Friday, May 20, 2011

Talking Fingers–Wordy Qwerty

Earlier during this year of the this TOS Homeschool Crew, I had the opportunity to review their product title Read, Write & Type.   We were very impressed with it and curious about the new level program called Wordy Qwerty.

Imagine my delight when at the end of my third year with the crew, I have the opportunity to explore and discover Wordy Qwerty with my oldest son.   Originally I had registered my two oldest sons for this review but we quickly discovered that it was a bit too advance my my struggling reader.   However, as I write this review, I think that my 2nd son would be ready to go ahead with it.   For some reasons, he prefers to stick with the Read, Write & Type program.  So I asked my son, Alexandre who is 9 years old, to product test the Wordy Qwerty for the purpose of this review.

imageAbout the Product

The creators of the Talking Fingers approach have based their program on a simple idea: text is speech made visible!   On a daily basis we use our mouths to talk and we use our fingers (with a pencil or keyboard) to represent those words on paper. So when children learn to link speech sounds with letters while using the alphabet to write any word they can say their fingers are "talking".

Wordy Qwerty – Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency will  take  children ages 7-9 year olds through the next steps of reading and writing fluency.   This program picks up where Read, Write & Type leaves off.   So in a way, it is a wonderful continuity for the kids.

After successfully completing Read, Write & Type, most kids ages 6-7 year olds are able to write any word they can say.  However, they may not spell them all correctly.  Wordy Qwerty will help them to learn the spelling conventions and how words are constructed in English. (To be honest, I almost wish a similar program would exists for French…!)

The authors of the program explain the purpose of it this way;

The overall purpose of Wordy Qwerty: Foundations for Reading and Writing Fluency, is to improve phonological and morphological sensitivity, to develop a deeper understanding of how words are constructed in English, and to provide reading and writing activities with helpful feedback, in order to increase fluency and comprehension in reading and writing.

In all 20 lessons are included in Wordy Qwerty.

  1. Silent E
  2. Sounds of C
  3. Sounds of G
  4. J or DGE
  5. W or WH
  6. C or K
  7. CK or K
  8. CKS or X
  9. CH or TCH
  10. LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  11. OI or OY
  12. VE Words
  13. Open Syllables
  14. Double Consonants
  15. Doubling rule
  16. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  17. I Before E
  18. Plurals: Add ES
  19. Plurals: Y to IES
  20. Plurals: F to VES

For each of the lesson, the child will go through 6 different activities. 

step1Patterns Children generate two lists of words by typing the names of pictures and sorting the words by a given characteristic. They are directed to notice the patterns," or spelling rules, by comparing the two lists. If they can't sound out the words or spell them correctly, the Helping Hands will assist them. Qwerty and Midi talk about the differences between the two lists and derive the 20 spelling rules which then are woven into the lyrics of delightful songs.

step2Karaoke Rhymes and songs are memorable and fun. There is a catchy song about each of the 20 spelling rules. Children read the lyrics on the screen and can sing along if they want. Often the lyrics contain examples of the words that reflect the spelling rule. Children are motivated to read the words while the song is playing, or while they are singing it themselves.

step3Recycler Lots of words that rhyme can be made just by changing the first letter or letters of the word. Some words sound the same, or rhyme, but use a different combination of letters to represent the same sound. In this game, chidren learn different vowel combinations that can make the long vowel sound. They watch the RECYCLER drum whirl as it changes the first letter(s) of two rhyming words. They learn to quickly distinguish real words from non-words. The non-words are vacuumed away. Players that score less than 90% on the first try are asked to study the list of real words. If any are not familiar, they can click on the word and hear it used in a sentence. Then they are asked to play the game again.

step4Pop-a-Word  "Outlaw" words are best memorized by learning to recognize them quickly. In this arcade-type game, children find words in a 4 word phrase as each word appears briefly, along with non-target words, in a cluster of colorful balloons. As children click on the correct balloons, they "pop". The faster they recognize the correct words, the more points they make.

step5Write Stories In these cleverly illustrated 8-line rhymes, children hear and see the first line, and have to type out the second line after it is dictated. They can see and hear the dictated line as often as they need, but get more points if they remember the sentence and try to spell the words correctly. These little stories are full of words that require using the spelling rule just presented.

step6Read Stories  Here are some short, engaging stories that develop comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. Every so often, there is a word missing, and children have to choose among three possible words, the word that best fits the meaning of the sentence. These stories also include words that utilize the spelling rule, or the "outlaw" words learned in that lesson.

These activities becomes repetitive with time as they are the same for each lessons.   For a child who is struggling with learning repetitive is wonderful but for a child like my oldest son it gets to the point where the fun is reduce as you progress.   He enjoyed playing with Wordy Qwerty but it was a bit easy for him.    However as you progress, the levels of difficulty and the rapidity of the activities is increased.    Having a new instrument being unveiled once you complete a section is very motivating for the child.

My son’s comments

I like Wordy Qwerty.   My favorite part is seeing the musical instrument play. With the points we earn, it would be nice to be able to “buy” things (virtually).

Wordy Qwerty is different that Read, Write & Type as you do not have the possibility to print an award as your progress.   However, the progression is visualized as the building of the musical instruments is completed.    Wordy Qwerty has guided my son through the spelling of words and through it I even learned new English words I didn’t know.   For example, in the Recycler, I have learned how some words that I didn’t know are used in a sentence.    (In case you are wondering, English is my second language… I was born and raised in French!)  The program is fantastic but to be honest the pricing scheme for the online is not conducive for family like ours.  With four kids it would cost us too much….   I know we can always buy the CD version but the online version is nice as well as you can access it anywhere you are.    I would suggest that a family pricing be considered in the future to help homeschoolers to access these program onlines.  

Also as a suggestion for the future, I think that both programs should be converted to become iPad apps. We would definitively consider purchasing the iPad version of both apps if it was reasonably priced.   It would be fantastic to have these on the go while we are travelling.   I see enormous potential in these programs and I think it would be very advantageous to make them available for portable devices like the iPad.

System Requirements:

MAC: OS9 with CarbonLib or OSX

Windows: 98, SE, 2000 or XP  

It also requires QuickTime 6 or greater.  Please be aware that it is NOT compatible with Windows 7 or MAC 10.6


The online prices varies depending of the number of users. But please be aware that all Home Online Subscriptions are for 5 Years.

The Home Edition includes 1 copy of the Wordy Qwerty program on CD, 1 Wordy Qwerty Program guide in a three-ring  binger and 1 JingleSpells audio CD of the 20 songs contained in Wordy Qwerty.   All this for the price of 35$ US. 

However, you can purchase a K-4 Reading Bundle – CD Home Edition for 99$ in the US and 59$ for the International Edition.   The  International edition contains 1 Read, Write & Type Program Cd, 1 Spaceship Challenge program CD, 1 Wordy Qwerty program CD and 1 JingleSpells audio CD.   The US Edition also contains an activity binder, a set of reward stickers, a practice keyboard and one 24x36 inches poster.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Talking Fingers for sending me to above mentioned product for review purpose through the TOS Homeschool Crew. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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