Oct 6, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Fundanoodle

For years, ever since I realized that my older two kids' handwriting was atrocious, I have insisted that each kid practice writing every single school day. I have used a variety of products to achieve this goal with varying levels of success. This year, as I pulled together my resources, I realized I had a workable plan for everyone except for Abbie. She had gone through the process of learning how to write each letter, so beginner stuff wasn't what she needed. But she wasn't really ready to start copying sentences yet. I needed something sort of in between. She was highly interested in my search, and kept asking me what "special" thing I had found for her copywork this year. So I felt a little bit of pressure. :) Thankfully, we were asked to review the I Can Write Lower Case! writing tablet from Fundanoodle.
Fundanoodle offers many education readiness products in the areas of fine motor control, handwriting and math for preschool through 1st grade kids. We received two tablets: I Can Write Lower Case! and I Can Write My Own Stories!

The lower case tablet contains 52 sheets and a sticker page. Each page is devoted to learning and practicing one letter of the alphabet. When each letter has been learned, there are additional practice sheets with grey boxes, then squares, then primary ruled lines both in color and grayscale. These additional pages are all in alphabetical order and have several letters per page (some even have the entire alphabet on a page).
The tablet starts with the easiest letter of all "l" and then letters that get progressively more difficult. On each page, Max the monkey gives instructions on how to write the letter. At the bottom of the page, Alphie offers praise with such phrases as "marvelous!", "hooray!", and "quite good!". A point of interest for Abbie was that each encouraging phrase started with the letter she wrote on that page. Finally, there was a place for a sticker. Each sticker had an object that also started with that letter: a lollipop for the "l" page; a giraffe for the "g" page; and so forth.
On each learning page there are five lines so there is plenty of practice provided. I allowed her to set the pace. She did as many or as few letters as she liked each day. I only required that each letter be written "perfectly" and she couldn't put on the sticker until she had completed the page. Some days she did the whole page in one sitting, some sheets took her three days to finish.
I liked that each page was cheerful and brightly colored. I liked the amount of practice required. The books are sturdy, spiral bound and easy for her to manipulate and maneuver. The one thing I would change would be to put the extra review sheets in the same order as the instructional sheets. That way I could periodically assign her review without her feeling pressured by the letters she had not yet completed.

She also worked on I Can Write My Own Stories! This is simply a collection of activities: writing, listing, labeling, drawing, etc. that seeks to develop the child's handwriting and creative writing skills.

One day she put sentences in the correct order to make a story and then drew a picture of the story. One day she drew a picture of her lunch and wrote about her lunch on the primary ruled lines underneath. Another day she wrote street names on a map. This book also had reward stickers for each page. She had to match the picture on the sticker to the picture on the page where the sticker was supposed to go. Each activity required a minimal amount of writing that I felt was skill appropriate for her. She never acted like it was too much.

I asked her what she thought about it and this is what she said:

It's very fun because you put a sticker on every time you finish a page. 

These books are both consumable, are intended for K-1st graders and cost $5.99 apiece.

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