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spacer all reviews > > > reading software

Leap Into Phonics

Bright Start Inc.

Ages 3 to 7

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
4.8
Kid Appeal
3.8
Ease of Use
4.8

Leap Into Phonics Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

Although Leap Into Phonics is not nearly as fancy as some of the other reading programs on the market, it provides children with a good solid introduction to phonics, helping prepare them for reading and spelling success.

Leap Into Phonics features a game-board like main screen, the ideal analogy for the journey the child takes on the road to reading readiness. It begins with the very basics -- recognizing and identifying familiar animal sounds and remembering sequences of animal characters, and moves through nursery rhyme appreciation and rhyming games, to letters and letter-sound recognition and identification. Each section includes a simple activity or drill, with complete audio instruction, a demonstration and explanation of the appropriate response, attractive illustrations, and enthusiastic accolades for correct answers. The program is designed to be used as a group of progressive activities, an overall lesson that builds phonics skills, reinforcing previous concepts as it introduces new ones.

Educational Value
Leap Into Phonics includes eight main sections, each addressing an important phonics skill. These sections do not assume previous knowledge and understanding of the skill. Instead, each activity is designed to teach a concept, and then reinforce it in an amusing way. For example, the “sounds in words” component is designed to teach children to hear the separate sounds in words. This is done by tapping them out on the keys of a xylophone, where each key plays a different letter sound. “Cat“ becomes c-a-t, three unique xylophone taps. In a subsequent section, letters from the same words appear on an accordion. Here the now distinct sounds are squeezed together to form the word, modeling the blending of the sounds that make up a word. Each activity includes instruction and demonstration as well as lots of drill opportunities.

Kid Appeal
Leap Into Phonics is not the type program that looks like Saturday morning cartoon time to the child. It looks and feels like school and like learning time. Which is not to say that it can’t be fun. Success is often its own reward and its own enticement as well. Leap Into Phonics takes the user step by step through the learning process, ensuring a true understanding of the subject material, rather than throwing things at a student that might be correctly answered without a legimate grasp on the concepts or skills involved.

Although our kid reviewers didn’t rave about this program, they did like it, and commented that they would play it again if given the opportunity. Teachers reported that it is the type of program that works well in a classroom setting because it doesn’t require a lot of lead-in time to play an activity, a problem they encounter with quest-type programs. They also approved of its teaching method and mentioned that it helped identify problem areas for struggling readers, for example, one student recognized beginning and ending sounds without a pause but had trouble with middle or vowel sounds.

Ease of Use / Install
Leap Into Phonics runs direct from the CD-ROM, a definite plus for home and classroom use. Navigation is simple and straightforward, and options include turning off accompanying music and/or using headphones.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
Leap Into Phonics provides an excellent introduction to phonics as well as early reading and spelling. It is especially recommended for children who need remedial attention, or who are distracted by programs with complex stories and fancy graphics.

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

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1 or higher, 486/66 or faster cpu, 16 MB RAM, SVGA card for 256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM, 8-bit sound blaster or 100% compatible sound card.

Mac: System 7.1 or higher, 68040/33 or faster cpu, 8 MB RAM (16 MB recommended), 256 color display, Double-speed or faster CD-ROM.

Reviewed on:

  • PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
  • Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
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