By Monte FergusonI had a dilemma. My oldest child, bright and observant, had the attention span of a butterfly when it came to memorization. The more mundane the task the shorter she would participate in the activity. This was particularly true when it came to the alphabet. She knows the alphabet, at least orally. She can sing the “alphabet song” to you. The problem was getting her to understand the written letters. I knew she comprehended them. She just lost interest so quickly that we both got frustrated rapidly.
I knew that to engage my four year old I needed something that was fun. Yet, while she was having fun, it also had to be educational. Luckily I remembered that Software MacKiev continues to produce updates for a classic program: Dr. Suess’s ABC’s.
The program has two main modes: Let Me Play (a self guided exploration) & Read It To Me (an automated run through the alphabet.) Young users are guided to make a choice by animated characters Izzy and Ichabod.
In either mode the program focuses on one letter at a time. Each letter has several funny animations that highlight words that begin with that letter. (The Let Me Play mode has more animated scenes than the Read It To Me mode.)
A kids video player presents videos based on the ABC book. The videos are music videos. In all there are fourteen full length videos.
The action and the pacing of the program are excellent for young users. There is enough going on to keep them engaged. But not so much that they get bored. I had a four and a 1 year old sit through the entire alphabet. All told I think it took about 30 min. They both enjoyed the experience. Better yet their attention didn’t wander.
Make no mistake, though I have concentrated on the play aspect, this program is a teaching tool. Kids are exposed to a wide variety of words. The program places particular emphasis on the letter being reviewed. At any time you can click on elements to have them activate. (For instance click on the letter to have it highlight and have Ichabod or Izzy speak the letter.)
When you’re away from the computer you can take along a hard board companion book, included with the software. The software CD doubles as a music CD you can listen to in your car. Or you can use the included iTunes installer that makes a playlist and installs 14 songs you can use with your iPod.
Your kids might try to take over your computer to play the program.
This is a delightful program. If you grew up with Dr. Suess you’ll get a kick out of the whimsical nature of the program. It combines whimsey with solid memorization and, dare I say it, educational material. This is a fully animated program, with graphics that harken back to the old days.
You can see a fully functioning example of the letter A by going to
My kids were my test audience and they loved the program. I know the program is making a difference. My daughter will point out to me letters she knows and reference something from the program. They repeatedly come back to watch the content. That, to me, is a mark of a job well done.
Posted: Sunday, May 2nd, 2010