When I was a child I adored Miss Piggy from The Muppets. Thirty years later and The Boy is just as enthusiastic about one of her relatives; Peppa Pig. He absolutely adores the antics of Peppa, George and everyone else in the family, and having visited Peppa Pig World twice last year, it served to feed his obsession.
He has another interest lately, letters. He's really fascinated by the alphabet and the letters all around him. This voyage of discovery of (numbers as well as) letters is amazing to see in action, he's spotting letters and numbers all around him: on traffic lights, street signs, posters, you name it, he sees them. He knows the letters in his name, can arrange them and write his own name.
Recently, I was asked if
I The Boy would like to try the Inspiration Works Peppa Pig Fun Phonics, I jumped at the chance; it would fit the bill for two of his current obsessions!
As you can see from the picture, there are 26 letter keys and an alphabet, repeat and music button. The alphabet lights up the letters in turn and recites the 'phonics', the music button plays a tune. Of these three buttons the repeat button is the most useful. At the top of the console there is a pointer to change the activity being played to one of eight options:
- letters names and sounds (makes the sound associated with the picture for each button)
- phonics (says the letter sound)
- picture identification ("find the umbrella")
- initial letters ("find the first letter of the word …")
- phonics finder ("find the letter that says 'f' as in fish")
- spelling (press the buttons for the letters in identified word)
- follow-me (buttons light up and must be pressed in certain time limit)
- sounds (the sounds of the object associated with each letter)
I like this console, there's a lot of fun, educational activities in it and The Boy is having great fun looking for the letters. He's obviously quite young to be able to identify all letters of the alphabet but he's enjoying finding the letters of his own name, and finding 'm' and 'd' for mummy and daddy. He really likes the picture identification, sounds and the letter names functions. He keeps trying to have a go on the follow-me function but it's quite fast for his young reflexes at the moment. Having the pictures next to the letters makes some of the harder levels a lot easier for pre-schoolers to use.
And so to the one negative for me: the phonics. This is where, as a primary school teacher who has co-ordinated the teaching of Literacy previously, I have a problem.
My concern about this is that it doesn't actually use the correct phonics. Letter sounds nowadays are pronounced differently as to when I was a child, there is a bigger focus on the actual sound of the letters as taken as a snapshot of them in the context of a word. Anyone with a child in Reception or above knows what I'm talking about.
For example, we're used to the letter sounds: ah, buh, cuh, duh, eh, fuh, guh, etc. but that's not right, they aren't the correct phonics. Imagine the short 'b' sound as a ball bouncing quickly. Likewise it's not 'fuh' but 'ffff' as in 'fizz'. That 'uh' sound on letters is called a 'schwa', and quite frankly saying any letter with it is not going to help your child in the future when they learn to blend sounds to read.
And this, for me, is where this otherwise brilliant resource lets itself down. I'll continue to use it with The Boy but I'll be focusing on the picture identification, initial letters and follow-me games, as I desperately try and get him to pronounce the phonics correctly in preparation for school in a year or so.
Peppa Pig Fun Phonics is made by Inspiration Works and available from Amazon
I was sent this product for the purpose of this review, my opinion is honest and unbiased.