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Review: Pencil-Pal Preschool Software

As you probably already know, my little guy just turned 4 years old. Because of his birthday being in January, he will be almost 6 when he goes to Kindergarten. This, among other reasons, is why my husband and I decided to keep him home this year, and wait until the Fall of 2012 to send him to preschool.

Before my "P" was born, I was an elementary school teacher, so education is extremely important to me. I decided that I would use this year as an opportunity to work with P at home on things like numbers, letters, phonics, sight words, etc. I have a very clear vision of what a classroom should look like, how it should be run, and what I want my son to learn at this age. Unfortunately, because I am so stubborn about the environment that I want him in, I have had a hard time finding materials that fulfill all of my requirements.

When I was offered the chance to try a product from the School Zone line of software, I jumped at the chance. P loves to play on the computer, and I do think it is extremely important that kids in his generation are familiar with technology, but I don't love the idea of him being on the Internet all the time. (Just a little disclosure - he is only allowed on the computer under our supervision, and he only has links to pbskids.org and Disney Junior that he can access). With all of this in mind, I decided to try the Pencil-Pals Preschool Program. I was sent the CD to load on my computer, but you can actually buy the program as a download, which I think is soooooo convenient.

So, P was super excited when we received the program in the mail and instantly wanted to try it. He loved it! Every day since we installed it, he has asked to play it, and of course I am happy to oblige. I tried very hard to record P playing the game, but after two attempts, each "failing" after the video had compressed, I had to give up. :(

The child is asked to find the picture that matches the number shown, the color shown, or the letter shown. It also will show a picture and then ask the child to choose the picture that either belongs with the one in the frame, or the one that doesn't belong. I think it is important for a child to be able to recognize numbers and letters independently - not just when it is placed in order or in a group of other numbers or letters, so seeing this program switch things up a bit made me happy. P liked this part as well, especially when he realized that he earned a horse shoe for every correct answer.

P also really liked the connect the dots part of the program. I liked it because you could use numbers, uppercase letters, or lowercase letters. P can count, but doesn't recognize all of his numbers, so this is a fun way for him to practice. If you drag the line to the incorrect number, a child's voice tells you "You can't go there!". P found this quite hilarious, and thus began the game of dragging "1" to "9" and "2" to "7". (Not gonna lie - that got a bit annoying!)

Even the welcome screen of this program is fun! There is a horse who tells jokes, wacky animals and objects that fly out of the mailbox, and a fun little string you can pull if you need help. The goat will take you to the video portion of the program, that Bean actually enjoyed too. You can even print coloring sheets with numbers and colors, or decorate them on the computer and print them after. (P finds it extremely funny when he clicks on the bottle of soap and his picture melts away. :) )

So, here it is, my honest opinion about this program. It is great! I do believe that P will learn from the program, and that he will have fun doing it. I like that so many of the activities have printables so I can take them in the car, to a restaurant, on the plane, etc. I'm a little worried that he will get bored of the activities, but that is why I am not letting him over indulge in them now. We are limiting his play time, and only letting him watch a video or two at a time. I want this program to be on his list of things he WANTS to do, not things he HAS to do. For the price, (only $9.99 to download!) I'd say this is a definite must buy if you are the parent of a pre-schooler, and if you aren't, check out the other amazing products that School Zone has to offer! They have software geared towards kids from pre-school to sixth grade. They havebooks, workbooks, downloads, and even iphone/ipad apps! We were lucky enough to be sent a set of flash cards as well, and we are loving playing with them at the breakfast table. It's such a fun family activity, and even Bean can join in when she sees a picture that she knows.

I am definitely adding these adorable cards to my list of baby shower gift basket items!

So, anyway, head over to School Zone, check out their products, and then come back and let me know what you think!

I was sent the program and flashcards from School Zone at no charge, but was not compensated in any way for this review. These opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Check out the Pencil-Pal Preschool Software by clicking this link.

Mom, Educator Endorses Preschool Software