The preschool years are delightful years of discovery and play.
Barbara Milne has used her experience and training in early childhood
education and children's music to create many products to aid the
young child in learning through music and games. She developed
the Sounds Like Phonics and the Sounds Like Learning series for
Discovery Toys, though some are also available at IQ Boosters,
where she sells additional musical recordings.
Fingerplays And Fun CD
Fingerplays and Fun is a charming CD that contains 14
bright and cheerful songs for toddlers and preschoolers. These
songs include 13 action songs and fingerplays, as well as an alphabet
song. Many of the songs are traditional children's songs, but this
CD also includes six original songs written by Barbara Milne, who
also provides the singing voice for the music. The Fingerplays
and Fun CD comes with a lyrics sheet that includes the actions
for each song as well as an alphabet poster that shows both uppercase
and lowercase letters with picture cues that help the child remember
the letter sounds.
The Fingerplays and Fun CD can be used in the home, nursery, daycare,
or classroom setting. It can be used as background music during playtime or
in a more directed learning experience. Children would also enjoy playing their
own instruments and singing along with the recording.
When I played this CD in my home, my 2-year-old and 4-year-old
both enjoyed it, but my 6-year-old felt it was too young for him.
That reaction was exactly what I expected, as this CD is best suited
for children at the preschool and kindergarten level. Older children
with developmental delays could also benefit from this CD. The
recording quality is excellent, and the CD has a cheerful and peaceful
sound that will appeal to young children without annoying the parents.
The instructions for the fingerplay actions are clearly understood;
however, the print on the poster is small, and the lyrics for different
songs seem to run together without an obvious separation.
This CD would be perfect for families with young children. In
families with a mix of older and younger children, this CD would
have a few unique benefits. The Fingerplays and Fun CD
would provide a directed way for older children to interact with
the younger children, and it would allow parents to easily invest
time in playing with their younger children.
Sounds Like Learning CD
Sounds Like Learning is a musical CD designed for babies,
toddlers and preschool children. Fourteen of the 20 songs are written
by Barbara Milne, who sings all the songs on the recording. The
quiet, soothing songs introduce beginning learning concepts, such
as opposites, counting, months of the year, and letter sounds.
The CD comes with a lyrics sheet as well as a poster that introduces
the alphabet and its phonemic sounds.
Sounds Like Learning can be used in the home, a daycare,
or the church nursery. It provides a peaceful background for napping
or playing. When I played it as background music, my 4-year-old
skipped to the music and sang along with the tunes she recognized.
It didn't take her long to learn the other songs, just as Mrs.
Milne intended. Although the CD appealed to my younger children,
my older children quickly grew tired of it. It is very gentle and
soothing, which helped to keep my younger children calm during
This CD has a colorful cover design and is recorded with soothing
guitar music. Barbara Milne's voice is charming, and the overall
tone of the music is pleasant. I liked how easily the CD introduces
basic concepts to preschool children. It would also be beneficial
to those with learning delays who learn well through music and
Sounds Like Learning DVD
The Sounds Like Learning DVD provides a video to accompany
the "Apple, Apple, A A A" song, which is on both the Fingerplays
and Fun CD and the Sounds Like Learning CD. Each
letter is shown with a picture cue as the words to the song are
printed across the screen. The picture cues match the learning
posters that come with the Sounds Like Learning DVD as
well as the picture cues used in the Sounds Like Phonics games
This short video drew the attention of my 2-year-old, 4-year-old,
and even my 7-year-old. It held their attention from start to finish,
and the younger two begged to have it played again--two more times
to be exact. My musical 4-year-old danced to the music as she sang
along. This DVD is perfect for preschoolers since it combines the
visual and auditory learning modes. If children are allowed to
dance or move as they view it, it also taps into their kinesthetic
The Sounds Like Learning DVD is sold in a bundle with
the Sounds Like Learning CD at IQ Boosters. It is not
currently available at Discovery Toys, though the other products
Sounds Like Phonics Short Vowel Fun Game
Short Vowel Fun is a card game that teaches preschool children
to recognize letter sounds and rhyming words. This game is intended
for children age three and up, though I think some three and four-year-old
children would need help to play the game. Each playing card has
a two or three-letter word on it, and every letter has a picture
cue to help children remember its sound. The two levels of Short
Vowel Fun cover all five vowels as well as 17 different consonants.
The only letters not covered are q, x, y, and z.
The Short Vowel Fun game comes with two stacks of 52 cards in
two different levels. Each player is given four cards, and
one is placed face up on the table. The youngest child goes
first and tries to match the first letter or rhyming sound
of one of their cards with the displayed card. If they have
a match, they lay their card on top of the other card. If they do not have
a match, they must draw a card. There are Magic Monkey cards that can be
used as a wild card to change the direction of the game if a player does
not have a match. The winner is the first player to use all his cards.
As children progress, the game could be made more difficult
by starting each player with more cards.
This game was a hit in our home. My 4-year-old and 6-year-old
both greatly enjoyed playing the game and continue to ask to play
it. I played it with them several times, though my 2-year-old actually
thought he was playing the third hand in the game. Even though
my 6-year-old is already reading, he enjoyed playing the game and
recognizing which words had rhyming endings. When I was busy, they
happily played it with their older sister.
I appreciated the simplicity of this game. It doesn't have playing
pieces to set up (or lose), and it is easy to learn. Another benefit
is that this game is designed for the young child's attention span,
moving quickly and maintaining the child's interest and focus.
I enjoyed playing it with my younger children and knowing that
they were learning while we played. This game will continue to
be a favorite in our home, as it is simple and fun.
Sounds Like Phonics Letter Fun Lotto Game
Letter Fun Lotto is a versatile game that helps children (ages
3 and up) explore letters and sounds through play. The game includes
four double-sided lotto boards, 36 letter cards, 50 round markers,
and instructions for four different games. The two sides of the
lotto cards allow older parents to tailor the game to their child's
ability, as one side is more advanced than the other. This game
covers all 26 letters of the alphabet.
The colorful, illustrated lotto boards can be used with the letter
cards to play a simple matching game or a more complex matching
game. The letter cards can also be used to build words or rhyming
words. The letter cards are double-sided: one side has the letter
alone, while the other side has hidden picture cues. Our favorite
game was Bingo, which uses the lotto boards, the letter cards,
and the round markers.
When playing Letter Fun Lotto with my 4-year-old and 6-year-old,
we explored all four game options. My 4-year-old enjoyed the matching
games, but they were too simple for my 6-year-old. My 6-year-old
enjoyed building words with the letter cards, but my 4- year-old
wasn't able to. They both enjoyed playing Bingo, and we played
several rounds of the game so that they each had a chance to win.
Their 2-year-old brother wanted to be included in the fun, so we
helped him play along.
It helped us to realize that there are two different sides of
the lotto boards: a simpler side that uses only picture cues that
match the letter cards and a more difficult side that uses different
pictures. We needed to put the 4-year-old on the simpler side,
and though my 6-year-old is reading, he sometimes needed to be
reminded to look at the letter on the card and not the picture
while playing Bingo.
The versatility of this game makes it especially beneficial. It
can be used in many different ways to enhance learning, both as
part of a structured lesson time or as a part of a family play
time. Letter Fun Lotto truly involves both play and learning, and
more importantly . . . children enjoy it!
In conclusion, Barbara Milne's Sounds Like Phonics games and CDs
have helped me focus on my preschool children, who sometimes get
lost in the shuffle of older siblings' schoolwork and the household
chores. Mrs. Milne's products provided a fun learning environment
for our young children and allowed us to enjoy spending time with