by Jill Aktas and Mark Hewson


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SPELL ME will help your child with the first steps in alphabet recognition and spelling and will develop word and picture association skills


* Lots of colour and Nursery Rhyme rewards for correct answers
* Upper or lower case letters

* Progressive levels

* Multiple choice timer

SPELL ME allows your child to develop at his or her own pace either with parent's or teacher's guidance or alone. Pictures of familiar objects are presented for which the child has to provide the correctly spelt word. In the first level the word will stay on screen so that the child can match the letters. In the next level the word disappears after a few seconds so that the child has to recall the word and its correct spelling whilst in the most difficult level only the picture is shown requiring the child to associate and spell the correct word. Each level may be made more difficult by changing the timer and your child's progress may be monitored by the built in points score.

(c) 1988 J. Aktas and PAGE 6 Software



IMPORTANT: Ensure that all peripherals connected to your ATARI are switched off with the exception of the cassette recorder.

1. Place the SPELL ME tape in the cassette deck and press the PLAY button on the recorder
2. Switch on the computer and wait until the READY prompt appears

3. Type RUN "C:" and press the RETURN key on computer twice

An introductory screen will appear and the main SPELL ME program will then load. Loading time is approximately twelve minutes. Should the tape fail to load, FAST-FORWARD the tape to the end, turn the tape over the tape and try the above process again from step 1. The program is recorded on both sides of the cassette.

When the program has successfully loaded there will be a brief initialisation before the program commences.


IMPORTANT: Ensure that all peripherals (such as interfaces) connected to your ATARI are switched off with the exception of the disk drive.

1. Insert the SPELL ME disk in Drive 1
2. Switch the computer on - do NOT hold the OPTION key

3. The program will run automatically

NOTE: The SPELL ME disk should be left in the disk drive as additional pictures are loaded after 20 words and pictures have been used. At this point the screen will go blank for a short time, and the computer will try to load the second batch of pictures. If the disk drive is turned off, or the disk is not in the drive the program will use the first batch of pictures again but in a different order.



It is clear that each parent must find their own way to best help their child to develop - however certain guiding principles apply in every case. The following is offered as a general perspective, written by a qualified teacher. To achieve an element of balance between the sexes "she" is used in the first section, and "he" in the second. Whichever pronoun has been used, the text refers equally to both sexes.

It is now widely accepted that children are most receptive to learning from birth to five years old. Don't waste these precious years!

The aims of education are diverse but the ultimate objective would probably be to aid the child to maximise her potentials, to broaden her horizons so that she matures into an articulate, confident, aware adult, able to analyse and generalise the phenomena of reality and capable of a fruitful and rewarding existence. You can give your child a head start if you have the right attitude. Try to encourage your child to question and explore her world. Be patient always, and try to take a long term view. Answer her honestly and if you don't know the answers - be frank and say so - but remember to add "we can look it up at the library" or "I think Mum or Grandad will know the answer to that". Never ignore your child's questions and never put your child down or ridicule her or you will lose her trust.

Enlightened parents try to permit their children maximum freedom to learn. Of course you should stop your child doing anything positively dangerous - but if you feel tempted to say "Don't!" or "No!" or "Stop it!" - pause for a moment and ask yourself "why?". It may be that a little extra mess will be bearable if you see it as a step in your child's development. That small step can become a giant leap! Always be POSITIVE and try to follow your child's natural inclinations. Never force your child to do something because you think it's "time". When she is ready she will be more receptive. You will know when the time comes - if you try to stay alert to your child's needs.

Ideally, you should have introduced your child to books from an early age. She should be used to sitting quietly with you and turning the pages of a book. She may enjoy using the computer, and will have her favourite games. There are some very definite advantages to using a computer as a learning aid. Your child may not yet be sufficiently dexterous to use a pencil successfully, so the computer's "writing" will give a sense of reward and achievement so that the child will be positively encouraged to continue. (However, pencils and paper are still absolutely essential items and you should not forget this!)

The computer is colourful and dynamic and your child will have a sense of controlling her own learning environment in a stimulating atmosphere more akin to play than the traditional educational context. (NOTE: The eminent educational psychologist Vygotsky describes play as a child's most valuable learning experience.) Your child can progress at her own speed and make her own choices. In addition, hand and eye co-ordination are also developed, since a variety of motor skills are required to operate a computer successfully. To summarise - your computer has a distinct role to play in your child's intellectual and physical development.

