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Monday, April 19, 2010

Alphabets Beats Review

When I learned to write my letters and numbers, my teacher had mimeographed booklets that contained a rhyme and coloring page for each letter/number. I still remember some of them to this day ("Around the tree and around the tree, that's 3."). So I was excited to receive Alphabets Beats to review, as it employs the same concept to teach today's students the correct way to write their letters.

Alphabet Beats is distributed by TV Teacher. They are DVDs that can be viewed on your TV or on the computer. The upper case letters and lower case letters are on separate DVDs. Each DVD has an intro, and then different chapters for each letter, so you can watch and learn them one at a time. Miss Marnie is your TV Teacher, and she introduces each letter with high quality pictures of words that start with that letter, demonstrations of actions or concepts that begin with that letter (my daughter LOVED the "alone" part of the lower case "a" chapter), and the actual rhyme and writing of the letter. Each chapter is 4-5 minutes long, and it is suggested that parents view it with the child the first time, so you can learn the rhyme and assist your child in making the letter correctly. The first time through each chapter, the child WATCHES the video, and does not write while watching. After that first viewing, if the child wants to write while watching, that is fine.

The pros: This totally keys into the way I learned my letters. Tons of studies show that rhyme/songs help children to memorize, and these short rhymes are easy to learn and apply. My daughter can write all her letters, but until Alphabet Beats, her "a" looked like a circle with a random stick coming out of it-usually looking more like a balloon than an "a". My daughter (who is 5) really enjoyed watching the sections, and she we have definitely seen an implement in her letter writing. So much so, that I think I will make my older kids (who for some reason, even with using HWOT, start all their letters at the bottom, which makes me crazy) watch them too. The chapters are short and colorful and engaging. Marnie reminds me a bit of Miss Pattycake, but my daughter enjoyed her for the same reason.

The cons: Price, price, price. Each DVD is $35. OUCH! To get both the upper case and lower case, it is a package price of $64.99. WOW, that is steep to me. I know it's expensive for small companies to produce quality stuff, but as homeschoolers, we have such limited funds, and for me this would be much more reasonable at $15 instead of $35. Especially since you need two DVDs to cover upper and lower case (we had a choice which to review, so I chose lower case since you really write those letters MUCH more than upper case,).

The Bottom Line: I think these DVDs are high quality, and the teach concept behind them is sound. They introduce over 8 vocabulary words per letter, so there is a broader application than just letter writing. But $35 per DVD or $64.99 for the pair just is a huge stumbling block personally to my homeschool. I have 4 kids at four different levels, so to take such a large chunk of our budget on one skill for the youngest child just is not good economy of funds for us. That might be different for you, so I encourage you to check out their website and the sample lesson they have on it HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: I received a copy of alphabet beats (lower case) for my daughter and I to review. That DVD was the only compensation I received for this review.

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