In this aptly named program, kids board a pirate ship, where they learn and drill early reading skills. As they venture throughout the ship, from aft to fore deck, and from the captain's quarters to the crow's nest, kids learn about letters and letter sounds. Having mastered these building blocks of reading, they can go on to drill sight words with virtual flash cards, and eventually test their reading skills with read along stories.
Phonics Voyage does a thorough job of presenting and drilling early reading skills. Amusing nautical activities focus on consonant sounds -- both beginning and ending. They teach long, short and combination vowel sounds, sight words and sentence building. The program incorporates numbers, days of the week, months of the year and colors into the various drill activities. Finally, it includes a sing-a-long activity to keep young children interested and enthused about learning.
In addition to a real-life host (who looks like Orson Wells in a pirate costume), Phonics Voyage features cartoon drawings and simple animation. Although kids on the older end of the age range might find the theme a bit overdone, its "Pirates of the Caribbean" atmosphere can be quite charming. The program's biggest shortfall is its uneven sound quality, which becomes frustrating when to completing activities which require auditory responses.
Our testers gave the program good scores for appeal, but mentioned that they would have liked more diversity in the activities. Their favorite was the sentence building activity, in which nouns, adjectives and verbs are jumbled together to create potentially silly sentences.
Ease of Use / Install
Phonics Voyage installs without difficulty. Program navigation is simple -- an easily accessed Index includes links to each of the program's lessons and games.
Best for... / Bottom-Line
Phonics Voyage successfully introduces kids to required early reading skills. Because of the pirate theme, it is likely to appeal most to young boys.