It seems that nowadays more kids are entering school with some level of basic computer skills, thanks to a proliferation of affordable home computers. Integrating early learning software programs into classroom curriculum has then not only become easier but more enjoyable for children as they tackle the beginning concepts of reading, writing and arithmetic. The plethora and diversity of new early learning software titles is a boon to educators, although figuring out just which title is best for each classroom can be overwhelming. With that in mind, we'll take a look at some of the newest language arts, creativity and social studies programs available, leaving math titles for an upcoming Focus On.
Several programs are designed to reach the earliest of readers, beginning with learning the alphabet. For students ages 3 and up, Alphabet Express from School Zone features eight activity stations that emphasize different skills. For example, the dot-to-dot activity challenges students to connect the letters in alphabetical order; 24 letter scenes ask the user to identify objects that begin with the letter shown at the top of the screen; and for aural learners, the alphabet song introduces letters through song. This multiple award-winning program is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems and has an easy-to-use interface that beginning readers can quickly master. Many of the activities feature several difficulty levels to accommodate a variety of learning levels in the classroom.
Another title that focuses on the alphabet emphasizes the sound of letters and is appropriately entitled just that. Sunburst's Letter Sounds is the first title in the Tenth Planet Explores Literacy early learning series. Created for pre-kindergarten to first grade students, Letter Sounds uses activities with video and speech to teach letter recognition, the sound of letters individually and in words. Instructors can organize the activities to focus on specific letters to coincide with their curriculum, and certain activities allow students to save their work to disk or print their …