Big Red Dog does everything in a big way, but the understatement
in his latest software title, Clifford Phonics, is what
makes it one of the best Clifford games yet. Clifford Phonics is
uncommonly age-appropriate—just right for emergent readers. It
effectively drills simple phonics a little bit at a time. As kids
play the game, they work with basic letter sounds, very simple
sight words, word-object association, basic word families, and
The context of Clifford
Phonics is a carnival. The carnival host is coming up
short-handed, and Clifford, along with his faithful canine buddies,
are eager to help him out. Kids explore the carnival grounds, finding games,
and earning rewards that include decorations for a float. Once all
activities in the game have been played, kids can finish
decorating their float and take part in a parade sequence.
activity focuses on a basic concept in phonics and early reading.
One involves reconnecting hoses on a balloon-blowing machine by
matching words and pictures. The activity gradually advances as
children achieve—at first, kids match words and pictures with
the same words and pictures; next, players match words with their
pictures; and finally, kids match words with words. Red herrings
are added for extra challenge, and children must discern subtle
differences between words like pen and pan. Note
that none of these levels is too challenging for very beginners.
A Ferris wheel
activity involves working with word families (example, dog, log,
and bog). Children build silly stories by adding words to a
pre-written story (pictured above left). This activity comes complete with a laugh track
as kids’ stories are read aloud. Players work with rhymes in a
tightrope activity, and identify both upper- and lower-case
letters in a “cow herding” game. Finally, kids find objects
that start with given letters (pictured at right), and as kids advance in the
activity, more choices are thrown into the mix and letter blends
are added. Again, nothing is too challenging for children just
learning to sound out small words.
of main activities, the carnival setting is brimming with
mini-games that help kids practice building words. For
example, a Wheel-O-Words mini-game simply offers a word ending and kids spin
the wheel to build different words with the same word ending.
Another mini-game involves adding the silent “e” to simple
game is at times wordy, no pun intended, kids can certainly skip
through chatter by pressing the spacebar. All around, the design
of the program is superb, and the parade sequence at the end of
the game (the piece de resistance) is far from disappointing.
Children can decorate the float (see picture at left) bit by bit
at any point in the game using the reward decorations they earn by
playing the main activities.
This is one of
our favorite edutainment software games of the year. Why? It’s
fun and only gently challenging for emergent readers. It’s ideal
for children just beginning to find meaning in short small words,
and never over-stimulates or frustrates with inappropriate
material for the intended age group.
This title is now available as Clifford Reading Pack (DVD Box),
which includes Clifford Phonics software as well as 6
Clifford Phonics Scholastic books so that kids can practice new
phonics skills away from the computer as well! Great deal.
activities in a freeplay environment.
- Plenty of opportunities
to learn at every turn in the game.
- Difficulty levels adjust
automatically as children play each activity.
- Encouraging feedback.
- This program targets
children just learning basic phonics and building simple
words--not all children in the intended age group will
find challenge in the program.