April 13, 2016

Read, Write & Type: An Addicting and Exciting Typing Program for Kids {Product Review}

This is a computer generation, and children through the school systems today are learning how to type over focusing on penmanship. In our homeschool, we have focused on penmanship over typing, however, my boys have lately been asking for chances to type. I've used downloadable software programs for typing before, but don't like the amount of space they take on flash drives or hard drives. Enter the chance to review Read, Write & Type from Talking Fingers Inc., An online program that is designed to teach children not only how to type, but how to READ! With an emergent reader in the house, this got my attention and I couldn't wait to see if it produced the results it promoted!
Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc. Product Review

Product Information

Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc. is the latest typing program to hit the market. Unlike many of the programs out there, Read, Write & Type is completely online without any software download required. What makes this program unique, however, is that it teaches and encourages your child to learn how to READ! With their innovative method of teaching typing through phonics, rather than simple letter identification, your child will learn how the sounds go together to make words AS they are learning the positions of the letters on the keyboard. Throw in the creation of clever cartoon characters to go with each letter, talking hands as the narrators, and a villain alien named Vexor, and you have a hit for all ages!

Yes, all ages, for the program is also geared towards those learning English as a second language! Unlike many programs, this one is teaching English literacy (reading and writing) and is available with voice-over help in nine languages: Arabic, Farsi, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish and Tagalog.

Read, Write & Type online version is a five year subscription. You can get it for a single user for $35, two users for $55, three for $70, four for $85, and five users for $100. 

If you have an internet connection, you are able to use the program, since it is entirely online. 

We received a one year subscription to Read, Write & Type for multiple users and I used it with Baby Britches.

How Did We Use the Product?

We were emailed the log in information from the company and I immediately set up my account. I was able to set up each student with their name, username, and password. I was also able to put a limit on the time period he was allowed to use the product (time of day and days of week), and more importantly, set up a pass level percentage. For my youngest son, I made that level 80%, but I appreciated that I would be able to adjust that as needed in the future.

Once this was set up, I decided it was time to give it a go, so I logged him in using the information I had set up, and sat next to him as we explored the program. (We use Chrome for our browser) It begins with a cute little theme song and then starts by introducing what the program is about with a narrative by two hands--Lefty and Rightway. Then you meet the villain, Vexor! He comes and sucks up all the letters off the keyboard and tells the hands they will need to win back the letters. And that sets up the game.

From here on out, the program follows basically the same pattern. You log in and click on Vexor. Vexor will share what letter you are going to be working for. The program teaches the typing in a logical order, working on the primary letters for word making first--beginning with A. Instead of referring to this letter as A, it refers to it by its short vowel sound. There is also a character attributed to each letter--in this case Ann the Ant. The talking hands show on the screen keyboard how to type the letter--and then ask the student to do it. From this point, the game begins. The child goes through a series of activities where they identify pictures of items that begin with whatever the letter is, clicking on the letter (correctly) on their keyboard. Another activity is for them to repeatedly type the letter (always referring to it by phonetic sound) using the spacebar to separate the letters. After they play several games through practicing typing with Vexor, the program takes them back to the original screen and they get to click on the letter on the screen keyboard to return the character to their home...and then the process begins again with the next letter.
With each letter added, it is mixed up with the letters prior and if possible, words are built! For instance, the first two letters are A and S. So the first word they learn is AS. Then they practice spelling the character of S's name: Sass. As always, referring to the SOUND the letter makes, not the name of the letter. By the time they learn the first 4 letters, they can spell several different words--thus visually identifying words and sounds AND writing/reading them...AND learning how to type them properly!
practicing repetitive T
practicing repetitive FA, moving Ann the Ant across the playground.
Vexor will blow her back if too many errors are made.
Long O is being practiced with Otto's name
The final stage is writing full sentences with any letters that have been learned. 

Here are few of the kinds of things the program includes:
*repeated typing of words with space bar use
*identifying the beginning sound in a word based on a picture
*identifying the middle sounds in a word based on a picture
*identifying the ending sounds in a word based on a picture
*having sentences/words dictated and shown, and then asked to type them out
*reading short eBooks
*reading sentences, and picking the image that matches the sentence
*seeing an image, and picking the sentence or word that matches
*learning how to type capital letters and periods.
*learning when to use a capital and period
*speed/accuracy games
*learning short AND long vowel sounds
*learning popular digraphs (like th and ck)
*and more!!

Speed practice--they tell you a word to type, you hit the timer, and type it as fast and as much as you can. As you type correctly, the fountain gets higher and higher until you get Vexor wet!

What sound do you hear in the middle? Type it!

Click the photo that matches the sentence!
Letters are taught in sets of four--once the level has been passed (based on your predetermined percentage of accuracy) the child receives an award which can be printed. They are then allowed to move on to the next set of 4 letters. There are opportunities to earn extra points with extra games.
Earned by Baby Britches today!
After watching Baby Britches do the first 8 letters, Little Britches began begging for a chance to do it too. I was able to add him as a user, and he began the program too.

