Review: Ben & Betty ‘all-in-one learning programme for young children’
Aled really enjoys playing games and he can already count to 10 and recognise some letters, including the letter ‘A for Aled’! So I was pleased to have the opportunity to try out some Ben & Betty interactive games with him. Here are some initial impressions.
Things we liked:
- My little boy really enjoyed the games and wanted to play them over and over again. He bounced around excitedly every time he got something right.
- He seemed to like the graphics. He giggled when the ant ate the apple and the butterflies flew out of the box and kept asking to ‘play the game with the rabbits’.
- From what I could see, the games help to reinforce other informal learning opportunities available at home and at nursery. For example, we are already starting to spot letters together and sound them out.
- I liked the fact that the games looked simple and didn’t have any branded characters to distract from the focus on the learning.
- The games lent themselves to discussion between parent and child. For example, Aled was happy to point out the ‘odd one out’ and say why – e.g. “That one! It’s upside down.”
- It was also nice to have something that seemed very British, from English pronunciation of the letters to the sounds of birdsong in the background.
Things we didn’t like quite so much:
- No Mac version – I had to borrow a laptop PC from work to try this out.
- Sometimes there seemed to be too much emphasis on getting the cursor in the correct place (e.g. on the ‘odd one out’) or pressing a button at the right moment (e.g. on ‘spot the letter’). I’d love to try a touch screen version of these games on the iPad!
- All the instructions for the games were written on the screen so I had to explain what to do, especially at first. It would have been nice to have had audio instructions as well.
- There didn’t seem to be as much about numbers as letters, even in the level 1 games. This seemed a bit of a shame as Aled loves numbers.
- I didn’t think Aled was old enough for worksheets as he can barely do more than scribble at present. So we haven’t tried those yet.
If you’re after games to play with your pre-schooler on your home PC, then the Ben & Betty packs are well worth getting at only £29.95 per pack. But don’t take my word for it – you can try the sample games out on their website for free. This could also help if you’re undecided between starter level and level 1. The website is easy to use and also sells some very attractive-looking educational toys to support the programme.
As for me, I’m going to see if I can borrow that laptop PC from work for a bit longer. And if Ben & Betty want anyone to test out a Mac or iPad version we’ll be first in line!
Disclosure: I received a free Ben & Betty demonstration disc with samples of starter level and level 1 interactive games and activity sheets via my membership of Blog-Match.com