mail_zpsllcoujo8The program conveniently remembers exactly where you child left off the last time they used the program so there is no repeating or redoing to get to the right spot.  You can register more than one child for the program and they will each be given their own username and password.  Teachers (Parents) have their own log-in and they can follow along to see how their children are progressing. Other features in the parent log-in is the ability to setup how long they can play each day and what days of the week they can play.  You can also determine at what percentage correct a child can pass on to the next level in the program.

How Did We Use It?

This is a program we use almost daily.  My 5 year old is able to access a shortcut on the computer and log herself right in.  I have her using a netbook computer with a smaller than average keyboard which makes stretching and reaching for the keys a little easier on her smaller fingers.  She is a beginning reader right now.  She has some strong skills but I think she leans just a bit on her ability to simply remember words based on site and a little less on phonics and sounds.  I like that this program is stretching her.  And she feels very sophisticated because she’s gained some keyboarding skills.  When away from the program I have found that I am able to get her to listen for the sounds in words when she is trying to figure out how to write and spell.  This is nice progress in reading and writing development in my opinion.certificate_zpsjgabjv3t

Has it Changed From Back in the Day?

I can’t be 100 percent certain.  It has been over 10 years at least since I last had any interaction with it.  As far as I can remember I really don’t think so.  I do not recall the mulitple log in option.  If I remember right every student just jumped in and played from wherever.  And I do not recall a teacher (parent) section that allowed for following progress or setting limits.  Those things could have existed and I just didn’t take advantage of them.  I couldn’t say for sure.  I wonder if I have  dusty copy of any of my old reports that might shed some light on that! Ha!

Here is the thing.  It really shouldn’t have changed in all of these years.  It works just as it is! It is still as engaging and relevant and educational and fun and all of the these we are expect in programs for our children.  But boy did I feel a bit nostalgic when my daughter for logged on.

My best advice is to take advantage of the free demo for this program. The first eight lessons are free to use. Give it a try! You won’t be dissapointed!

 

Talking Fingers Inc. Review
 

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