Kid Phonics (Davidson & Associates – ages 4-7) uses music as a link to reading by associating sounds with letters, syllables, and then words. The music is excellent. There are over four dozen classic children’s songs and nursery rhymes, plus terrific original music. The main room introduces six characters – one at the piano, four at mikes, and one on a guitar. Click on any of them to hear a song and follow along with the lyrics as they appear on screen. All the characters have clearly defined personalities; for example, Boogie gets excited very easily, Tweed is shy, Mumpher is a cowboy. These traits are reflected in the songs they sing, and you learn to connect certain sounds to certain characters. There are two games: Sound Blaster and Word Builder. In the first, you listen to a fragment of a song or some other kind of sound, performed by a real woman. Then you choose which of the characters is doing the same song or sound, in his own voice. Word Builder is a more involved activity. Here you choose a picture of an animal, for example, and sound it out and spell it with the computer’s help. This can get complicated, with color-coded cards for long and short vowels, putting letters into words and words into sentences, and color-coded scrolls for parts of speech…well, it works, once you get the hang of it. The resulting sentences can be quite funny or charming, e.g., “My dragon breathes poems”, the program’s sample sentence. Along with the games, you’ll find a word library, a coloring program, and a print function. Kid Phonics has plenty to offer in a very refreshing format.
– August 1995