Friday, May 20, 2011

Wordy Qwerty

Last fall our family reviewed a wonderful little program called Read, Write and Type.  This program teaches children to read and type, and now the company behind Read, Write and Type has also created another program, Wordy Qwerty.  Designed for children who have finished Read Write and type, or children ages 7-9, this program attempts to teach spelling through a series of games and songs. 
It is really unlike Read, Write and Type in almost every way, except for the format of the stories.  While Read, Write and Type has the children working to rescue all of the letter sounds, in Wordy Qwerty they are working towards the building of a “music machine”.  They go through a series of games for each spelling rule, and earn ‘spheres’ for the robots to use on the machine.  After learning a rule the children get to watch part of the music machine being built.  Each spelling rule, or pattern, includes the following games:
Photobucket1. The introduction to the pattern, where the children type the word and then sort them.  There is no grading here as far as spelling, so if the child misspells one of these words they are just corrected and then they move on.  The idea is for the child to start recognizing the patterns.
2. The music.  The child hears a jingle about the pattern being learned, and then they get the chance to sing a karaoke version themselves.
3. The Recycler:  This is a machine that recycles words… there is two different spellings for word families, such as '”-ail” and “-ale”, and the machine adds different letters in the beginning to make words.  The child then decided which is the correct spelling, or if they both are, as in “sale” and “sail”.  There are no ‘rules’ to be learned in this section, so the idea is to learn to recognize the correct spelling through repetition. 
Photobucket4. Pop a word game.  This game is full of balloons!  A short 4-word sentence is typed across the bottom of the screen and read to the child, and then it disappears.  The words from the sentence then begin appearing in balloons and the child has to pop the words in the correct order.  the correct words are mixed up with similarly spelled words, to challenge the child to really learn the hard words fluently.
Photobucket5.  Writing Stories.  This is where the resemblance to Read, Write and Type comes out.  A short story will appear and the child will hear it being read.  Then, the bottom of the two lines will disappear and the child is to type it out.  When a wrong letter is typed, the word becomes black and the child has to try again.  After the line is typed correctly a picture will pop up, and then you can continue on to the next page of the story. 
Photobucket6. Read Stories.  This is the last activity for each spelling rule.  There is a story several pages long, with missing words.  The child clicks on a drop-down menu beside each blank in the story to select the correct word.  This requires fluent reading, comprehension, and spelling skills. 
These same games are repeated for each now spelling rule, or pattern.  There are 20 spelling rules all together, from the simple silent ‘e’ to more difficult plural rules and the different spellings for the ‘er’ sound.  As your child progresses through these lessons, they collect more and more spheres and build more of the music machine. 
So how did it work for us?  Well, to be honest, we didn’t get very far through the program.  Bop just turned 6, but she has successfully completed Read Write and Type twice (she wanted to go through it again because she enjoyed it so much) and she is reading at a 1st or 2nd grade level, depending on who you ask.  I thought that she was ready to go ahead with Wordy Qwerty, but we have had some trouble with it.  I think that if we give her a few months she would be flying through it, but right now it’s not that easy.  The spelling rules are easily within her comprehension, but the games themselves are harder.  This is definitely designed for older children then Read Write and Type, as stated.  She enjoys some of the activities, but some of them are tougher.  We have worked together on them, and she is moving steadily on.
As for me, I like this program almost as much as Read, Write and Type.  I think the games are very well-designed and thought out, and they are effective.  There are some parts that are a little frustrating for the children, but for the most part this is a fun and thoughtful way to learn basic spelling rules.  Several of us reviewers did find that the online version that we are reviewing tends to freeze sometimes, but this is a very new program, and for us it did not effect the usability overall.
I think this program could be useful for independent children, who like to work alone, children who are struggling with spelling being ‘boring’, and anyone who wants a fun, easy way to teach spelling without teaching at all!  Wordy Qwerty is available as either a installable program or a online subscription.  A home license can be purchased for $35.00, or you can go with the online subscription which starts at $25.00 for one user, for 5 years.  You can archive your user and then add another one when they are finished, so this is a great option for homeschooling families who will have several users throughout the 5 years. 
Visit Talking Fingers to find out how you can get a free trial of Wordy Qwerty before you buy, and check out all of the other reviews at The Old Schoolhouse review crew’s blog
I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
You can visit The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog
to read more reviews on this product.

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