I have a little girl who loves doing school. She is only three years old, but she badly wants to do school just like everyone else does, and is thrilled when I print her a page to do. When PandaParents asked for people to review their program, MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS, I showed it to her. She wanted me to print it out immediately so she could get started that night, and wasn’t real happy when I told her she had to wait till it was sent to us. Ever since we got it, she has been wanting to do her “new school” almost every day. One Sunday night when I was putting her to bed and she was overtired, she cried that she “had to do her school” and therefore couldn’t go to bed yet! Of course, I let her know that she was definitely going to bed right then, and had to wait till morning to do school, and then Gayle and I had a chuckle about the latest excuse for prolonging bedtime.
Each month of MESSYLEARNING has a storybook and a video of the same story being read, and then a lot of activities to go along with the story. These activities teach concepts such as patterns, shapes, sounds, and numbers.
We were sent three months of the program. I did not use A Jolly Jingling Journey, because we don’t do Santa Claus. I did look over it a bit; basically the story is about a little boy dreaming about going to the North Pole and meeting Santa Claus.
The first month we did is titled Mommy Baby. The story has to do with a child who doesn’t want to go to bed, and she and her mother play a game of Mommy and Baby–(“Are you Mommy’s little mittens? I am your little mittens.”) and so on. In the activities, several letters of the alphabet are introduced. There are activities that test comprehension and retention of the story, and others that talk about emotions and feelings. One section of pages discusses animal’s tails, what they look like and how they are used. One page matches animal mothers to babies, and some talk about big and little. There are also pages for matching pictures to silhouettes, and objects to their shapes. I was really surprised with how well Little Miss did on this one. I had her cut out the objects and glue them to the shapes, and even though her cutting skills still need some improvement she remembered the shape of the object and matched them all correctly. Toward the end of the book is a project of coloring and cutting out shapes and glueing them together to build a panda. Little Miss isn’t quite ready for this one, so we didn’t do it.
The other month we did is titled Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound. This story involves a skunk searching, through the four seasons of the year, for a good home. I don’t think the seasons mean anything to Little Miss yet; she couldn’t seem to grasp that concept. She loved doing dot-to-dots of a few letters, though, and coloring the S’s in a grid to make a path for the skunk. She did very well with the pages of matching animals to their homes and to silhouettes. Farther on, there is a project in which you are to make a picture of a sailboat by cutting and glueing shapes. I think she’ll be able to do that.
This course is fun for little ones who are begging to do school. For us, the timing was perfect, since I don’t have much suitable for a three-year-old, but have one who needs to feel like she’s doing the same kind of things the older children do. One thing that would have made it a lot better would be to have a physical copy of the book. There are so many pages to print, in color, that it would just be a lot nicer to have a workbook to use. Also, the instructions often suggest using stickers to cover pictures; it looks like these will be included in print versions, but obviously we only had pictures to cut out and glue. We did do some of the activities on the screen, but I don’t like to do that very much. For this age, I really prefer a hard copy. I liked all the practice Little Miss got with her fine motor skills. She has done a lot of tracing, coloring, and cutting with this program. I’ve been letting her glue the pictures she cuts out into a notebook, so we have somewhat of a record of what she has done at this age. I do think that for most children 4 or 5 would be a better age to do these books. There are a number of concepts that she wasn’t able to grasp yet, as I mentioned above. Maybe the best way to use it would be to use part of it as a preschool program and then again in a couple of years as a kindergarten program! It introduces a wide variety of concepts.