Speaktacular Sight Words Edu — Speech Recognition for learning at home and in the classroom

Five years ago, I was sitting with my daughter, helping her practice reading her sight words – the collection of words that young children are encouraged to learn by sight – by using a set of flash cards.

SightWordsFlashCards

We would take things one flash card at a time, I’d read the word to her, if needed. Words which she needed to practice more were marked with a little pencil. We tried to practice frequently, but because of my busy schedule at work, I could not do this daily. I remember wishing that there was a way  that I could help her practice on days when I was busy and couldn’t sit with her to teach her, listen to her, and correct her, because I could see  an improvement in her foundational reading abilities after we practiced and learned the Sight Words.

That’s when I remembered that we have smart iOS devices –an application could assist in my daughter’s learning process by using speech recognition technology. The app could display the word, ask her to read it and understand what she says. It could correct her if she made a mistake, and automatically remember any words that were read incorrectly. Eureka! This app could empower parents, teachers and children with a sophisticated yet simple learning tool for building foundational reading skills in early readers.

I didn’t let my idea pass me by. I embarked on a mission to create such an application, and we now have Speaktacular Sight Words Edu – a revolutionary, voice-enabled application that allows children in grades kindergarten through third grade to use their own voice to properly pronounce words from three unique word lists critical to reading development.

Speaktacular Sight Words Edu

For the first time in the children’s app market, we’ve been able to utilize the same world-recognized voice recognition software that powers some of the world’s most powerful brands, and apply it to one of the most critical skills in the learning process teaching children to read and correctly annunciate their words in an interactive and exciting format that rewards them for their efforts.

Children not only familiarize themselves with new words, but learn to actually read them and articulate them. Speech input compliments the widelyused touch interface on iOS devices. Intelligent voice recognition technology from Nuance enables the app to hear, correct, and track the word read by the child, automating the learning process and leveraging a very underutilized sensory input available on the iOS devices.

This app can be used without parental supervision, a child’s progress is tracked with an inbuilt reporting tool. Parents and Teachers can see the report and hear the incorrectly spoken word.

Speaktacular Sight Words features more than 700 commonly used words,  from the Dolch Sight Words list, Academic Vocabulary that meets the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and a Trouble Words List used by teachers in classrooms

  • Miko the monkey listens to what the child says and understands them, providing encouraging feedback
  • Ideal for classroom use, the app supports up to 30 user accounts. Progress for each child is tracked individually.
  • Parents and teachers can see the progress of each child or an entire classroom with an innovative word-tracking option that automatically flags words a child is struggling with. They can even listen to the word spoken incorrectly by a particular child.
  • For words read incorrectly, the educator can hear what the child said when they read the word aloud.  This allows parents and teachers to help the child review the troubled word and keep track of progress.  
  • Words to be read are displayed with the Dyslexia Font to make it easier for readers with Dyslexia
  • A Custom Word List feature let’s users create their own word list by choosing the words from all the available word lists.

With Speaktacular Sight Words Edu we have gone far beyond the traditional Flashcards creating an invaluable app for Parents, Teachers and Students.

Sprite Kids’ Speaktacular Sight Words application will forever change how teachers and students learn and practice the invaluable reading component of mastering sight words,” said Jayne Clare, special education professional and co-founder of Teachers with Apps. “Speaktacular Sight Words is engaging, informative, and, most importantly, useful for students and teachers.”

Speaktacular Sight Words is a universal App for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch, and is powered by the NDEV Mobile developer program from Nuance Communications, a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world.

The Speaktacular Sight Words App is available for $1.99 from the App Store on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at www.AppStore.com.

Mini Monet gets Editor’s Choice award from Children’s Technology Review

MiniMonet_CTRMini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids,  a creative app for kids aged 6 to 8 years, won yet another award. After winning a Parents Choice Award, a Teachers With Apps certified award and being featured by Apple in the App Store it has now been honored with the 2014 Editor’s Choice Award from Children’s Technology Review (CTR).

