The familiar saying “Practice makes perfect” is true for many concepts in education, but it is especially true when applied to the process of learning to read. Young children need to be immersed in the steps involved with learning letters and words over a long period of time. Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears uses characters from the fairy tale to teach basic reading and writing skills to children ages 6-8 in a child friendly way.
Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears was developed by Fizzbrain LLC for iPad. All of the apps in their Touch and Write series incorporate a multi-faceted approach. Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears is a comprehensive app, focusing on reading, decoding, word recognition, and writing. There are three ways that a child can use the app.
- First, it is an extended version of the traditional fairy tale, with all the characters included. The story comes in two modes, Read by Myself and Read to Me.
- Second, it’s word recognition practice. The words are taken directly from the story, so that children can hear them used in the context of a sentence. This is important so that the connection between the spoken word and the written word can be made.
- Finally, it provides practice writing the words, using a variety of materials, including virtual shaving cream, frosting, pudding and paint.
There are complete instructions for all these activities provided on the directions page. Because Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears has so many components, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with all the buttons ahead of time. Across the top of each page are the links to the skill pages (reading, decoding, and writing). There are many options here, so the experience can be new each time.
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Fizzbrain emphasizes all of the aspects of literacy development in their apps- reading, writing, and decoding, and I appreciate that. Apps that focus on one skill present only one piece of the literacy puzzle. I would strongly recommend parents enjoy Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears all the way through the first time, without stopping to explore the reading and writing capabilities. Talk about the concepts introduced in the story- the size concepts, the cause and effect, the sequence of events. Then, once the story is familiar and comfortable, go back and look at the words, read them, write them, and sound them out.
I found the artwork in Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears to be whimsical and clever. Using a recognizable fairy tale makes learning about reading more enjoyable, because it takes a familiar story and shows how the individual words look and how they go together to make the story.
In my opinion, the phonetic portion of the app is the least successful. Phonetic representations (the sounds the letters make) only work when a word follows phonetic rules. For example, upon follows phonetic rules because each sound says its name, and put together, the sounds make the word. Bear does not follow the rules because the two vowels create a sound that is unexpected, and this can be confusing. It’s fine to show your child how words can be broken down into individual sounds, but don’t get hung up on the ones that are different. Overall, Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears is an ambitious effort to help children learn to be better readers.
Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears is availabe for download via the iTunes App Store - iPad
RRP - $2.99/£1.99/€2.69
At the time of this review, Touch and Write Storybook: The 3 Bears provides a safe, secure environment, with no access to social media and no ads. The app does contain links to its other apps in the App Store, accessible only from a well-protected parent portal. Parents can be confident their child’s privacy is protected when using the app.
Review by Julie Peterson, a speech/language pathologist (SLP) currently working in a school setting, serving children with special needs ages 6-14.
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Disclosure: This review was move up the waiting list priority-services. All opinions expressed are purely that of the author.