He loves Talking Fingers Inc.!
Practicing TH
As of right now, Baby Britches has completed four levels and 17 lessons (which include two digraphs th and ck) and is beginning lesson 18: sh. 
I can see Baby Britches progress in his profile when I log into my parent account
Little Britches has completed two levels and is on lesson 12: n.
Little Britches stats
We currently do this program at least three times a week, but typically each boy begs to do at least one letter lesson a day.

Our Thoughts

Both boys love the program. They beg everyday to have a chance to do it. Because the program picks up where they left off, they always can just log right in and start without my help. Sometimes they get stuck and ask for assistance, but for the most part, they can do it themselves.

Little Britches is far more independent than Baby Britches, simply because he already knows how to spell and has better finger dexterity. Baby Britches can get frustrated when he can't type a word correctly, even when he thinks he's sounding it out right. Part of this is because of his speech issues with lisping and some pronunciation. But because the program has no timer, he can review a word over and over until he gets it right. Today I had to step in because he was trying to spell "teeth" as "teef" and couldn't figure out what was wrong. Once I demonstrated with my mouth the correct ending he fixed it easily and moved on. 

If he can't remember what the sentence/word is he's supposed to type, he can ALWAYS click on the image of lips and they will say/show him the words again. This helps him visually see the word and has proven to help him remember hidden letters he might have forgotten. I appreciate this aspect, as it lets him stay very independent with the program as he can click it as many times as is needed to get it right.

I don't think that the program moves too fast for either boy--simply because you can repeat things as many times as you need to. At this time, we haven't tried to redo any letters because both boys are passing their typing accuracy. 

Little Britches is strictly using it for a typing program to improve his typing. It is working very well for him that way, but also drilling him on sounding out words--even though they are simple words at this point. It never hurts to review.

Baby Britches is using it not only for typing, but for the READING and writing aspect. I have loved how it is dovetailing into our reading/writing lessons as the games encourage finding beginning/middle/ending sounds, digraphs, and teaching short/long vowels. Right after we learned how c can say two sounds in our language arts program, he reviewed that very thing in his Talking Fingers Inc. lesson. So now he takes the time to think of the word being said--find the middle sound--determine if it's a bossy vowel (e, i, y)--and then choose either c or k for the "kuh" sound accordingly. His spelling is getting faster and more accurate on the program, but in our regular lessons too. He tells me "I know how to spell that because I did that in typing yesterday". 

Sometimes it seems like the words get advanced quickly, but then I remember that the point is to sound out the letters as you type AND you can listen/see the words over and over again until you get them right. So it's really not a big deal--unless you have a child who gets frustrated when he can't remember how to spell a word--until I remind him he can click on the lips to see/hear it again...and again...and again. LOL

I love the repetition and mastery. The same words are used over and over in the games and typing practice. This helps make it click in the boys heads. 

I love how they get to earn readers once they know enough sounds/letters! Here is a video of Baby Britches reading the first reader:


These readers are available to be printed off which is a great bonus. We just read them online each time. 

The characters on the program are whimsical and rather humorous. The boys laugh at their antics and sometimes their sentences to type are silly.

Do I plan to continue using this product?
100% yes! Both boys love it. It provides Little Britches the typing skills he so desperately desires (And I wanted him to have). Baby Britches is learning typing, but more importantly, it is reinforcing all the lessons we are doing in our reading/writing curriculum! I honestly think you could use this program AS a reading curriculum FOR an early elementary student because there is such a strong emphasis on reading and learning phonetics!

Would We Recommend This Product?

As I said above--I absolutely love this program and recommend it without any hesitation! It is not your normal typing program and encourages your child to strengthen their reading/writing skills--it teaches English literacy! The cost of $35 for a single user subscription is well worth it--you can pay near that for just a plain old typing program--but here you get it online for FIVE YEARS and your child is learning how to read and write fluently! 

I really don't know why you wouldn't want to use this program. I guess if you are an older student/adult, it might be too juvenile. But you WILL learn how to type with it, even if that's the only reason you want it. 

Want to Know More?

We reviewed Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers Inc. with both boys and we give it a definitely three (counting mine!) thumbs up! What did some of the other review team members think? Some of them were using it with special needs children--and as ESL trying out the other language settings. 
Talking Fingers Inc. Review
You can stay up to date on all the Talking Fingers Inc. news by following them on these social media outlets:

Facebook:  
https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFingers/

YouTube:   
https://www.youtube.com/user/talkingfingersvideo

Twitter:  
https://twitter.com/ReadWriteType/with_replies 
@readwritetype

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I am so glad that this program turned out to be something that not only didn't take up space on my computer or flash drives, but was something the boys BOTH love and is showing such positive results! It was the perfect time to find such a fabulous product!
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