We didn’t set out to be software developers. We are research
psychologists ( http://www.talkingfingers.com/about-jeannine-herron/) whose focus is how the young brain learns. But in the
mid-1980s it became clear to us, as we investigated the uses of
technology in education, that existing software did not fulfill
the vision we had for how computers could help children learn
to read and write.
We sat down beside a six year old, at an Apple computer,
and said, “We talk to each other with our mouths. We talk to the
computer with our fingers.” We showed her how to feel for and
place her “tall fingers” on the D and K keys. We touched her
“pointer finger” on her left hand and said, “This finger says ‘fff’”.
We touched her “pinkie finger” and told her it said ‘aaa’. “Now,
can you can write FA?” we asked. No problem. She typed FA and
asked for more.
All she had to do was learn a finger stroke for every speech
sound. And there are only forty of them.
The computer remembers how to form the letters, how to space
them evenly so they can be easily read, and how to make them
go from left to right. This is especially important at first, when
there’s so much to remember. All along the way, we had several
guiding principles. We wanted to integrate phonics, encoding,
word-processing and keyboarding into one single program—
learning to write. Above all, we wanted that process to be fun.
To accomplish this we incorporated several features into the
• Characters who “live” in the keyboard. Each key takes on an
• Stories, songs and rhymes about these characters.
• Suggestions for related activities for the classroom.
• A “story line” adventure—new episodes each week. A story
skeleton provides a framework for students writing their own
• An Activity Book full of ideas for writing activities, for teaching writing as a process.
We have drawn on the experience of 30-plus years of neuro-psychology research to incorporate what we know about how
young brains learn. Likewise, we have tried to build in safety
nets for those children who have difficulty with language tasks,
and we have added extensive audio help in nine languages for
those who are learning English as a second language. Our goal
is to contribute toward a more literate and thoughtful society.
We invite you to join us in that mission.