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Reading Software Reviews

Reading with Phonics is Fun!
from Arrow Publishing

For Ages 4 to Adult

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other reading software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.


Reviewed on:
Reading with Phonics is Fun! Screen Shot PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD

Description
Don't let the word "fun" in the title of this program be misleading. Aside from a cheery musical accompaniment and a quasi-attempt at rudimentary animation, there is not much to Reading with Phonics is Fun that can be viewed as fun. Reading with Phonics is not about fun, it is about learning one of life's required skills, a venture that many will argue is intrinsically fun, but is also just plain hard work.

The program is divided into a number of sections. The first two include multiple frames that lead the user through such basics as the ABCs, consonant sounds, vowel sounds, consonant blends, vowel and consonant digraphs, colors, numbers and more. Each screen is displayed much like a flashcard, including the targeted letter, letters or word, a written and spoken example, and an illustrative example. A narrator reads each letter or word slowly and carefully, demonstrating for the student appropriate diction and pronunciation. Following narration, the illustration traverses the screen.

Subsequent sections build upon and reinforce lessons taught in the first two. An interactive book section includes many early-reader stories that look quite similar to old school reading textbooks. Each screen features a story page with text that highlights as it is narrated, encouraging the reader to follow along. Stories require an advanced-beginner level of reading proficiency, commencing with full sentences and medium-difficulty words. Story content is uninspiring.

The final two sections of the program include a "words to know" resource that provides commonly used words to review and memorize, and a "self check" section that allows the user to test his or her knowledge of some of the words addressed in the program. Aside from program navigation, this is virtually the only truly interactive part of the program, the remainder can be set on 'auto' and watched much like a video.

Educational Value
There is no disputing the educational value of this program. If used with dedication and a focused desire to learn the lessons put forth, it will help students learn to read. It doesn't try to sugar-coat the process -- learning to read involves repetition and practice -- and Reading with Phonics is Fun! provides for both.

Kid Appeal
Created primarily as an educational tool, this program is not likely to entertain or amuse any child. It is, however, simple enough for even a very young child to use independently, and basic enough for an older child or adult to use without feeling ill-at-ease, or foolish.

Ease of Install / Use
This program installed easily on our review PCs.

Although program navigation is quite simple, our testers were occasionally frustrated by the slow reaction time for some of the navigational buttons.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Reading with Phonics is Fun! is an excellent resource for motivated students who want to learn to read, or improve reading skills and desire a no-frills program to help achieve that goal.

Education 4.8/5.0 Kid Appeal 2.5/5.0 Ease of Use 4.9/5.0
5=Excellent, 4=Good, 3=OK, 2=Weak

See also the Summary Rating Table for comparisons with other Reading software titles, and the SuperKids Buyers Guide for current market prices of PC and Mac versions.



Children's Software System Requirements


PC

Macintosh
Operating System Windows 3.1 or later System 7.0 or higher
CPU Type and Speed 386Mhz or higher LCII or newer
Hard Drive Space n/a n/a
Memory (RAM) 4MB 4MB
Graphics 256 color capability 256 color capability
CD-ROM Speed

Audio Sound card required
Other Needs Color monitor Color monitor

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