Talking Shapes Online (Crew Review)
About Talking Shapes
Talking Shapes is an online program that you can access through any computer or device with Internet access. It teaches phonics using pictures that children can associate with letters and their sounds. They practice writing the letters, reading the sounds, and creating words by putting letters together.
There are seven “books” users work their way through. As they complete the lessons in each book, they can see their progress on the main menu. Arianna completed three of the books during our review period, and each one used consonant-vowel-consonant words focusing on a particular short vowel sound.
I had high hopes for Talking Shapes. It seems like a fun concept to help children learn phonics. In actuality, however, it seems like the online version still needs a bit of fine tuning. (I haven’t used the app, but I’m guessing our frustrations were due to technical issues related to the new format.) I tried to let Arianna work independently while I was doing lessons with the boys, but she constantly was running into problems with things not working for her and I would have to tell her to just quit for the day, or else stop what I was doing and come over to click around or test things to get everything going again. (She uses several other online programs with no trouble, so I know it wasn’t just that she didn’t know how to use the computer.)
For example, she is okay with a mouse, but I thought using our touch screen computer would be a good way for her to practice writing letters. Unfortunately, we ran into all sorts of problems trying to use the touch screen (she couldn’t drag her finger without it adjusting the zoom, so she had to tap it just right, which proved frustrating). I finally gave up and just had her do the best she could with the mouse. It didn’t really matter, because she didn’t have to form the letter correctly; just scribbling over it made the letter appear.
Overall, I think Talking Shapes has a lot of potential. It really helped boost Arianna’s confidence in her reading skills, and I was glad to have a place for her to practice outside of her regular lessons.