McKINNEY Kids are having phonetic fun at the McKinney ISD's Herman Lawson Early Childhood Center.

Traditional flash cards literally come to life with new 3-D technology called Letters Alive. Teachers say the cards and noises are so real, kids no longer have to make believe.

I've had different reactions, said Holly Hammonds, the school's librarian. I've had one cry before.

Students are between three and five years old, and are part of Early Head Start, Head Start, and the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities.

The video game and movie-like look of Letters Alive is keeping kids focused. They don't even realize they'll walk away better prepared for kindergarten.

Rule of thumb is that for five minutes, they'll be engaged. For them to do that for 25 minutes, that's the biggest challenge of a teacher, Hammonds said.

And while this process starts with individual letters, Hammonds progresses to creating words and then sentences, hoping students will achieve beyond state expectations.

T-O-Y, spelled one student.

That kind of progress is motivating Hammonds, who knows that each time she flashes a card, it's not easy to forget.

They are going to remember that 'bear' and 'bare' starts with 'B.' That will be ingrained in their brains, she said.

The Letters Alive program is being studied by other local districts. It's so new, there aren't solid numbers out yet to prove its success rate.


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