Learning phonics and phonemic awareness can be difficult for young readers just starting to make sense of the English language, but Leap Frog has done it again with a collection of amazing educational videos.
These videos were researched and bought by my wife during a brief period where she was concerned about the speech development rate of our son. They added much value to our educational DVDs library and are an excellent follow up to Meet the Sight Words by helping with learning phonics and phonemic awareness.
The Leap Frog learning phonics series includes titles such as Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, Let’s Go to School, Talking Words Factory 2 - Code Word Caper and Learn to Read At the Storybook Factory.
The Leap Frog Letter Factory is an early reading skills DVD that demonstrates the alphabet, letter names and their sounds. It is an animated cartoon film running 35 minutes long directed by Roy Allen Smith at Lions Gate studio in Santa Monica, California. The story follows Leap, Lily and Tad as they go on a wild adventure to the Letter Factory. Professor Quigley takes them to rooms where individual letters are sounding out to specific activities, such as k’s kicking or c’s shiverring to c/c/cold. And then the Leap Frog characters break out into songs reinforcing what the professor taught and giving examples of how a letter like c can have multiple sounds.
This is the foundation dvd in which words are introduced to a suggested audience of ages 2 to 5. Our 3 year old son had already learned his alphabet and was up to reading, but this was a good way to explain that some letters more than one sound. Our 16 month old girl was really cute though, as she later picked up letter blocks or cards in the playroom, point to it, and say, “F. ffff, ffff.” Or, “C. ccc, ccc.” She cutely says the letters then makes the sounds, all of which she learned from this DVD.
The series continues with Talking Words Factory and introduces reading skills, reinforces the alphabet, promotes learning phonics skills and word building and introduces phonemic awareness. It is also directed by Roy Allen Smith at the Lions Gate studio and runs 35 minutes. This time, Leap, Lily and Tad go to the Word Factory where they use the Word Whammer and Sticky-Ick-O-Rama machines with Professor Quigley to make three letter words. Concepts such as sticky vowels that help glue a word together are highlighted along with many letter combinations that make unique sounds such as ch and st, and it adds in rhyming to keep the pace upbeat with words ending in at, in, ig, an or ad.
The suggested viewing audience is 3 to 6, and our 16 month old has a hard time following it, but she still watches and I’m glad we have something that challenges her for learning phonics in the future. Our son on the other hand is appropriately 3 and continuously spells words on his etch-a-sketch and also uses the Fridge Words Magnetic Words Builder by Leap Frog both with the DVD and independently. The story does get a little convoluted at times, but the lessons stick out, and our boy follows them.
Talking Words Factory 2 - Code Word Caper teaches advanced phonics and takes learning phonics to a more complex level. This video was created by the Warner Home Video Inc., studio in Burbank, California and runs 30 minutes long and is targeted to an audience of 3 to 6 ears old. This time, Leap, Lily and Tad have to travel through the Complex Word Complex guided by the Absent Professor Device to help Mr. Websley regain his voice lost to the Silent E Machine.
There are three main lessons in this video. The first teaches how the silent E turns vowels into long vowels by adding a transparent E at the end of words “the E makes the vowel say its name. Blended letter combinations are demonstrated which include the s and h: sh, and the t and h: th. Finally, it explains how to pronounce words when two vowels come together.
Let’s Go to School is another phonics learning video, this time geared towards preschool children ages 3 to 6. Phonics skills and counting are reinforced and days of the week and animals are introduced. Also a Lions Gate production, this video runs 35 minutes long. Tad and Lily start school tomorrow and are extremely nervous. While big brother Leap ensures them that it will be fun, it is the magic firefly Edison that takes them on an adventure to show them that the classroom is more nervous than they are.
We tried to introduce this video to our 3 year old son but it wasn't until 4 that he began to fully appreciate and comprehend the concepts. And it seems that the story makes the assumption that Tad and Lily are not quite as educated as they had been through all those learning factories. Still, it’s a well presented video that squeezes in the alphabet in a long song, tries to convey that everyone, including the chalk, calendar, clock and erasers are more nervous than them, and adds counting and numbers. Our son though, was not at all nervous about school. He just could not wait to go, and once the day came, he fit right in. So it may be more useful for our young girl when she’s ready for school, but this video does seem a bit off from the series overall.