Disclosure: In order to facilitate this post, I was provided with a free year of web and app access to Speakaboos, a fun way to promote literacy for preschoolers and any child who is learning to read.
When I was a child, I had Sesame Street, and books from the library. I also clearly remember learning to read in first grade, not in Kindergarten, when it is expected now. To me it seems like content that encourages our children to explore the foundational skills for academic activities is everywhere, starting from birth. Aside from traditional books, television and preschool classrooms, now there are toys, educational learning tablets, e-readers, websites, and apps that we can download onto our smartphones, that provides our children with high definition educational activities at their fingertips, anywhere, anytime.
I’m not sure what happened, but one day Gavin wasn’t able to name any letters of the alphabet, then he was pointing out letters on billboards in the car, on boxes at the supermarket and labeling strings of letters in a row from the books we read together at night. I mainly credit his preschool teachers for their dedication to exposing him consistently to letters and their sounds, but at home given his love for Super Why!, his TAG Reader and Skippyjonjones, I’d like to think that such a wide range of literacy experiences is what has helped to foster his awareness at an early age.
Speakaboos is a platform that provides hundreds of interactive activities that help promote reading that include songs, movies, books, games and activities to children online, and in an app form, all organized around themes and childhood interests. Some content includes an animated version of well-known fables and fairy tales such as Cinderella, Rapunzel and the Tortoise and the Hare. While in addition, content also includes interactive versions of books such as Mechanimals and Truck Stuck. Topics include Monsters, Fantasy, Bugs, Sports, Vehicles, Princesses, Music, Animals, and Friends & Family. There is English content, as well as exposure to books and activities in Spanish.
The books in the app can frequently be utilized in 1 of 3 formats, “Read to Me, Read & Play, Read It Myself.” Depending upon the format, in Read it Myself, children can read it themselves, but if they touch the words, the program will say them out loud. In Read to Me the story is read to a child in conjunction with highlighted text. Read and Play reads the story, while also encouraging children to interact with the characters and the story by touching the screen.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed when Gavin uses iPad apps, he frequently gets what I call “home button ADD.” The moment he’s bored or distracted, which could literally be within seconds, he goes to the main menu of the iPad and choses a different app. A feature of Speakaboos that I love is that it suggests additional content when the book is finished. With this format, he is much more apt to chose another book to listen to, then he is to hit the home button when using Speakaboos.
Some children struggle with learning to read. I also like that there are multiple experiences for children in this app. For children who aren’t into reading books, they can be engaged with some of the videos, then exposed to the e-books over time. Our favorite experiences in Speakaboos right now are videos from an upcoming show that will be released on television in 2014 called SpaceRacers. The Little Pim section provides exposure to Spanish teaching colors and numbers using common childhood foods and items. Earlier this afternoon Gavin randomly said the word “rojo” and yelled to me, “Mom I’m speaking Spanish!”
Speakaboos is a monthly or annually based subscription. If you are parent, have more than one child, are a teacher, homeschool, or are just looking to expose your child to solid yet fun educational content, you won’t be disappointed in Speakaboos. Every time we access the app from the iPad it seems like new content is frequently being added. There is access to content, games and downloadable activities on the Speakaboos website as well.
If you believe in teaching children about literacy, share the Speakaboos concept through this post with your friends on Facebook in your community and help spread the word about this unique program.
Speakaboos provided me with a free code to experience content for the year. Any additional opinions are my own.