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Review and Giveaway: SmartyAnts Innovative and Interactive Reading Program

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**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER BRANDEE WALTER!**

This month, LeapFrog’s founder released a must-have reading program for children ages 4-7: SmartyAnts. I was sent the product and was asked to try it out.

Or rather, my kids were. Last I checked I’m a pretty good reader.

Problem is, my 6-year-old daughter Hadley isn’t. I’ve struggled to get her excited about reading but have been frustrated with her lack of patience and my lack of ability in knowing how and what to teach her.

SmartyAnts may just save me.

What It Is:

There are a couple of different components to this product.

1) The SmartyAnts Phonics Reading Pup is a cuddly, 11-inch-tall robotic dog that offers a fun, interactive way to learn to read.

2) The dog comes with a free one-month membership to the SmartyAnts Web site, an innovative site that provides a wide selection of reading games and activities, more than 60 stories, over 300 sing-a-long songs, and 125 learning videos that provide phonics, letter-recognition, and word-building skills.

It doesn’t stop there. Puppy is loaded with 10 phonics-based songs and he moves his head and body while he sings in a freakishly realistic manner. He also comes with a USB cord that connects from him to your computer. While your child plays at SmartyAnts.com, the pup will automatically choose from over 300 learn-along songs that will reinforce the skills your child is learning. Your children can practice the skills they learn online anywhere they take the puppy.

This, I think, is the very best part of SmartyAnts.

For my daughter, “the best part is the shopping.”

We all have our priorities.

Getting Started

To setup our SmartyAnts page, we named Hadley’s ant (the main character in the story), her dog (Roxy) and three ant friends who would follow us on our journey. To customize and personalize her tutorials, I submitted specific information about her reading level and if she is able to navigate a computer mouse.

Once in the SmartyAnts World, we encountered some fun, interactive activities like the dog park to get Hadley acclimated to the Web site. Once she was comfortable, her ant Lila was introduced to the Activity Board where she chose choose games to explore (and earn coins) and places to spend them.

This portion of SmartyAnts has a very Webkinz feel but here’s the difference: Hadley never got into Webkinz. She loved this.

Before long, she was playing various word games that had one goal in mind: to teach her specific words that she would put into her own story book and later, a music DVD. Talk about practical application.

There were different levels of difficulty for each activity that will help keep pace with her as she progresses so she can stay challenged. The games/activities are easy to win, which instilled much-needed confidence. There is also the option for SmartyAnts to send you reports to stay apprised of your child’s progress.

There are also videos about “Big New Concepts,” such as contractions. I loved these tutorials because 1) they taught Hadley how to do it and 2) they taught me how to teach her.

We are still early in our journey with SmartyAnts but so far , I highly recommend this product. I am hopeful this will be a much-needed catalyst to instill a lifelong love of reading in my daughter.

SmartyAnts Phonics Reading Pup retails for $29.99 and comes with a free one-month membership to SmartyAnts.com. A one-year membership for the Web site with a Phonics Reading Pup is $69.99.

Mile High Mamas is thrilled to give away a Phonics Reading Pup and a one-year membership to SmartyAnts.com. Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is November 30, 2010.

Disclosure: I received a Phonics Reading Pup and a one-year subscription to SmartyAnts.com to review for this post.

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