It is essential that you should be with your child when she first uses the program SPELL ME, and actively participate in the game. However, after an initial period of supervision SPELL ME may be used by the child on her own. This will encourage self-reliance and independence. But remember, she needs you - so be there when she asks for your help.



Remembering the following points will allow you and your child to get the best from SPELL ME.

* Play at your child's speed - not your own.

* Help your child to succeed.
* Praise a correct answer, but do not criticise your child for an incorrect response. Be constructive and ask him to try again. Help him to find his error and work through it systematically together.

It cannot be stressed enough that attitude is all important. When used correctly SPELL ME can play a valuable role in the early days of literacy teaching. You will find for yourself that your child responds positively to it - with your help he can build on that base and go on to fully develop his own potential.

J. Hewson B.A., P.G.C.E.


SPELL ME begins with upper case letters.(large letters) These are used because they match the keyboard of the computer. SPELL ME may also be played using lower case letters simply by pressing the SELECT button. Press only once, and the computer will remember your command, and re-draw the alphabet at the earliest opportunity. (Should you wish to use lower case it is a good idea to stick adhesive letters on the keyboard.) As the alphabet is redrawn, explain to your child what is happening. The relationship between upper and lower case letters is a difficult concept for small children to grasp, and so we at Castle Software have especially designed SPELL ME to help children with the development of this concept.

The game begins in the simplest mode. A word will appear at random, with a picture alongside. (The pictures are shuffled so that they appear in a different order for every game.) The child will recognise the picture as an everyday object. However, should he be in doubt, try to offer clues so that he manages to name the object correctly.

If your child fails to name the object, then name it yourself and help him to continue. You can press START to change the word - however you will lose a point. Please do realise that it is better to allow the child to name it, even if it means a wait and more effort on your part. Enter the letters to copy the word. Press the RETURN key. Should you forget to press RETURN, then a visual reminder will appear, followed after an interval by a chiming tone. A correct answer is rewarded by one of three different nursery rhymes. If the entry is incorrect, a short dull sound is produced and the child can try again. A second failed attempt means a point lost. The computer then fills in the correct answer, which should be pointed out clearly to your child.

The points system is significant in that it will permit you to keep an eye on how your child is doing when he uses the program by himself. The most important thing for you to remember is that children thrive on success, and it is your job to enable your child to succeed.

There is a time limit for completion of each word, which varies according to the number of letters involved, and which may be altered to create nine difficulty levels. The time limit begins with a "blip" noise as the time bar turns red. We have found that most children like to imagine that there is a "time burglar" (or similar) behind the "wall" who is waiting to steal their letters. It's good to encourage your child to use his imagination in this way, as it will help him to understand the concept of "time limit".

In order to minimise confusion, all keys which are not necessary for playing SPELL ME have been disabled. The usual DELETE-BACK-SPACE key remains usable so that errors can be corrected by the child, before pressing RETURN.



Once he has mastered Option 1 your child can move on to the other levels of difficulty.

The OPTION key allows you to choose the difficulty level. There are three levels available and pressing the OPTION key will cycle through each level. The three levels of difficulty are:

1 - The word and picture appear together
2 - The word and picture appear together but the word disappears after 1 time unit has elapsed
3 - The picture appears without the word

The SELECT key will toggle between upper and lower case letters and the alphabet at the top of the screen will change each time the key is pressed.

The START key will enable the player to give up on a word if he or she gets stuck.

To CHANGE SPEED (i.e. how fast the timer counts down) hold down the SHIFT key and press a number from 1 to 9. 1 allows the longest time to complete the word and 9 the shortest. The chosen speed will be shown at the top centre of the screen.

SYSTEM RESET will re-run the game at any point.

The Atari "attract mode" has not been disabled as young children may often walk away and leave the computer and TV switched on. If the game is left unattended for around 8 minutes, the screen will go blank, and slowly change to various colours. This is a feature of your Atari designed to protect your television. Simply press any key to return to your game of SPELL ME.