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Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Alphabet Beats


We’ve had quite a flood of preschool products lately, and Peter is enjoying helping Mama check them out. First up is Alphabet Beats from The TV Teacher, a program designed to combine visual and audio learning to teach proper letter formation.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of the Upper Case Alphabet Beats DVD for review purposes. I received no other compensation.

At age 4, Peter is in the beginning stages of writing. He understands that letters make up words, and he likes to practice randomly “drawing” letters he remembers or has seen and make up the words that they say. I chose the Upper Case DVD (there’s a lower case DVD available, too) to help him learn the proper way to form the letters.

The DVD menu of Alphabet Beats allows you to choose your letter:

ABlowercasedvdmenu Each letter chapter is very short, less than 5 minutes. The idea is that after watching a segment, you’ll adjourn to a table and practice making the letter on paper.

Ms. Marnie, the TV Teacher, introduces each letter by tracing it with her finger and saying a chant (for instance, “long line down, one hop around, slide down, the letter R”) as a reminder of the correct way to form the letter. The rest of the segment consists of Ms. Marnie writing the letter on paper (while saying the chant) and on a chalkboard (while saying the chant), talking about a colorful objects (a red rectangle, a rhino, and a rocket), drawing (a rainbow), talking about abstract concepts (remember), and singing songs (Row, row, row your boat). It's a varied mix of stills, video, and activity.

Ms. Marnie has, what you might call, a “bubbly personality.” All smiles, exaggerated speech and hand movements, intended to keep a young child’s attention. And it works. Peter loves watching this video. Letter after letter. And he’s been writing more and more letters. The other day he filled pages and pages with (seemingly) random letters. Most were well formed. And pretty straight on an unlined page. As long as Peter remains enthusiastic, we’ll continue with this. The Alphabet Beats letter style is essentially “ball and stick,” so we will eventually have to transition to our chosen handwriting style (Italic), but I don’t think that will be a problem.

Alphabet Beats Upper Case DVD is available for $35.

The Lower Case DVD is available for $35, too. Or buy both for $64.99.

There are also spiral-bound workbooks available for $4.49-4.99 each.

You can view a free demo of the Alphabet Beats Lower Case DVD here.

For review of this and the Lower Case DVD, head over to:


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