TotTutor is an educational program for the PalmPilot that is designed for 1-on-1 interactive learning between a parent and child (or an older child and a younger child). TotTutor has 5 different lessons (shapes, sizes, letters, numbers, and directions), all of which can also be used to teach the basic colors on color devices. In each lesson various scenarios are presented. For younger babies, the teacher can simply describe what is presented. For older infants, the teacher can ask questions about what is displayed, requiring the child to point or to answer verbally.
TotTutor has several advantages over flash cards, which could be used to present some of the same material:
- Portability - If you take your Palm device with you wherever you go, you will always have TotTutor available without having to remember to pack anything extra. TotTutor, in fact, effectively replaces a stack of thousands of flash cards because of...
- Randomness - Since flash cards are static, infants can unintentionally learn the wrong things, such as the fact that the small, blue square is always on top of the large red triangle. This can't happen with TotTutor since each scenario is dynamically created. (This also helps keep TotTutor's memory requirement very low.)
- Free Updates - All future updates to TotTutor are free to registered users.
Table of Contents
TotTutor is designed for infants from about 6 months to 5 years old. There are 5 lessons covering shapes, sizes, letters, numbers, and directions. Each lesson presents an endless series of scenarios (use the "New Lesson" menu option to start a different lesson). TotTutor has several options that can be set by choosing the Preferences menu item (or tapping on the Prefs button on the New Lesson screen).
Each TotTutor lesson teaches one or more basic concepts:
All of the above lessons can also be used to teach the basic colors on color devices.
- Directions - Teaches the concepts of left, right, up, down, and middle.
- Letters - Teaches the upper and lower case letters of the English alphabet. Letters can be presented randomly or in order.
- Numbers - Teaches the numbers from 1 to 10 (and higher, and 0). Numbers can be presented randomly or in order.
- Shapes - Teaches the basic shapes starting with the triangle, square, and circle.
- Sizes - Teaches the concepts of smaller and larger.
The Directions lesson is designed to teach the concepts of left, right, up, down, top, bottom, and middle. It is also good for teaching shape recognition (picking one shape out of three). Each scenario presented contains three different shapes aligned horizontally or vertically. You can ask your child questions such as:
- What shape is to the left of the square?
- Which shape is on top?
- Can you point to the star?
- What color is the shape in the middle? (color devices only)
- Which shape is blue? or Can you point to the blue shape? (color devices only)
There is only one settable option for the Directions lesson. You can specify the Positions of the shapes.
- Left/Right - Shapes are aligned horizontally.
- Top/Bottom - Shapes are aligned vertically.
- Both - Shapes are aligned either horizontally or vertically.
The Letters lesson is designed to teach the English alphabet. Each scenario displays an upper or lower case letter. You can ask your child questions such as:
- What letter is this?
- What letter comes after this letter?
- What words start with this letter?
There are two settable options for the Letters lesson:
- Case - Display Upper case or Lower case letters or Both.
- Order - Display letters in Alphabetical or random order. Random 1 allows
letters to repeat at any time (truly random letter selection) while Random 2 goes through all letters before
In Alphabetical mode, the down arrow hardware button goes to the next letter, while the up arrow goes to the previous letter.
The Numbers lesson is designed to teach numbers. Each scenario simply displays a number. You can ask your child questions such as:
- What number is this?
- What number comes after this number?
There are three settable options for the Numbers lesson:
- Low - Set the lower bound for the numbers displayed (0 or 1).
- High - Set the upper bound for the numbers displayed (10, 20, or 100).
- Order - Display numbers in Numerical or random order. Random 1 allows
numbers to repeat at any time (truly random number selection) while Random 2 goes through all numbers before
In Numerical mode, the down arrow hardware button goes to the next higher number, while the up arrow goes to the next lower number.
The Shapes lesson is designed to teach the basic shapes. Each scenario displays a shape and, optionally, a label describing the shape. You can ask your child questions such as:
- What shape is this? or What do you see?
- What color is the diamond? (on color devices only)
There are two settable options for the Shapes lesson:
- Labels - Location of optional text description of shape (Top, Bottom, or None).
- Font - Sets the font used for drawing the labels (NOTE: the large bold font is not available under PalmOS 2.0).
The Sizes lesson is designed to teach the concepts of small and big, wide and thin, and tall and short. Each scenario presented contains a smaller shape and a larger shape. You can ask your child questions such as:
- Which shape is larger/smaller/wider/thinner/taller/shorter?
