|Early Bird and his first word read on the Word Builder (Feb '12)|
This is a toy that I have had my eye on for a while. The best way for Early Bird to learn is through play/games/toys/songs. (He is only 3.75 after all.) He's been wanting to learn how to write for almost 6 months now, but he wasn't interested in me being next to him and showing him how to form the letters. I found a dry erase handwriting workbook with the letters the right size for him and he just drew over the letters whichever way he thought was best. I'd read reviews of the Scribble and Write (here's Jen Bardsley's review of the same toy at Teaching My Baby to Read) and I watched the ad video clip about the toy. The way they showed writing the capitol letter "A" was weird, and not even close to how Zaner-Bloser teaches it, so that put me off from getting it. But the Warde Grandparents got it for him so when I was able to sneak it away from him a few days after Christmas (it was his second favorite Christmas gift) I sat down and went through all the letters to see how they compared to Zaner-Bloser. Of the capitol letters, only "M" and "W" were different (the middle peaks are more shallow on the S&W than ZB teaches.) The lower case letters are more like ball and stick than continuous stroke, but it's not horribly different, and I think when the time comes for "formal" handwriting lessons Early Bird won't have a big problem adjusting.
The toy has four levels.
- The first level tells the kid the shape or type of line they are going to draw, then has lights that you follow with the stylus to make that shape. It starts with basic lines and progressively gets more complex, making triangles and hearts and the like. It's a good way to introduce the format to kids, and it's not boring.
- The second level has the child choose which letter they would like to do, then teaches the uppercase version of that letter. It also says the letter's sound after you're done writing it. You press the paw button when you're done. There is no accurate feedback. You get fireworks or a "great job!" even if it's wrong. Which, for a little kid, doesn't seem like a problem. Early Bird's letter making on the Scribble & Write are improving, so it doesn't seem that the indiscriminate praise is hindering his learning.
- The third level is the same as the second, only it teaches the lowercase version of each letter. The buttons have both the uppercase and lower case letter on them, which I like. And it lets the kid pick which one they want to make, which is good, too.
- The fourth level is a "game" level. It has two different games (that I've observed.) One has the light dots appear in a random order and the kids are suppose to guess while it's forming what letter it is. I have trouble guessing it right, and I think it's unnecessary and Early Bird just randomly pushes buttons and is bored with it. The other game has the kid follow a moving light with the stylus and when it's finished tells the kid what they drew (like a butterfly.) He likes that game better, but can't select it over the other one.
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