Sometimes I think that books really have it hard these days. With gaming systems, television, texting phones, and portable music players, it’s easy to forget that books are sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. And while having electronics isn’t wrong – I myself even have some (OK, all) of the items mentioned – it’s still important to make sure that our kids get some important skills that typically only come from reading a book. But how to you pull them away from the TV? How do you get them to put down the gaming controller? Maybe, instead of fighting technology, we simply embrace it. And that is exactly what Mentor InterActive has done with their recent launch of a new education video game – My Virtual Tutor: Reading.
My Virtual Tutor: Reading is a fun and interactive game for the Nintendo DS platform. It uses the proprietary Foundations to Literacy software, which research has shown to help students gain an average of 50% in reading scores versus students who didn’t use the software. My Virtual Tutor: Reading offers 8 interactive books and three different learning sections: Books, Phonics, and Quizzes.
When you click on “Books” it brings you to a selection of books that you can scroll through. There are four different activities for each story:
- Read to Me: The tutor will read the story page by page, highlighting each word while it’s spoken. Kids can repeat the sentences or tap the words to hear them again. As the story is being read on one screen, the other screen is showing the activity being done. So if Tom Cat is feeding a fish, there is an animation of Tom Cat feeding the fish.
- Explore: As the child moves through the story, questions will pop up asking about the story or the picture that was shown.
- I Can Read: While going through the story, kids have to click on missing words and then perform various activities, such as spelling the word or tracing a letter, to reveal the missing words.
- Paint: Kids get to be creative by drawing on the palette as the story is read to them. There is a paint palette and brush tool that enables them to draw whatever they want on a story’s background picture.
There are stars above each book in the library, which shows the number of activities the child has completed for each book. As the child progresses through each story, new stories and activities are unlocked. I really like the stars and the unlocking process since it gives the kids a way to track their progress and have goals to open up new “levels” and to get more stars.
Next, there is a Phonics section, again with four different activities: Starts, Rhymes, Contains, and Sound Out. These games have two different levels – Tutor, where you get to practice, and Challenge, where the game plays as long as possible until there are three wrong answers. In the Phonics games, words will scroll by on the screen, and kids will have to match a word that is given by the same staring letter, words that rhyme with the starting word, words that contain letters that are given by the tutor, or finding the word that is given by the tutor.
Finally, there is a Quiz section. To be quizzed, kids first select a prize, which then brings them to a 3×3 grid of colored squares. Each color square corresponds to a different type of question. During the quiz, they may be asked questions about stories they have read (some of these will be the same as questions from the Explore section of the book.) There are also word matching, coloring, and spelling questions. Completing each question will remove a box from the grid, revealing the new prize won as all of the questions are correctly answered.
At the end of the day, parents can review their child’s progress by entering Parent Mode. In parent mode, you can see the amount of time that the kids have spent on each activity of each book. You can also scroll through the phonics games and see well the kids did for each game, including the time played and the mastery level achieved.
After going through the entire game and all of it’s options, I can really see the benefit of My Virtual Tutor: Reading. It enables the kids to go through the books at their own pace. It touches upon critical reading skills, phonics, vocabulary, spelling, yet keeps the process fun and interesting through the different games and ways for the child to interact with the story and the learning process.
My Virtual Tutor: Reading for Nintendo DS is available in three different reading levels, Pre-K through second grade. It retails for $29.99 and is available nation wide through stores such as Toys R’ Us, GameStop, and Best Buy, or online through amazon.com. For more information, you can visit their website www.myvirtualtutorgame.com.
WCatDD My Virtual Tutor Giveaway!
One winner will receive My Virtual Tutor: Reading for First Grade to Second Grade. (ARV $29.99)
Make sure you follow the directions carefully. All giveaway entries should use the ENTRY FORM. You only need to fill out the ENTRY FORM once, unless you decide to additional earn extra entries at a later time. You can earn up to 16 entries into the WCatDD My Virtual Tutor Giveaway by doing one, some or all of the following:
Ways to Earn Entries:
Make sure you use this ENTRY FORM for your entries to count!
- THIS ENTRY IS REQUIRED FOR ALL OTHER ENTRIES TO BE VALID (+1): Visit www.myvirtualtutorgame.com and tell me what you like about My Virtual Tutor: Reading.
- Fan My Virtual Tutor on Facebook (+2)
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- Post this giveaway on your blog (+3)
- Tweet about this giveaway using the “retweet” link at the top of this post or by tweeting “Helping the kids to learn and love to read with the @WCatDD My Virtual Tutor Giveaway! http://bit.ly/7ABQxb” (+1)
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One winner will be selected at random for this prize.
Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST, December 21, 2009.
Visit our Giveaway Rules page for general giveaway rules that also apply to this giveaway.
Disclaimer: This post consists of my (and/or fellow tester) opinions only. No compensation was given for this review/giveaway. I did receive a free copy of My Virtual Tutor First Grade to Second Grade from the manufacturer or the representing PR agency to use and test for the purposes of this review. This did not affect the outcome of this review.