With Toby starting school in September, and with him probably being the youngest in the year, I thought that the Summer holidays would be a great way to kick start a love for some slightly more ‘academic’ learning. I appreciate that reception year is very much a transition year from nursery but there will, of course, be a little bit of structure throughout the day.
I have written about Toby’s speech and development issues previously and we wondered if he would ever talk. I’m pleased to say that he is getting there although he is still quite a way behind where the ‘professionals’ would expect him to be. I really can’t wait for Toby to start school because I honestly thing he’s just a bit of a ‘delayed sponge’. He takes absolutely everything in but it just takes him a little longer to process it and then eventually come out with it (trust me, we’ve had some blinding phrases out of nowhere!).
Learning Resources have been an incredible resource when it comes to finding toys that are not only educational, but fun as well. With Toby it’s about finding something that he can relate to the real world, something that can be used in a real scenario and that’s actually quite difficult. His attention span is limited so it’s about constantly talking to him throughout the day with emphasis on certain words.
I’m not entirely sure how he’s going to get on with the more academic side of things at school as he progresses just because he’s much more physical over anything. However, in those quiet times when you can get him to listen and play along it’s incredibly important to fill that time with something fun or he’ll lose interest. One of our go to games/toys at the moment is the ‘Hot Dots – Let’s Learn Jolly Phonics’ set.
What Is The Hot Dots Set?
Developed in collaboration with Jolly Phonics, Hot Dots is basically an interactive learning experience with a self-assessment system. It consists of three books; letter sounds, first words and vowels and comes with a pen in the shape of a mouse. Jolly Phonics aim to provide children with a thorough foundation in reading and writing using the synthetic phonics method of learning which is trusted by teachers around the globe.
We’ve only started with the ‘letter sounds’ book because I think first words and vowels will follow much, much later; it’s aimed at ages 3-6 so is perfect for natural progression both at home and within school. The idea is that this is an introduction to reading success with a view to reinforce any learning that has already taken place.
The books inside are illustrated which feature 192 activities and lots of characters associated with Jolly Phonics.
How Do I Work The Hot Dots Set?
You need to insert 2xAAA batteries into the Inky Mouse pen (not included) to begin. One thing I was surprised at was that there was no need for a screwdriver. You could undo the screw with a coin and I loved that I could just go straight to my purse rather than hunting out something from the toolbox.
After that’s done simply choose a book to work on and read the instruction above each picture. Children will have a choice of answers and use the Inky Mouse pen to select an answer. Just press down on the dot you think is the answer and the Inky Mouse pen will tell you immediately if you are wrong or right.
The Inky Mouse pen provides immediate feedback on the answer you’ve given by flashing one ear either red or green and offering words of encouragement. Occasionally you get a ‘boing’ noise or an ‘uh oh’ amongst other things if you’re wrong, but you also a ‘great’ or ‘hurray’ if you’re right. There are lots of other phrases and noises and it does also vibrate!
What Are The Basic Skills For Reading And Writing?
There are actually five basic skills needed to read and write.
- Learning the sounds of the letters. Jolly Phonics teaches 42 different letter sounds of the English alphabet, not just the standard 26 letters.
- The formation of letters.
- Blending. Children are taught to run the sounds in a word together when reading in order for them to hear that particular word.
- The ability to identify sounds. Children are taught to listen and identify each sound in a word for accurate spelling when writing.
- Tricky words. These are seen as words that have irregular spelling patterns. Words such as ‘said’, ‘was’, ‘the’.
Toby really enjoyed doing this with me and has asked to play with the ‘mouse book’ quite a lot! I think it’s great that, in the future when he understands a lot more, he’ll be able to sit and do this by himself to reinforce his knowledge, practise at home and they’ll even be great for a long car journey!
The books are ring bound which make for easy turning and there are 64 activities within each book which will keep them going for quite a while. I love that this is a resource that can be revisited and reused with Teddy when he starts school in a couple of years time. There are plenty of expansion packs and even a Hot Dots set for maths which I think we’ll be investing in when Toby starts learning this at school.
*I was sent this product in return for a review. All views and opinions are my own.