With the geekson starting school last month, we’ve been spending a lot of time with Biff, Chip & Kipper. He keeps coming home with different reading books in the series, and I managed to pick up a boxed set of 24 books covering the first three reading levels from The Book People. So I was excited to hear that Nintendo have released Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper, a study series for the 2DS and 3DS designed to help younger children practise their letters and sounds.
According to Nintendo the software “will help your child build their English vocabulary through fun exercises in reading, writing and speaking, and is based on the Oxford Reading Tree series, Floppy’s Phonics. These books use the synthetic phonics method to introduce all the sounds of the English language, and centre around the beloved characters Biff, Chip and Kipper, as well as Floppy the dog.”
There are three volumes in this software series, and they’re all designed to support the methods of teaching phonics used throughout the Oxford Reading Tree. There are eight levels of increasing difficulty and each software volume covers several of these levels, containing the equivalent of over 30 Oxford Reading Tree textbooks! As a Nintendo blogger family we were given the opportunity to review one of these volumes, and I chose to receive a free copy of Volume 1, which I thought would be the best for the geekson as he is just starting to read.
Volume 1 comprises levels 1, 1+ and 2. At Level 1 children focus on the sounds they hear around them in daily life – at school, at home, in the park or in town. Levels 1+ and 2 move onto practising the actual sounds (phonemes) and also start to introduce some alternative spellings of certain sounds. We’ve only had the software for a couple of days, but I can see there is an impressive amount of content to work through, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. The geekson has been enjoying working his way through level 1, which involves listening to sounds, identifying the source of the sound in a picture, and then (his favourite part) recording yourself making the sound using the 2DS microphone. The software keeps track of which activities have been completed so that parents can see how their child has been progressing, although at the geekson’s age this software is best used by parent and child together. Nintendo have produced an excellent downloadable parents’ guide which provides lots of information to help you support your child as they work through the exercises. I’ve taken a quick dip in to levels 1+ and 2 and can see they build on the foundations of level 1, continuing the “identify the object in the picture that makes this sound”, but at this level the sounds are letter sounds. The software also introduces some new activities at this level, such as tracing the letters with the stylus.
On the whole I am very impressed with Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper. I am pleased to see a genuinely educational title on the 2DS platform and I very much like that it supports the learning my son is doing at school. My one criticism would be that I don’t thinks it takes full advantage of the 2DS dual screen hardware – it feels in most of the activities that the child just needs to concentrate on the lower screen and the upper screen is very under-used. If you have a small child starting out with learning their phonics then I think this is an excellent investment.
Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper is available to download from the Nintendo eShop at £17.99 per volume. It can be played on the Nintendo 2DS and 3DS platforms. It is also available to buy in all good software stores, and I have managed to find Volume 1 (affiliate link) and Volume 2 (affiliate link) on Amazon also for £17.99. For some reason Volume 3 (also an affiliate link) is a little more expensive at £21.27.
Disclosure: We were provided with a free copy of Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper for review purposes. All prices correct at time of publication. Amazon links in this post contain my affiliate ID which means that if you make a purchase after clicking, at no additional cost to you, I receive a small commission payment.