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Baby Touchscreen01
Brother P-Touch as kid’s toy – Damien Stolarz

My daughter learned the alphabet using a variety of learning aids. I particularly credit the Leapfrog DVD series for teaching her both letter recognition and phonics. The learning games on her computer also helped reinforce some of the alphabet concepts, and with our coaching, she’s learned to recognize and spell a nice sampling of three letter words – cat, mom, dad, dog, etc.

One day I was labeling boxes with my Brother P-Touch system. The P-Touch is a thermal labeling system, battery powered, with a full QWERTY keyboard. It has a digital display, and you simply type in a word, press “PRINT,” and then your label emerges.

My daughter, already familiar with a keyboard from a computer, found my P-Touch lying on the floor and became engrossed in it. I suggested that she type in her name, and after a fairly rapid hunt and peck, she was delighted to have a sticker with her name on it. I proceeded to ask her each of the words in her small spelling vocabulary and she successfully printed all of them out with very little coaching.

Probably the most fun, though, is her creative writing. I’ll come back to my laboratory where my daughter has been contentedly making up long, unpronounceable words on the P-Touch like QIDKMGKPUZ and printing them out one after another. The remarkable thing is that a 3-year-old is experimenting with words, at length, learning to use a keyboard before she can even write. believe an old test of literacy was whether you could write your name or whether you could only sign legal documents with an “X.” Well, my daughter can type her name and is certainly on her way to literacy.

Damien Stolarz is an inventor with a decade of experience making different kinds of computers talk to each other. His book, Car PC Hacks, is published by O’Reilly Media.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. richgibson says:

    Sure…letting your kids use your P-Touch is great fun for the kids, but then it results in a broken p-touch and a bit of work with duct tape to fix…chronicled here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/rich_gibson/tags/pt65/

  2. milleker says:

    Those things are near indestructable. I’ve dropped all of mine off ladders, pallets full of boxes, on concrete. I have the bigger pc-enabled model listed in the article, as well as the more portable one ‘fixed’ by duct tape as posted in comments. To break the yellow lever off the smaller model you have to pull hard in the wrong direction. So, if your kid cant be trusted to be careful with the thing, get them some lincoln logs instead.

    And a side note, with the cost of the labels I bet Brother loves this guy!

  3. kilroy says:

    I did the same thing with my daughter, she was allowed to use the p-touch as much as she wanted as long as she wrote real words. She would cary the p-touch arround the house looking for words to copy.

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