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The ELC Phonics Desk is described as an, "Interactive game unit teaching phonics, spelling and counting with flashing keys plus sounds and tunes."
The desk is basically a round keyboard with a handy carry handle at the bottom/top with which your child can carry it around. Then on the board are the letters of the alphabet in lower case a-z written on 26 pushable buttons. These buttons all have the letter written on them, for example a, then a word that begins with that letter, apple and also a picture of the item. The rest of the letters and words are as follows:
b - ball
c - car
d - dog
e - egg
f - fish
g - guitar
h - hat
i - ink
j - jam
k - key
l - lion
m - mouse
n - nose
o - orange
p - penguin
q - queen
r - rainbow
s - sun
t - tree
u - umbrella
v - van
w - web
x - x-ray
y - yo-yo
z - zebra
What I like about these words is that they are simple first words that most children learn pretty quickly so its nice to have them in written and visual form for them to start learning. The buttons are easily pressed and you can see that these buttons light up too as they are all made up different coloured see through plastic for the light to shine through. The colours included are red, yellow, blue, orange, green, white, purple and pink so a nice spectrum and good for teaching colours too.
At the top of the keyboard is an off switch and also a switch that lets your child choose from 8 different games and functions all to do with learning the alphabet and words and letters.
For example the first function is all about learning your abc. The keyboard asks you to press a letter to hear its name and sound. When you press a letter, for example S the keyboard will tell you this is an S and its sounds like sssss. We mostly play with this one right now because my little girl has only just turned three so she is not reading yet but hopefully this game/toy is a good way of helping her start to read. Another one that we like is can you find the letter game where it asks you to find different letters, for example, "can you find M as in mouse," and so you need to press the M. I mainly do this with her but its a great way of talking about letters and finding them and beginning to recognise the,.
One of the other games that I think is a bit harder but will be great in a few months is the can you find the mystery letter where you need to press buttons until you find which one the computer has picked. It's a bit of a weird game and my daughter at the moment just likes to press the buttons but I'm sure she'll get it in a little while.
The games are as follows:
Game 1: Letter names and sounds
Press a letter key to hear its name and sound (phonics).
Game 2: Find the letter
Try to find the spoken letter within three attempts.
Game 3: Find the mystery letter
Try to find the mystery letter within five attempts.
Game 4: Find the first letter
The unit will ask you to find the first letter of a spoken word.
Game 5: Learn to spell
The unit will ask you to spell different words.
Game 6: Learn to count
The unit will ask you to press a specific number of keys.
Game 7: Learn about colours
The unit will ask you to find a specific colour.
Game 8: Music time
Press a key and hear a tune. The keys will flash while the music is being played.
The desk is rather annoying if you keep it on and don't touch it as it keeps repeating itself until you press one of the buttons in a quite electronic voice but that's easily overlooked. The desk takes 3 AAA batteries which go in the back of the desk. You will need a little screw driver in order to open up the battery case. The lights on this toy are great as I think it looks very appealing to a child and in my opinion is a great way to start introducing the alphabet into everyday play. THe desk costs £20 from The Early Learning Centre.
Eight fun games focusing on phonics. Also includes spelling and counting. With 26 light and flash keys plus sounds and tunes.
Requires 3 x AA batteries.