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SuperKids Software Review - The Parent's and Teacher's Guide to Childrens' Software
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Dr. Peet's Talk/Writer

Dr. Peet's Software

Ages 3 to 8

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
Kid Appeal
Ease of Use

Dr. Peet's Talk/Writer Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Language skills are learned through a combination of exposure, instruction and experimentation. When children first learn to speak, they repeat what they hear, make inferences about the rules they are learning, and test these inferences over and over as their linguistic skills grow. When kids learn to read and write, however, the model used is generally exposure and instruction, with much of the discovery and experimentation ignored. This method works well for many children, but it may not work for all children. In addition, it may not be the easiest or best way to teach kids to read and write.

Dr. Peet's Talk/Writer attempts to use a word processor, along with text to speech technology, to add the discovery and experimentation to teaching children to read and write. Children hear each letter, word and sentence spoken, as they type. They can string letters together and get immediate feedback on the words that are formed. They can create journal entries, write letters and compose emails, and with each activity their understanding of the general rules of phonics will grow.

Educational Value
The program itself includes two learning modules. The first is aimed at the youngest learners. This section presents the ABCs via photo and song. A 'find the letter' section provides letter sound and recognition drills, while a 'write words' section provides for beginning word building. As their literacy develops, kids can move on to longer compositions, aided by a talking picture dictionary which can be easily customized to include any number of words and pictures. In addition, an email tool takes kids step-by-step through the letter or email writing process. It offers greeting and closing options, a preschooler-friendly address book, and a safe and easy way for emails to be sent through the adult monitored guide.

Talk/Writer offers special features for children with visual and physical challenges. When options aimed at visually challenged children are selected, Talk/Writer not only speaks each letter and word, but also announces cursor movements and all punctuation. In addition, Talk/Writer can be set to say each letter when depressed once, and type the letter only when depressed a second time. Scanning is available for Single-Switch Access users (also see Edmark's TouchFree Switch). Letters scan at a rate chosen by the teacher or user, and any device that will trigger a left mouse click can be used to select the desired letter.

The school version of this program comes with a flipbook Activities Guide that can be placed beside the computer for handy access.

Kid Appeal
As is sometimes the case with educational software, our kid testers were only mildly intrigued by this program. The ABC pictures and song were well-liked, as was the picture dictionary, but preschoolers were unable to attend to the program for any extended periods of time and gravitated to the mesmerizing animation of more commercial software programs. Parents, on the other hand, were quite impressed by Talk/Writer and gave it excellent scores in all areas. "I imported photos for each email address so that my daughter understood who she was writing to," was one parent's comment, "it made her anxious to learn to send email on her own."

Ease of Use / Install
This program is easy to install and uninstall. It is important to note, however, that the user's computer must be restarted following the installation process. It requires a hefty 195MB of free hard drive space, so is not recommended for users with older computers.

The program itself includes a user's manual and help module which is accessed from the guide button at the top of the main screen. Online tech support is sparse, but our questions were enthusiastically answered over the phone by Dr. Peet himself!

Best for... / Bottom-Line
This easy-to-use word processing program allows early learners to experiment with written and spoken language in a friendly, encouraging format. It acts as a tool that can grow with the child, teaching written language and keyboarding skills that will transfer to more mature word processing programs. Additionally, Talk/Writer is an excellent resource for visually and physically challenged, and learning disabled children.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other preschool software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 95/98, 2000, 210 MB hard drive space, full multi-media, CD-ROM drive.

Mac: System 7.1 and above,

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium 450 with 128MB and 24xCD
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