Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Wordy Qwerty (Talking Fingers)

Wordy Qwerty, a software program by Talking Fingers, teaches children spelling rules through a series of engaging lessons and activities.  The intended age range is 7-9 (2nd-3rd grade).  It is available as an online option, or a CD-Rom.

I first heard of Wordy Qwerty a few years back in Sally Shawitz's Overcoming Dyslexia, where it was recommended as a solid spelling instruction tool. Some time later, a friend shared with me how much it helped her dyslexic daughter.  By that time, my son had already started steadily improving his spelling, and I wasn't looking to add another program to the pile of remediation resources we were already using.  However, when I recently had the opportunity to review Wordy Qwerty, I was curious to see what all the fuss is about, even though my son is well beyond the recommended age range.  If nothing else, it would reinforce already learned spelling rules for him, and I could gain some experience with the program to share with others that come to me for advice on helping their kids with spelling. I quickly found out why it is often a recommended spelling instruction resource.

The program has 20 lessons in all, each covering a different rule, listed below.


  1. Silent E
  2. Sounds of C
  3. Sounds of G
  4. J or DGE
  5. W or WH
  6. C or K
  7. CK or K
  8. CKS or X
  9. CH or TCH
  10. LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  11. OI or OY
  12. VE Words
  1. Open Syllables
  2. Double Consonants
  3. Doubling rule
  4. ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  5. I Before E
  6. Plurals: Add ES
  7. Plurals: Y to IES
  8. Plurals: F to VES

With a two talking keyboards (one a computer keyboard, the other a piano keyboard) gently encouraging the child to earn spheres and points to help make a Marveleous Music Machine, the student is taught to recognize patterns in each lesson and then is provided with the rule.  A catchy song for each rule is included to help aid in retention.

Each lesson has six activities and games for the student to complete: Patterns Game, Karaoke, Recycler, Pop-a-Word, Write Stories, and Read Stories. The games are engaging and give the student more practice with the rule. Full game descriptions are available at the website.

Patterns Game. If a student gets stuck on spelling a word, the hands on the screen will show them what letter is next.

It sounds pretty simple, but this is a solid program. I can see why I heard it recommended on more than one occasion.  The instruction is not limited to just spelling a handful of words and rule memorization.  The activities, which also require tasks and skills such as memory and visual tracking, increase fluency and comprehension in reading and writing.

The Pop-A-Word game increases reading fluency by requiring the student to quickly select the right word in sequence before it disappears.

My son is nearly 12, well beyond the recommended age.  However, he is a struggling speller that needs clear instruction and well-explained rules to follow.  Surprisingly, Wordy Qwerty was one of the first things he asked to do each day.  While he felt the presentation a bit young for him (I noticed a few eyerolls during when he had the option to record himself singing during the Karaoke game and talking keyboards really aren't his thing), he said not only was it a great review of the spelling rules, but that he learned some things, too.  I never timed it, but each lesson probably took him 15-20 minutes.  He completed the entire program in a little over a month.

As a parent, I was able to set controls on his account.  For each lesson, I could set a Pass Level percentage.  If this percentage was met, the program would move him on to the next lesson. If a student does not reach the Pass Level, the program has them repeat the lesson. It should be noted that they are only sent back once, and will be moved forward even if they don't pass the second time.  This is done so as to not discourage the child.  Parents are able to keep tabs on the final percentages for each lesson so they know which rules need more work, possibly having the child go through a particular lesson again.

Parents can also set days and times when the student is allowed to log in to the program. I liked the report available to parents that showed the lessons completed and the scores earned.  I did find that sometimes the program was slow to load when moving from one activity to the next, but my son never mentioned it nor complained.  I also felt the parent area could have better navigation tools, but with some trial-and-error clicking, I was able to find the settings or reports I was seeking.

I highly recommend that you have your child try the  sample lesson (Silent E) available on the website. Your student will be able to experience a full lesson and each accompanying activity.  It is an excellent try-before-you-buy opportunity.

Wordy Qwerty is an excellent resource for solid teaching of the spelling rules for beginning spellers, as well as a remediation tool for older students.  A online license is available as a 1-year license for 1 user at $25, up to 5 users for $71.25.  A CD-Rom version, complete with an audio CD of the spelling rule songs, is available for $35. Visit the Talking Fingers website to learn more or to purchase.

Curious about what other TOS Crew members had to say about this product?  Visit the official TOS Crew blog to read more reviews. You can also find previous TOS Crew reviews on other Talking Finger products here.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

1 comment:

Kristenph said...

Nice review. Overall I liked the program for my probably dyslexic child. BTW, I guess I haven't been to your blog for a while (just read from reader). I love the new look. It's very peaceful and uncluttered.