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TOS Crew Review — Talking Fingers

October 11th, 2010

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“Mom, how do you spell ‘truck’? Oh wait! I know because my typing program taught me!” I didn’t know if I should believe my five year old. His reading has been taking off, but to remember the ‘ck’ at the end of a short , short-vowel word? I was skeptical.

But, sure enough, he sounded it out and spelled it correctly, from the sometimes tricky ‘tr’ at the beginning to the two letter ‘k’ sound at the end. As he said, we owe that little milestone to Talking Fingers. Talking Fingers has quickly flown to celebrity status in our house. We received a one year license for three, so my 9 year old, 6 year old, and 5 year have been giving it a test drive.

Each of them benefited in a different way from the program. My 9 year old brushed up on her phonics and worked on her typing letter by letter making sure she typed them correctly. The 6 year old plowed through the material the same way she devours books right now, but didn’t spend too much time on the correct fingering. The five year old is steadily working through it and reinforcing the phonics that he is currently mastering.

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The program begins with a catchy tune and then the typing hands take it away as they teach sounds and the corresponding key strokes on the computer keyboard through a game format. As each sound is introduced the hands show the proper way to type it, tells you the sound, and then leads you into various activities to learn the sound, practice typing it properly, identifying it in words, and hopefully rid the city of the “virus” that stole the letter sounds.

Product: Talking Fingers
Details : A program designed for K-3 graders that teaches spelling, reading, and phonics along with introductory typing.
Price : $35 for online version for one year for one student ($55 for 2, $70 for 3, etc.) They also have a CD version for $79.

What we loved . . .

  • Hands on and visual. All three of my kids really enjoyed this program. My six year old workbookaholic, my fourth grade anti-writing child, and my five year old that loves anything that is his. The program gives lots of opportunity to see and hear sounds and words and the typing offers a great way for kids who might despise picking up a pencil but need that kinesthetic reinforcement in their phonics studies.
  • Entertaining. Although my fourth grader found it a little babyish (it is designed for K-3), she was quickly won over by a program that keeps the user engaged and gives a very hands on approach to learning and reviewing phonics rules.
  • Multi-age. Each child will  glean different lessons from the program, but those just learning to read and those that need a refresher can enjoy these lessons.
  • Corresponding print material. On their website you can find little readers to print out and use in conjunction with the sounds they work with in Talking Fingers. Just check out the downloads.
  • Printable Certificates. I find them a little silly, but my kids love to print off the certificates after each letter that they complete. Proof that they really did learn something while “playing.”
  • Reports. The teacher/parent can log in and see what level of mastery the student is achieving. These are pretty basic reports and don’t show many specifics about what the child needs to work on. But, it does give you an idea of how well they are doing overall on the program.

Some considerations . . .

  • Lengthy introduction. You can try it for free to see what I mean, but the kids do need to spend some time watching a video at the beginning to understand what they will be doing in the program and to introduce them to some of the characters. None of my kids complained about have to watch this little “cartoon” before getting to work.
  • Lets kids pass without passing. You can choose what the passing percentage is for each child, but it will still allow them to move on if they are doing well overall. So, my son’s spelling was below the passing expectation in the first couple levels, but he kept moving on. However, amazingly, his scores kept getting better with each level. I would not usually like a program done that way, but it still worked, at least for him.

Talking Fingers has been a hit with all three of my kids that tried it. While the ones who are reading independently worked through the levels fairly quickly it was a good review for them (and a good intro to proper typing), and my son who is just learning the sounds really benefited from this unique interaction with the phonemes he is learning.

Check it out for yourself with a demo version available online. If you do decide to order, you can find a form on that page to give you 20% off as well!

Each family will have a different experience with a product, so I would definitely encourage you to check out some other TOS Crew reviews on this product, over at the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This online program was provided to me free of charge through Talking Fingers as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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