Thursday, April 16, 2009

Introducing Visual Phonics™

With the launch of our new Learn to Read program, we unveil an exciting new feature: Visual Phonics™. These are animated segments that introduce the sounds and words in every lesson.

When we started out, we wrestled with the challenge of moving from audio to video. We didn’t want to create animations that were simply entertaining but not educationally meaningful. We were also concerned that some parents might be turned off by a reading product that required kids to watch DVDs. On the other hand, we didn’t want to create a relentless wave of letters and words that would make kids lose interest.

As soon as the first animation tests arrived, however, we knew we had a winner on our hands. These aren’t just fun little videos (although they are fun). They present a systematic approach to learning with its own set of "laws". These include:

Letters should stand still when someone is reading them.
When letters join together to form a new sound, they turn the same color.
All sound effects must stop during reading time.

This is only a small sample of the thinking that went into these videos, and I’ll be talking more about this in future posts.

And of course, there’s a rich history of animated letters, from Schoolhouse Rock to The Electric Company. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

You can get a sneak peek at the new Hooked on Phonics “HOP Kids” who run and jump and play throughout our new workbooks and videos. More on them is coming soon!

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