Mar 19, 2013

Teach Your Monster To Read: Update

Our progress with TYMTR after the first month of playing.

T, my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, has been playing Usborne's Teach Your Monster to Read about once a day since we discovered it four weeks ago. Over this time it's become a firm part of her daily routine, and it's a joy to watch her work with it.

On the days we haven't played (when we ran behind schedule for bedtime, etc.), T was not pleased. If it were up to her, she'd play it hours on end, several times a day - but she's stuck with me so a letter a day it is.

Speaking of which: I've found a way to get T to get some more practice within the game. I start off with one letter / sound; the monster gets her prize (because yes, T tells me it's a girl monster called Jessy); we move on to the next letter / sound - but I press quit just before the monster gets her prize. That way, we have to pratice the letter again the next day, and thus the cycle restarts.


As far as I can see, T learns the most from the princess minigame. Flowers and factory are too fast-paced for her - though playing has definitely improved her cursor skills - while sheep and aliens are too easy. I'm sure there's some dissent about the fact that the princess has to be rescued, but T LOVES it (and the princess does punch evil Dr. Tentacle at the end, though that's probably yet another thing about which people can get het up). At the beginning T would only play sitting on my lap, mostly so I could rescue the cursor when it slipped off the screen. But as the sessions went on she's been doing it more and more independently. I still supervise to see how many mistakes she makes, and help her out if she gets completely stuck.

Meanwhile, my baby sister (aged eight) has caught on to TYMTR. She's a native German speaker who has English lessons once a week and watches English movies and television, and my parents and I figured the game would be good additional practice. Her monster ("Paula") was able to breeze through it pretty quickly - first island down in about 10 minutes - and from what I can see so far it's definitely improving her English from a phoenetic standpoint.


It's difficult to say, of course, how much TYMTR is doing on its own. Parallel to our sessions, we read lots of English and German picture books (current favorite: Curious George), and watch and listen to They Might Be Giants kids' songs and music videos (current favorite: "The Alphabet Lost and Found") - and together with TYMTR they're all reinforcing each other in a positive way. All in all, it's part of our routine, and we'll definitely keep up with it.

Pictures are from the game's website - where you an also print posters of your monster(s) - and guide (pdf).

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