Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Talking Shapes iPad app by Talking Fingers (TOS Review)

Talking Fingers Review
Our iPad has been such a great asset to learning in our home school. I really like that there are so many apps that help to enhance learning. Lately Delani and I have been using a new app Talking Shapes iPad App from Talking Fingers for review.

Talking Fingers Review
Talking Shapes iPad App is created for Pre-K and K to show that letters are really talking shapes. It introduces phonemic awareness and preschool reading through the story of two friends, Pat and Nat, who can't remember the stories the tell since letters hadn't been invented. They decide that if they can see the words it would help them to remember. This puts them on a journey of inventing a code by making a drawing for a sound and creating the alphabet. They then begin to explore the sounds of the alphabet. 

As the story continues, the girls pick animals or objects that represent the sound of the letter plus it is also used in creating the actual letter (see the cat above). During the story the child is asked to say the word that represents a sound, is then shown how the letter is form, and then learns to create the letter. After the child has drawn the letter it then repeats the sound of the letter for reinforcement. 

Also included is a section that focuses on learning to draw the letters and a section for playing games. All of these activities go with each story and enforces the sounds of letters with speech and writing. The activities and games focus on listening, drawing, and reading. This app also benefits struggling readers and skilled readers by using different sides of their brain.
I used this with Delani, though not reading, has some familiarity with letter sounds. When she worked on a story we would sit together and listen to the story and she would do the activities. After listening to a story I would let her either draw letters or play the different games that are included. 
This was done casually and not under the pretext of school. It was just a time of fun while gaining phonemic awareness. 

At first I wasn't sure if the app was a big hit or not. Delani seemed to get weary of listening to the stories about half-way through. She did enjoy the games and writing activities better. Of course, you can't do these very well without the background of the story so I had be a very persuasive mama a few times. 

After doing this for the past month I have noticed a definite difference. She has walked around saying many of her sounds over and over. She has spent a lot of time writing out letters and then saying the sounds to herself. I think the ultimate thing that told me that she was learning from this app was while building the words on the iPad she then would write them letter for letter on a piece of paper.

I did have a few issues the first being that when a child traced or wrote the letter it actually just darkened the correct part, kind of like coloring, so all a child had to do was swipe it sideways or up and down and it would fill in (see picture above.) I found that many times Delani didn't try to form the letter correctly due to this. The other thing that was at certain parts of the story or games it would ask the child to repeat the word. Delani would say the word, but the app would never recognize what she said and it would say  "I didn't understand that, say _________." Since she talks very well, she found this very frustrating and many times would turn off the game at that point.
I found the Talking Shapes iPad App to be a great tool for building beginning phonemic awareness and is available for the price of $5.99.  This little app will helpyour child take a closer step to reading or building their reading skills.
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