Teaching consonant and vowel sounds are some of the first fundamental reading skills most parents try and teach their children. Once the alphabet is mastered along with the phonetic sounds each letter makes, children can begin the task of learning to read. There have been many schools of thought on how best to teach basic spelling and reading, but in my opinion, fun should be at the root of any method.
Children love music and dancing and seem to have an absolute endless supply of energy, so why not combine all of those characteristics into one enjoyable learning game? Learning Resources has accomplished just that with their Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell game. Keep reading to learn much more!
The Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell from Learning Resources is a giant interactive mat (60" x 32") which features four fun learning modes at two difficulty levels. This game is geared for children ages 4-7 years old and requires 3 "AA" batteries (not included). It even contains a large Velcro strap and carry handle for easy travel and storage of the mat.
Operating the Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell couldn't be easier. Simply place it on the floor and turn it on via the large control panel located in the top center. You can adjust the difficulty of the activities as well as the volume from this panel too. Choose which of the four games you'd like to play by stepping on one of Alpha-Bug's shoes. The selected game immediately begins, but at any time you can change games by stepping on the "change game" flag that Alpha-Bug is waving.
Here are the four different games which can be played using this electronic learning mat:
- Discover Mode - Teaches the basics of learning to recognize letters and the sounds they make.
- Spell Mode - Helps youngsters gain confidence with spelling simple words.
- ABC Song Mode - Alpha-Bug sings the alphabet song and asks the player to follow along.
- Music Mode - All the letters of the alphabet become musical notes for endless composing fun.
Questions are answered by stepping directly on the correct letter. You get two chances to answer every question and if your child doesn't get it right after those two chances, Alpha-Bug simply moves on to the next question.
The ABC Song Mode and the Music Mode are geared more for fun, while still encouraging your child to interact directly with the alphabet. There aren't any challenging questions in either of these modes, but there is still plenty that can be learned. For instance, in the music mode, the letters of the alphabet become musical notes.
Now your child can dance and sing their way through the alphabet while trying to compose original and familiar songs. The back of the instruction manual even contains a few crowd favorites to get you started. Riley and I enjoyed this mode the most of all, for it allowed us to be silly together while dancing and making music.
The Discover and Spell Modes were also a lot of fun, with Alpha-Bug asking questions pertaining to letter sounds, alphabet recognition and basic spelling. Since Riley is only two and a half, she wasn't able to answer many of these questions correctly, but genuinely seemed to enjoy trying.
My only criticism of the Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell game is that the mat doesn't always respond as it should. Sometimes, you must step on the letters many, many times before they actually register. For a toddler without a lot of patience or understanding of technology, this was a source of constant frustration. But because this toy is designed for preschoolers who have a little more understanding and know-how, they would probably learn to just keep stepping on the mat until their answer registers and not become quite so bothered by the delay.
The Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell game from Learning Resources is a fun and interactive way to teach your children the fundamentals of reading. With this game, cognitive, listening, reasoning and gross motor skills are developed. This electronic learning mat also encourages interactive play, independent thinking and achievement by teaching letter recognition, consonant and vowel sounds, initial letter sounds and spelling of three to four letter words. Your kids will be exercising both their minds and their bodies while they dance, jump and skip along with the Alpha-Bug!
Disclosure: I received the Alpha-Bug Step 'n' Spell from Learning Resources in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received. This product review is based on my own personal experiences with this item and is completely honest and objective.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!