Someone has kindly given us a Letterland book and electronic machine-thing (pictured left). I had mixed feelings about it because it's bright and garish and very plasticy and noisy, but I do like the concept of giving the letters names and characters.
The game-thing is quite old and simple, and has an option which just repeatedly asks questions, in a funny school-ma'am voice, like: "Where is Sammy Snake?" The child must press the right letter to get a new question. Every time the child presses the letter, it announces who it is in it's own voice, like: "I am Naughty Nick," "I am Annie Apple," etc.
I like the fact that it doesn't say whether the answer is right or wrong, it just keeps repeating the question until the child presses the right button. So it's a learning process, as opposed to a winning and losing/ succeeding and failing process. I don't like things that indicate WRONG answers in a learning process, because one of the key factors in learning is confidence and as we all know, being repeatedly told we are WRONG does nothing for our confidence and only makes us want to give up.
Lyddie plays with it for about 5-10 minutes at a time. It's just laying around with her other toys. I'm certainly not doing anything to 'encourage' her to play with it - I don't think that kind of intervention is either effective or wise. She enjoys playing with it on her terms even though she's not always getting all the answers straight away. Finding out the one that leads to a new question just adds to the fun for her.
She's had the thing for about 3 days now, (It stayed in the bag for a few days before that, because I'd kind of forgotten about it.) and has gone from not knowing any of the letters to guessing most of them right first time this morning, in that space of time.
What we don't know yet is how well this translates into actually reading. I'm not sure if she's making a link with the shapes, the little people with names, and the sound the letter is supposed to recognise - I suspect not at this stage.
But we're still stitching letters, so hopefully that will help too. If our silky 'S' has the same shape as Letterland's Sammy Snake then I think it will come, in its own good time.
We haven't even looked at the book yet. I'm waiting until she brings it to me to read.