ABC Mouse Review: Early Literacy Skills for Preschool

Lockdown has completely changed our lives the last few months and will forever leave its mark on the education world. Like so many other parents, I have had to adjust to working with a child at home 24/7. In the beginning, I was all about creating a routine for her that mimicked her school schedule, but in reality this was impossible for me with work. I realized I needed to find a way to provide my three year old with a quality education at home without much prep work on my end.

For years I had seen the commercials for ABC Mouse and read testimonials on the company’s website. In full disclosure, I was skeptical. It’s very easy for a company to make a product look good and hire actors to portray parents and educators. However, I needed a program that Molly could work on while I worked with students and ABC Mouse seemed like the best option, so I purchased a subscription. I have no affiliation with ABC Mouse, and the following are all of my personal and professional opinions as a teachermom.

As a Reading Specialist, I’m very picky with what I look for in a literacy curriculum. I believe in phonics, multi-sensory learning, and reading quality texts. As a parent, I know my child’s strengths and weaknesses and worry about her early literacy skills.

Being a virtual teacher and tutor has made me quite tech savvy in navigating online programs. I can say that ABC Mouse is one of the most user-friendly apps I have used. It has a great balance of games, puzzles, art and music and academics. The concept of the classroom is fantastic for familiarizing little ones with a classroom environment.

Since Molly is a technically a preschooler, that is the level I have her profile set as. When I want her to work on different skills I have her continue her progress through the white board. One activity could involve counting, and the next could focus on practicing colors. The constant change in topics keeps her engaged, and the clear directions allow her to figure out the activities on her own, which is super important as a working mom.

When I want Molly to really focus on specific skills, I have her access the different options at the top of the classroom (reading, math, world around us, art, songs, library, puzzles, and games). I will admit, I do have her spend lots of time in reading and the library.

In the reading section, kids have a few different options for practicing their reading skills. Since Molly is at the preschool level, the activities revolve around the alphabet, letters and sounds. Molly can choose to listen to a library of books about letters, short stories, nursery rhymes and more. They program reads everything to her in a loud, clear voice and really emphasizes individual sounds when necessary. This is a fantastic option for learning phonics. Molly can also play games with letters and the alphabet. They even focus on ideas like capital letters. I LOVE that they have a tracing game for Molly to physically practice writing her letters, making this a great multi-sensory option. The puzzles section allows Molly to click and drag pieces with letters and pictures. The arts and music category offers “painting” activities with letters and songs about each letter to reinforce phonics skills. Everything in the app is very visual, with pictures used to support whatever the letter is, which also supports multi-sensory learning. Molly ABC Mouse

And my absolute favorite feature is the library. This digital library is jam packed with some great characters that kids will recognize. There are tons of options including Curious George, Disney princesses, Pixar, Marvel, National Geographic and more. There is a good balance between fiction and nonfiction texts that are engaging for young readers. Molly is a huge fan of the princesses, so she usually chooses one of those titles. Parents and kids can search using the categories button to filter all of the different choices. Since Molly can’t read on her own yet, I usually have her pick a text from the ‘Read to Me’ category. When she clicks on one of these, the text will read the story to her automatically, just like I would during a read aloud. But wait, it gets better! While the story is being read to Molly, it highlights the word as the voice reads it!! This is by far my most favorite feature in the entire app because it helps her practicing “reading”.

While I was very hesitant at first about using an app to continue Molly’s education during this time, I am truly so glad I took the chance. She has become more independent with learning and wants to do ABC Mouse. She usually works in the app for an hour a day and I have seen a growth in her skills since she started. The app is a good supplement for supporting early literacy skills at home and I would highly recommend it for all learners.

For more information about ABC Mouse click here.

For more information about Little Reading Coach’s online tutoring services click here. 

Spring Song Book Review

 

As a mom of a toddler, I’m always looking for quality children’s books with multi-sensory elements to help keep her engaged. Instinctively, I go for touchy-feely books, or noisy books so she can press buttons.

Spring Song by Anetta Kotowicz and illustrated by Nina Ezhik, is a delightful, multi-sensory story to use with preschool aged children. Not only is it a picture book, but there is also a Youtube playlist to accompany the reading, in addition to some great crafts and activity ideas.

I’ve been teaching figurative language with my students for the last nine years, so the teacher in me gets excited when I see these elements used in any type of text. The use of sensory details and onomatopoeia makes this a super fun story to read! When reading this with preschool children, I would have students repeat the onomatopoeias after me because there are so many. It gives kids a chance to practice saying new words and makes them feel like they’re also reading the story.

In my experience as a Reading Specialist, a lot of my students benefit from additional auditory support when interacting with a text. The Spring Song playlist on Youtube provides young readers with four different songs that correlate to the story. Songs are available on Arts Kindred Magic YouTube channel under Spring Song playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVltdElxMWR0dMxq1sVmv3iKhgJ7_m2N9

The e-text does have an icon to click which takes listeners right to the song for that page. Readers can sing along with the story. This is a fabulous way to introduce little ones to reading! If you want to practice reading skills, I suggest reading this text on a tablet and pointing to the words in the songs while singing.

A great surprise is what is included at the end of the book for parents and teachers. There are pages of additional craft ideas and a game. The game involves kids doing an action (clap your hands, act like a bird, etc). This is perfect for a preschool classroom!

Interested in this fabulous book? Check it out on Amazon.

 

For additional texts and information, feel free to check out www.ArtsKindred.com . Summer Song was just published and there are ones for Fall and Winter!