Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Actively Learning and Moving in the Car- AutoLearner Review

Over the past month or two we have been really lucky to have this little contraption in our car
called the AutoLearner.

Our drives have been much more educational as we've slipped the alphabet cards into the AutoLearner holder and chatted all the way to preschool, on errands, or driving around with friends.

We have the Alphabet Set (with a white background- to save some ink) and the Vowel Sounds and Combination set (also with a white background). They came as a pdf file that we printed out at home and the AutoLearner holder arrived in the mail. Simple, pretty inexpensive, and packed full of possibility.

Each set came with a lesson guide for parents/caregivers. The suggestions for conversation starters are wonderful and easy to understand. There are also suggested literature connections that would be great books to keep in the car on long drives.

Lately we've been talking about letter T at our house, so I managed to snap a few shots of my son doing some letter T activities we came up with in the car with our AutoLearner.

Game 1: What do you hear?- Raise your hand if you hear a word that starts with the letter T, clap your hands if the word starts with a different letter than T.

I came up with tons of words... and we played all the way to preschool.

(Disclaimer- I only took pictures when we were parked... don't worry, I'm not driving and taking photos.)

Game 2: Mr. Pointy- Point to the picture that mom describes and yell the name of the picture! Then spell it while pointing to each letter. (This object is red and blue and has four wheels. What is it? a truck! T-R-U-C-K, TRUCK!)

While we drove around we also...

- wrote the letter in the air
- created sentences using the words on the card ("I see a big blue delivery truck").
- searched outside the car for words starting with the letter 
- talked about friends whose names started with the letter
- pointed to the different pictures on the cards using pointers (the recorder was the only "pointer" we had in the car on this particular day)
- hunted with our eyes for objects in the car that started with the letter (We are so lucky our car is such a mess! There was lots of stuff to look at!)
- we even used our special telescope to name the pictures on the card, look for the upper/lowercase letters, and look out the window

The AutoLearner has three goals:

- utilize car time to build pre-reading skills and vocabulary
- develop bonds between caregivers and children
- make learning fun

I LOVE all of these goals since they are several of the same reasons I share activities and crafts with you here on Toddler Approved.

In addition to using the AutoLearner cards that Lisa and Rachel sent us, we also created our own cards using some simple favorite objects in the house. We snapped a photo of the objects, printed the picture out, and stuck the homemade card in our AutoLearner holder.

This photo below shows a Beginning/Ending sound card for the words fire, dog, lego, and man.
My son loves these pieces from his Fireman Lego set, so they had to be included. He pointed at a picture, said it's name, and then I would prompt, "What letter does lego start with? L, What letter does lego end with? O"... then we described each picture and talked about them. He can talk about fire FOREVER!

He didn't get the answers correct 100% of the time (and we didn't talk about silent e with fire... we only talked about what letter ti started with)... but this was a great bonding and learning exercise for us. He loved hunting around for his favorite toys to photograph.

I am a big fan of the AutoLearner. I love that there are simple number, alphabet letter, and color lessons for preschoolers. The digraph and vowel combination lessons are also great enrichment lessons for my son and awesome for practicing with older kids.

I am hoping that they create cards that have...

- simple pictures and key words relating to nursery rhymes
- simple pictures and key words to related to favorite fairy tales/fables (ex. Three Little Pigs)
- holiday pictures with simple related vocabulary words
- various themes that kids love (dinosaurs, things that move, animals, etc.)

I would also love to see an option to purchase the set of cards already printed (instead of printing from home) and stored in a durable plastic folder to keep in the seat back pocket.

I am excited to see how this product continues to develop. I really enjoyed getting to review the product and love how it provides opportunities for fostering conversation and learning new skills in the car!

What other things do you do to learn in the car?

Disclosure: As mentioned above, I was sent free products from AutoLearner to use for this review. I have not been paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed in this post are mine. :)

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