Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Alphabet Beats

I have a way of keeping tabs on my Schnickelfritz's emotional well-being by just keeping my ears open.  I'm not sure he's aware of it, but he often hums or sings to himself while he plays, builds with blocks, or watches the world go by his passenger window.  Sometimes I can recognize the tune (it's often classical music) and sometimes it's his own composition.  Even my mother has commented on how she enjoys hearing Fritz's music in the background of our phone conversations.

The other day Fritz was riding his bicycle in circles around me and the dog on our afternoon walk and I noticed his melody had been replaced by this short little rhyme "up and around, back up and down...a."  I was thrilled.  To me this meant not only was Fritz in a happy mood, but our latest attempt to improve his handwriting was sinking in and  he associated the writing excercise with feeling good.  Up to that point, handwriting practice often meant whining, complaining, bargaining for every printed word, etc.

Fritz learned this little rhyme for forming the letter "a" from Miss Marnie on The TV Teacher's Alphabet Beats: writing lowercase letters.  It doesn't take long to pick up these little chants as they are repeated often.  Miss Marnie forms each letter by tracing it three times, by writing on a blackboard three times and writing it on lined paper a total of six times--always accompanied by the rhyme.  In between writing sections, the student is introduced to words that begin with the letter being studied.  You can see a sample teaching the letter "p" by clicking here


Alphabet Beats  Uppercase and Lowercase are currently available and Number Beats will be coming soon (Fritz also has a problem with forming numbers from bottom to top).  The menu allows you to go right to any letter so you could start with those in a child's name, or just focus on problem letters.  As I mentioned in an earlier post,  letter formation has not yet moved to the automatic side of Fritz's brain yet.  We are beginning a writing exercise by Dianne Craft and I plan to integrate the Alphabet Beats' rhymes into the exercise.

The Alphabet Beats dvds retail for $35 or you can get both for $64.99.  There is a free download for the lined paper Miss Marnie uses.  They do carry a lined whiteboard for writing practice but I have heard from Dianne Craft that whiteboards lack the friction necessary to help children develop muscle memory.

You can read what my fellow crewmates think about Alphabet Beats by clicking here.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Alphabet Beats: writing lowercase letters for the puroposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation

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