The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Play N' Talk Review by Stephanie D. Scarborough


Play N' Talk is a time-tested method of teaching phonics and so much more. It teaches word study, dictionary, vocabulary development, oral communication, spelling, creative thinking, composition, listening skills, visual and auditory discrimination, and keyboard skills. It has been recently updated in looks, but retains the concepts and values that made it great when Dr. Marie LeDoux founded it over 40 years ago.

When I opened the box, my excitement could have easily turned into an overwhelmed feeling due to all the components of the kit. However, even this is overcome by a sweet welcome letter reminding me that this is a lot of curriculum designed to last for years, not to be overwhelmed, refer to the games and ideas in the manual, and most of all to relax and have fun.

As I pointed out earlier, this kit is full! It comes in an organized suitcase-type kit. The items are non-consumable, so the cost of the program should be divided by the number of children you plan to teach.

Here are the items included in the kit:
Amplified Instructors Manual
Manuscript alphabet chart
Plan n' Talk phonics chart
Felt letters
Sing n' Sound CD
Series CDs 1, 2, 3, and 4
Riddles n' Rhyme CD
Ring n' Key CD
Slide n' Sound CD
Riddles n' Rhyme books: primary 1, 2, and 3
Series books 1, 2, 3, and 4
Slide n' Sound manual and word list
Ring n' Key case
Spell lingo case
Light up space wand with batteries
Flash cards

And now for some highlights of the items included in the Play n' Talk kit.

The Amplified Instructors Manual is well-written and easy-to-understand. The introduction section puts your mind at ease by pointing out theoretical principles to practical application. The lessons are completely planned out for the teaching parent, which is great for the busy mom or dad. The plans should meet state and county lesson plan requirements. There are two separate 10 minute lessons a day (or one 15 minute lesson) and a reinforcement game. I can see how you could "squeeze" in your lessons on even your busiest days. The manual also leaves an area on each page for you to put your progress notes.

Most importantly, the teacher is on the recordings. This was very reassuring to me, as I've often wondered if I'm teaching or saying something correctly. Now you have a resource with many years of experience on your team.

The CDs have an old-time feel to them. The relationship between Mrs. Betty and the children is genuine and very refreshing. The textbooks from which the children work are written in easy-to-read print and contain simple, black and white sketches. The Slide n' Sound is a great tool for reinforcement of the phonics rules that can be used again and again until the child is successful.

The Spell Lingo is a game played like Bingo, but the cards are divided up into the different sections of learning. For instance, short vowels, magic "e" vowels, etc.

The Ring and Key is designed to help the child learn to spell, read faster, and write more effectively while learning to touch type. The flash cards are pre-made so they save time. They are grouped according to lessons for easy organization and storage. Lastly, they are laminated for repeated use. The Space Wand was the first thing my children grabbed out of the kit. Once they put the batteries in, they wanted to know what to do with it and how it was used. If for nothing other than grabbing their attention, it worked.

Although not a part of the kit, Play n' Talk also offers a book series to companion with your child's learning. They are called the "To Grow by Readers," which encourage a love for learning with morality at the core. The program is intended to meet the needs of children with average learning needs, above average learners, bilingual children, children with disabilities (Dyslexia, Aphasia, ADD, Mixed Dominance, Autism, Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired, Auditory Processing Disability), children with speech problems, and older/adult students.

On the Play N' Talk website, they have a comparison to other popular programs, which I found to be very helpful in describing the similarities and differences between this and other programs.

The Play N' Talk program is designed with the needs of learners in mind. The investment in your child learning to read well warrants a few moments a day with the Play N' Talk system.

-- Product Review by: Stephanie D. Scarborough, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine