Sunburst's Vowels: Short and Long
Vowels: Short and Long aims to help students further their understanding of word structures and vowels. A series of multimedia activities focuses on distinguishing short and long vowel sounds. Other activities challenge students to use their knowledge of vowels and word patterns in composing their own rhymes and songs.
The software is aimed at kindergarten through second grade students. However, I teach kindergarten, and I found that this product was above the level of most of my incoming students. I think that it could fit into the first or second grade curriculum easily, and could even be implemented in a kindergarten class in the latter part of the year, once students have a foundation in vowel sounds.
The program is very easy to learn: it can be mastered just by playing with it. Its instructions are easy to follow. There are short movies for the children to watch as they move from one activity to another. The menu is easy for children to interpret, and the kids just have to click on an icon to move to another activity. The sound is great. The music and the pictures are really good, as well.
One thing that disappoints me about this program is that it is very similar to the program Letter Sounds by Sunburst. If I had to pay for this program and already owned Letter Sounds, I would be upset, since their activities are so similar. Just be sure to purchase whichever program best suits your classroom needs.
Another thing that is disconcerting is that the children can click the mouse and move out of the activity before they have completed it. On the word list, the program allows the children to put the words under the wrong list and d'es not correct the mistake. The program d'es not tell them that the word is in the wrong place unless the children check their work.
My students enjoyed watching the films included in the program, so the software succeeds in gaining childrens attention. They were eager to do the activities, although they often needed my help. Teachers assistance is a good idea in any case, since the program allows students to use incorrect answers.
Although the program presented difficulties for my kindergarten class, I think children in first or second grade would enjoy this software and find it easy to use.
This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.