- Is the heart or rectangle bigger?
- Can you point to the larger shape?
- What color is the smaller shape? (color devices only)
There are two settable options for the Sizes lesson: You can specify the Positions of the shapes.
- Position - Sets the relative locations of the two shapes (Left/Right, Top/Bottom, or Both).
- Same Shapes - If checked, the two shapes will be the same. If unchecked, the two shapes will be different.
TotTutor has only 1 menu (tap on the menu silk-screen icon just above the Datebook hardware button), an Options menu with the following choices:
- New Lesson... - Displays the New Lesson screen from which a new lesson can be chosen. The Graffiti shortcut for this option is "/N".
- Preferences... - Displays the TotTutor Preferences screen where you can set various preferences. The Graffiti shortcut for this option is "/R".
- Registration... - For unregistered copies of TotTutor, displays a screen on which you can enter your registration code after you have paid. This removes the occasional registration reminder on startup. See the section below on Registering TotTutor.
- Beam TotTutor - Beams the TotTutor application (TotTutor.prc) to another Palm handheld device.
- Help - Displays the TotTutor help screen (very minimal compared to this document).
- About TotTutor - Displays version and other information about TotTutor. The Graffiti shortcut for this option is "/I".
You can bring up the Preferences screen by using the Preferences... menu option, the "/R" Graffiti shortcut, or the Prefs button on the New Lesson screen.
The Preferences options are:
- Sound - Sets whether sound is turned On, Off, or set to match the System Game Sounds preference.
- Return Screen - Sets whether TotTutor always starts up on the New Lesson screen or continues the previous lesson on the Main screen.
- Lesson Help - Sets whether a help screen with sample questions is popped up at the start of each new lesson.
- Hardware Btns - Sets whether the hardware buttons can be used. On the main screen, the 4 main hardware buttons advance to the next scenario. On most other screens the 4 hardware buttons correspond to the buttons at the bottom of the screen, from left to right (E.g., Datebook hardware button for OK and Address Book hardware button for Cancel).
- Screen Arrows - if checked, on-screen arrow buttons are displayed. From left to right across the bottom of the screen, these buttons are:
(return arrow) - Goes to the New Lesson screen.
(question Mark) - Goes to the Help screen.
(left arrow) - Goes to the previous scenario (only available in some cases).
(right arrow) - Goes to next scenario in the lesson.
- # of Shapes specify the set of shapes that can be displayed:
3 - Square, Circle, and Triangle
6 - All of the above plus Star, Heart, and Diamond
8 - All of the above plus Rectangle and Oval
- Colors - On color devices, sets the number of colors that will be used to 6 (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) or 8 (adds pink and brown).
- Bg Color - On color devices, sets whether the background should be color (very light pink, yellow, etc.) or not (white).
TotTutor is $4 shareware. All future upgrades are free! Simple economics will dictate how many upgrades there will be, so please register and spread the word...
See the Purchasing.html document or tap on the Help button on TotTutor's Registration screen for details on how obtain a registration code.
Once you have your registration code, go back into TotTutor and use the Registration menu option to bring up the Registration screen. Enter the code and click on the OK button. You should get a confirmation window indicating that you're all set. Thanks!
In the "Apps" folder, the file TotTutorDoc.prc is a Doc-formatted version of this file. This file can be installed on your PalmPilot for reference if you have any Doc reader installed. You can download the free PalmReader (http://www.ereader.com/ereader/software/browse.htm).
In the "Docs" folder the following files can also be found:
- TotTutorDoc.html - Documentation for TotTutor readable in a web browser such as Netscape Communicator or Internet Explorer.
- TotTutorDoc.txt - Documentation for TotTutor readable in any text editor.
- VERSION.txt - Release history for TotTutor.
Many thanks to:
- My son Kevin - for inspiring this program, even if he is still a little too young to use most of it.
- My wife Jade - for all her support during this (and all of my other programming endeavors).
- All of the great beta testers and their children - for coming up with some great ideas and making TotTutor a better program.
TotTutor Version 1.1.3, March 16, 2006
TotTutor is Copyright (C)2002-2006 by Robert Jen.
The latest version of TotTutor and other PalmPilot and Macintosh software can be found at http://www.rjen.com (specifically http://www.rjen.com/Pilot/TotTutor.html). Questions, comments, and any other email can be sent to the author Robert Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your feedback is much appreciated.