Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Dots are HOT!

One of the coolest little educational toys that I have seen is Hot Dots by Educational Insights. They have them for lots of different subjects, but we only have a few sets. I was able to get some phonics ones used and then I splurged and bought the reading comprehension ones for the boys on Black Friday when they were buy one, get one free at a local teaching store. Basically, it is this specialized electronic "pen" (it doesn't write at all) that rings if you touch the correct answer and buzzes if you touch the incorrect answer. The pen works with all Hot Dot cards. You can also buy the dots to create your own if there is something special that you are working on.

Benjamin blew through the phonics ones in one sitting. Even though they are aimed at K-1, Ben's phonics skills are exceptional, so he found them really easy. The reading comprehension cards are aimed at 2nd grade-4th grade, and even the beginning ones are a little difficult for Ben to do without help. I am planning on using them over the summer with Andrew and Benjamin as extra practice. I love that they are great for independent practice.

Since Kate is beginning to read and still learning phonics, I figured that the phonics Hot Dots, although challenging for her, would be good practice. I was actually surprised at how many she was able to get correct. I had her work on "Word Families," and she was able to pick the ending sound combination of multiple letters that went with the picture. She loves when she gets the answer right and if she gets it wrong, will keep working until she figures it out.

The only two drawbacks I have found with this nifty little pen is that 1) if you don't touch the correct answer perfectly, it will sometimes give a false negative. This is especially frustrating for Andrew since his fine motor skills aren't perfect, but he knows that the answer is correct; and 2) the kids can control the volume. It can get especially loud and annoying, especially if you have two little boys who think it is funny to push the wrong answer repeatedly or push the correct answer repeatedly to make silly noises. I don't know if I am the only one struggling with that or not. You can turn off the sound and just have a green or red light come one, but my boys can easily turn the sound back on, so that whole function almost seems pointless. I wish it had a switch somewhere that needed a tool of some sort so that I could turn off the sound, but still keep the pen functional with the red and green lights. I am always looking for used sets of these cards in any subject. I have had some luck with Ebay and some luck with consignment stores/sales.

Here's Kate using the Hot Dots pen and card. She is also dressed like a princess. Check out her beautiful dress, jewelry, and hair accessories. And, yes, she is also wearing two scarfs...all on top of a turtleneck and jeans.

Hmmm... what could it be?

Ah! Fan... ends with "an."

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