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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Duck's Alphabet is a colorful, simple site for preschoolers to learn phonics pre-reading skills. Intended for the very early reader, kids need only to listen to instructions and know how to click on a mouse to be able to play. There's one main game theme on this site, which moves through all letter sounds of the alphabet and rewards kids with a printable color sheet at the end of mastering each one.
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What's it about?
Kids are shown 26 presents that each make sounds. They click a present to open it, and out pops an object associated with the present’s sound -- for example, a rug for the letter R. Kids help Duck catch the object by recognizing its starting sound among other sounds. When they catch the object, the sound’s letter symbol is revealed. Kids must then identify and click on the letter symbol in a group of other letters. Next, kids choose pictures of objects that start with the sound and finally build a word that starts with the sound.
Is it any good?
For the youngest computer users, the simple and sweet Duck's Alphabet will likely help them feel successful in both website navigation and phonics skills. Many children will recognize the Word World characters, which will help ease them into trying the new skill of matching letter sounds with the letter image itself. The main page game asks kids to choose any of the 26 "gifts." With one click on one of the 26 gift-wrapped boxes, the child enters an activity space about that particular letter sound. At the end of each lesson, one word is presented for the child to "read," increasing the level of confidence in reading for these newbies. One caveat, for kids who have some reading skills, this site may become monotonous quickly -- all the sub-games within the main game are essentially the same. There are some great offline parent-child reading readiness activities suggested here, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why learning to read is important (and fun). Read some of the selections on Common Sense Media's Best Books of the Decade for Preschoolers list to introduce your child to the amazing adventures of reading.
Talk about the difference between learning and playing online and offline.
What's a good amount of time to play online and why do we want to limit how much time we spend online?