As simple as ABC

25th September 2007 at 01:00

Harrison's Alphabet Book. Retail price: Pounds 29.99. Platform: PC 386 and above. Mac to follow later this year. Moonstone Multimedia Tel: 0181 6820624.

Computer programs for helping children with literacy skills are getting more complicated and many of them do all but make the tea. Harrison's Alphabet Book is a simple but effective program for teaching letter recognition, sounds and blends without distracting bells and whistles.

With clear, amusing illustrations, it contains four learning sections which move through a progression teaching the letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lower-case, initial letter sounds, phonic blends and examples of commonly used words. A final section allows teachers or parents to print out worksheets to reinforce skills.

All instructions are read aloud to children in a clear pleasant voice and simple animations provide interest without distracting them. My young tester particularly liked the lip buttons, which give instructions as you click on them. The icons are very clear, making the progam easy and logical to use, even for the youngest learners. Each page can be printed by clicking on a printer icon, thoughtfully tucked away in the top left-hand corner to avoid accidental print-outs.

This program is the first in an intended series and was inspired by a father whose son, Harrison, was having difficulty reading. It has been tested in schools and, while aimed at nursery and Reception, it would also be useful for pupils with learning difficulties. A secondary use would be in early support for foreign students learning English.

Nicola Jones is an information tecnhnology and special needs teacher

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