Saturday, November 18, 2006


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.


Blogger Gill said...

I forgot to say that the other thing I like about the machine is that it sets out the alphabetical order.

Lyddie is finding her way around a querty keyboard, which is good, but not helpful when it comes to navigating indexes, phonebooks and dictionaries.

I'm glad she's got something to play with that demonstrates alphabetical order, because it's not something I'd want to teach unless she asked me to do so.

12:09 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

LOL how can I misspell qwerty?

The letters are in order in front of me... *rolls eyes*

12:13 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Allie said...

Glad someone enjoys Letterland 'cause I've always loathed it! I didn't like the way the shape of the letter gets masked by little heads and legs and so on. Also found the books tedious. And I have a vague memory that one of the characters is called 'hairy hat man', which just sounds sinister to me...

Have you ever blogged about how your older children learned to read?

2:23 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

ROFL @ Hairy Hat Man!

The older ones were at full-time school from 3.5ish Allie. Tom & Zara couldn't read before they went but Ali could on the quiet I think.

We'd just read lots at home before that which I think gave them a good start. Also their first school was a very good one - mainly just playing with good toys up to about age 7. Pity we moved house and went to the boot camp one after that.

But yes they learned at school and by themselves. I think the first school did phonics. I know they were in trouble for resisting the National Curriculum, bless 'em.

2:55 pm, November 18, 2006  
Anonymous Lucy B said...

Hello Gill,

If I bring you the Cat in the Hat cd rom, then L will learn the "ABC song" ... in an American accent ... Shout now if you'd rather I didn't copy it! lol

4:21 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

ROFL Lucy, go for it! It'll be funny, if nothing else :-) Thanks xx

5:42 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Rosie said...

`We have some letterland stuff. I let them play with the jigsaws etc themselves and Fergus has learnt all the characters himself. I think it does help him with recognising some letters, but I don't think he's ready for anything more just yet. The reading books are a bit boring but there are story books, which are just to introduce the characters, and they seem to like these.
Yes, I think hairy hat man is supposed to have a hairy hat, not be hairy! but IKWYM! I think in the new version he is called Harry hat man -yes, there are new PC characters- "naughty nick" is "noisy nick" that's why you can get the old stuff for next to nothing, but I dont care about the non-pc characters! and it doesnt seem to bother them at all having both the old and new stuff.

5:47 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh LL jigsaws would be good. I'll have a peep on ebay.

6:56 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Louise said...

Lol at the qwerty comment Gill. Does this mean you have found your camera then?

7:47 pm, November 18, 2006  
Anonymous Ruth said...

My two had the bus. They rode it around the house but never really bothered with the letters on it:)

10:09 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

No Lou, that's one I took from the website :) It's just the cable thats missing! no idea whats happened to it :(

LOL Ruth :)

11:44 pm, November 18, 2006  
Blogger Mother Damnable said...

Hi Gill

Aww Lyddie :>)

Thanks for adding me to your sidebar :>)

I've so much to tell you I'll e mail as soon as I have time, which e mail is best to use? (you can send it to my hotmail via blog if you'd like.)

I'm going to add your blog to my links, I want to add you as Gill Moonchild because that's how I always think of you.

Would that be OK with you?

10:31 am, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Nic said...

I've wondered about the aplphabet as neither of mine know it and aside from the need to put things in alphabetical order (filing or dictionaries) I can't think of any need for it. I think the qwerty one is of far more use (and actually I had to really make myself type qwerty rather than querty which felt more natural too lol!).

3:06 pm, November 20, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Sharon, that would be lovely! My email address is - I'll look forward to hearing your news :-)

Hi Nic, I find my rote-learned alphabet abilities really useful when studying - I'd struggle with book indexes without it.

Having said that it's probably something a person would learn very quickly if and when they needed the skill, like so many other things.

4:57 pm, November 20, 2006  

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