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We bought this for my daughter this year and although she is probably still a bit too young for it I think its an excellent way of introducing words and sounds and a visual way of showing her the pictures of the words as well. The Early Learning Centre describe this as a game that gets you to, "Match up the word cards with the pictures and letters. Great for learning letter names and phonic sounds."
The set comes with a red plastic tablet which is where you put the batteries and where the cards are placed and the speaker on it, a little owl figurine and a green case which holds all the cards in it. The little owl figurine looks like a little professor but actually doesn't really do anything but its a nice little toy and my little girl calls this game the owl game.
I find the case quite handy as it means when you are packing everything up you have a specific place to put it and hopefully this way no cards get lost. The green holder then sits ontop of the red tablet when not in use.
There are 26 picture pairs and word cards and they are pretty much the first words that every child should begin to know. For example, A is apple. You get a picture card with a nice picture of a big red juicy apple and an A and an a on opposite sides of the card. I like that is shows both lower case and upper case letters as these are important to learn. Other pictures include an elephant, a house, a dog, an umbrella to name but a few. They you have 26 words cards which just simply have the corresponding word written on them in plain black writing. These words are easy to read and all begin with a capital letter.
On the side of the red tablet there is a button which you can push one of two ways. In one game you simple place the card on the unit and it will say for example, Tree, - tree begins with the letter T. This is the simple game and is quite effective and my little girl likes this one as she can easily place a card on there and like to hear what it does.
The other game you can play is a bit more in depth and involves the unit asking you to find the matching card to the other one that you have placed on the unit. For example if you put the Igloo word card on the unit it will ask you to find the Igloo picture and if you get the right one on there it will tell you correct, you have found the Igloo.
What I also like about these cards is that they are just fun to use on their own as a sort of flash card and I usually find myself holding one up for my little girl to see and asking her what letter is on it or what picture is on it.
This is a really great game if your child is learning to read or it can be fun to just use as a game of words and pictures.
The purpose of this game is to encourage simple letter and phonic sound recognition by matching up word cards with pictures and letters.
I bought this for my 4 year old son as he is starting school in September (-eek!) and I wanted to develop his knowledge of letter names and sounds and knowing that B, b and b (said phonetically) are the same letter!
The game is good but I was a little disappointed to discover that there are only 17 pairs- the letters J, K, L Q, R, V, X, Y and Z are missing. This did get my little boy a bit cross as he wanted to spell out his name and he couldn't as there was no L!
Early Learning Centre categorises its educational toys into 'steps' to indicate what learning level it is aimed at. This game is classed as step 2 which indicates that it is for the 'preparing for school' stage. This does contradict with the suggested age limits of 4-8, I would say the upper age limit is closer to 6 unless a child particularly struggles with basic phonic work.
The game consists of a base unit ( requires 3AA batteries) with spaces for 2 cards, 17 pairs of picture/word cards, a storage box for the cards (prevents lost pieces and handy for taking on journeys) and a little owl that makes the whole learning process a bit more novelty and fun!
The cards are made from thick durable card and everything else is made from a sturdy plastic.
I am not sure how the mechanisms of it work and how the unit knows what card is placed on it- probably magnetic or weighted.
The game is very simple to set up and easy to play There are 2 play modes- one is more of an initial learning mode where you place a card in one of the spaces on the unit and listen out for the letter names, phonic sounds and simple words. The game uses a clear, English accent to say simple phrases such as 'Parrot- parrot begins with the letter P' when the word parrot is placed on the unit or 'mieow- cat' when the picture of a cat is placed on it.
The other way of playing is to place a card in one of the spaces on the unit and then you will be asked to find the corresponding card with either appropriate letter sounds, letter names or words and pictures. The unit uses phrases such as 'can you find the letter that sounds like B (said as a phonic) as in bed?' when the word bed is placed on the unit and 'can you find the word gate?' when the picture of the gate is placed on the unit.
If you get a correct match then you will hear a 'ding- correct you found the word bed' etc if you do not find the match then you will hear the unit say the incorrect word followed with 'oops try again' and then repeats the question. This is a friendly way of correcting and as you are given unlimited attempts, there is no element of failure.
The game is reasonably versatile, even though the age range is rather small. The way my little boy started playing was simply matching the letters, for example if he placed the word fish on the unit, he would look for the letter f on the picture cards rather than the word itself, this is because he is at the very first stages of learning to recognise letters etc. As he progresses he can use the game in the more advanced ways.
As children progress even further, it would however no longer be suitable as the game only concentrates on the letter sound when at the beginning of a word and does not introduce alternative sounds for that letter, just the main, basic one. (e.g. 'i' would be taught using only igloo as an example not ice/idea/I etc.)
The picture cards are a great opportunity for discussion. You can ask your child questions about what is shown, encouraging them to talk about it. Its also good fun to create new games such as trying to think of a rhyming word or something else that is red, begins with A, is round etc.
Each picture card has the letter of what the thing begins with in the corners of the card, they are shown in both upper and lower case which is particularly useful for little ones learning their letters.
The game cost £13 and is only available from Early Learning Centre (online store available).
Although it is good and we play with it quite often, in hindsight after playing it, it wasn't as good as it first seemed, mainly due to the missing letters and the repetitiveness of it- I do sometimes wonder if he is actually learning the letters from it or just using it as a matching game- in which case there are a lot better and cheaper matching games on the market.
Although not wowed by this game, it does provide an additional teaching tool to keep kids interested and appeal to more hands on learners.
I wouldn't encourage you to rush to buy this game, but it maybe a worthwhile purchase if you've tried alternative approaches to get kids interested in learning letters without any luck.
Likewise if you are stuck what to spend vouchers on (as if in ELC!) or you're child gets this as a gift, it is still an enjoyable game that will provide fun as well as educational benefits.