CTR has been serving parents and teachers since 1993 with just one goal: “to provide complete and objective reviews of children’s interactive media products.” It is a monthly newsletter — modeled in the spirit of Consumer Reports with no advertising — designed to summarize the latest products and trends in children’s interactive media.

CTR’s Editor’s Choice Awards are given to only the highest quality children’s products in the interactive media category. These are “no fail” products, worthy of their cost, and able to keep children engaged for days at a time. 

We are very happy to receive this award for Mini Monet. Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids is a universal app for iPhone, iPod and iPad and is available for download on the Apple App Store. 

Mini Monet wins Parents’ Choice Award

We are very happy to announce that Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids won a Parents’ Choice Approved Award.

MiniMonetParentsChoiceApproved

The Parents’ Choice Awards committees look for products that entertain and teach with flair, stimulate imagination and inspire creativity. Judges are interested in how a product helps a child grow: socially, intellectually, emotionally, ethically, physically.

The team at Sprite Kids is honored with this award for Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids, our first app and continues on it’s mission to  inspire creativity in Kids.

Mini Monet is now a  universal app available both on the iPhone and iPad.

Pizo Animals – beauty in simplicity

“Keep it Simple” – one of the mantras we develop by at Sprite Kids. There is true beauty in simplicity, one does not need to inundate the user in a sea of UI elements, just give them what they need. In developing an app for children aged 5 and under, it is even more important to keep it simple for them, allowing them to focus on their activity – which in the case of Pizo is solving animal shaped jigsaw puzzles. 

When a child is putting together a jigsaw puzzle they have to remember a lot of details, they need to remember the colors and shapes in the puzzles in order to put them together. When done regularly, this enhances short term memory, improves focus, cognition and exercises the brain. 

Pizo Animals is based on the principals of simplicity, engaging characters and smooth user interactions. The result is an app that kids love playing with, this we say based on our play testing with kids. The image below captured an experience of a child with special needs who was using both his hands to put the puzzles in place, it gave us great pleasure to see the app incite such dexterity in a 5 year old. 

Pizo Animals

 

The beautiful jungle scenery in the app, interactive engaging animal shaped jigsaw puzzles make this a simple immersive brain building application for the children. 

It was featured by Apple in the App Store on the main page “Kids Apps and Games” list, a coveted spot on the main page for kids apps, we were very excited and glad to get this recognition for the app.  It was also featured in the “Best New Apps and Games” for Kids and Kids aged 5 and under. 

Pizo Animals

Pizo Animals

Pizo Animals is the first app in the Pizo series, stay tuned on our blog as we create more apps in this series and update the existing ones to make them even better, creating immersive learning environments for kids.

 

 

Let’s get creative!

The kids come back from their lunch recess and settle down at their desks. It’s art time, they get 30 minutes to think, draw and color. The class teacher asks them to draw a favorite memory from their Summer vacation. The kids are ready with their pencils while the papers are handed out. Some kids start drawing immediately, one child draws a cruise ship with a setting sun in the backdrop (wow!). Another starts with drawing Lego characters. There is a child staring at her paper, being the parent volunteer helping with the session, I ask her why she is not drawing anything. She says “I don’t know what to draw”.

When asked if she has a favorite memory, her eyes light up and she says “Yes, I do,  Six Flags Water Park with my parents” then she frowns, “but I don’t know what to draw”. So I tell her to draw some slides and people enjoying the rides and move on to the next table. It’s the last ten minutes of the session and I see that she still has not drawn anything, so I sit with her and draw a slide and then with dotted lines draw a few more elements for her to complete and continue with my work. At the end of the session I am amazed to see that she has not only finished the few elements I added in the scene, but there are so many creative new additions to make it a Water Park bustling with people!

A true learning experience for me – a little guidance can spark creativity in Kids, sometimes they just need to know how to start and given the right start what they can create is ingenious!

My experience in the classroom with the 1st and 2nd graders, love for art and the potential of the existing smart devices in influencing the lives of little children is what led to the development of the Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club for Kids iPad App.

Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids

More details on how Mini Monet sparks creativity can be found here.

Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club: A Safe Creative Playground for Kids

Children love to draw, their exploration and expression of art starts with a scribble, followed by lines and curves, stick figures and scenes.  Making Art gives them a medium to express their thoughts and emotions, helps them learn how to stay focussed on a single activity and stimulates their right brain. At Sprite Kids we want to encourage and empower children to be creative. Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids, gives children a creative environment to express their art and  pushes the boundaries even further by providing them a platform to: participate in challenges that spark creativity, share their art work in an art club, where other kids can appreciate their work and learn by observation.

Mini Monet is safe creative playground for kids. Children participate in Weekly Challenges and can share their mini master pieces in the Mini Monet Art Club. Designed & developed for kids, the “Magic Pencil” in Mini Monet prevents color from spilling outside the lines in hand drawn areas, making it easier for them to color in between the lines, enhancing the fun and helping them create beautiful art. Here is a video of an impromptu creative testing session with a 5 year old user, she was so excited when she could color neatly inside the lines: Mini Monet Creative Testing – Little Girl happy that she could color neatly.

Mini Monet Challenges are created for the kids and have a little something for every child, for the younger kids there are creative elements in the drawing to color and additional elements which can be traced and added to the challenge. For the older kids they can tap their own creativity to complete the challenge. Challenge themed stickers  are downloaded with each new challenge, these instill further creativity. The challenges provide endless creativity for the children, there is a new challenge every week!

Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids  Mini Monet Creative Challenge

“Is it a safe environment for my kids?”, asked some of our Parent testers. “Yes, it is” is our response. Children’s privacy is very important to Sprite Kids and strict privacy control is ingrained in the app, from the day of inception. Children’s Online Privacy has been a priority since day one of design and development on this app.  The app does not share the child’s identity online, children cannot communicate with each other – the app does not allow texting or commenting on art work. Sometimes we see children’s art posted in public libraries ( posted by local art schools)  or  published in popular kids magazines, which disclose information such as name, age and location of the child. Mini Monet takes children’s privacy a step further and displays only the child’s artwork. The child’s identity is protected in every way possible, children cannot form a network here, they cannot follow other kids. What they see and share is their Art. Our team is vigilant and filters out inappropriate art work.  The image below shows what the Art Club looks like in the App, it can only inspire creativity.

Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club for Kids

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center has researched several existing Social Networking Forums in their insightful and informative publication “Kids Online: A new research agenda for social networking forums” http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jgcc_kidsonline.pdf it mentions that  “Emerging Social Network Forums that sponsor sharing creative designs may provide unique opportunities for children to develop (these kind of)  new social literacies and skills”.  This research also defines a new classification system for examining  social network forums and their features related to the forms of communication they enable, the personal profile they allow users to create, the networking residues they encourage, and the hierarchies of access they afford. This classification is effective in showing the capabilities and limitations of these networks. Classifying Mini Monet along the lines of this research would look something like this :

Mini Monet Creative Studio and Art Club Classification

Mini Monet is a safe environment for children to create, share and learn art.

The app makes it fun for users to engage in creative drawing. Children earn coins as they use the app and appreciate the work of others, these can be used to earn creative elements from the Art Store in the app. Children have state of the art drawing tools for capturing their ideas. For the younger artists there are innumerable pages to color, when they color a little view on the top left shows how other kids have colored the same page, what a fun way to learn from the work of others!

Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club fo Kids

For the creative ones there are blank pages to capture their creativity. The symmetry pages reinforce the concept of symmetry :

Mini Monet Creative Studio  & Art Club for Kids Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club for Kids

Mini Monet Symmetry Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club for Kids

We want to provide budding little artists with endless creativity with Mini Monet.

Mini Monet Creative Studio & Art Club for Kid was featured in the Best for ages 6-8 category in the iTunes App Store in UK when it was released. It is available for the iPad in the iTunes App Store : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mini-monet-creative-studio/id767561903?mt=8

Read . Think . Create with Sprite Kids

Sprite Kids ( Read Think Create )

To be able to run you need to learn how to walk first. If there were three skills that were foundational in a child’s ability to tackle complex subjects in the future, they would be the ability to Read. Think. Create. These skills are not independent of  each other but are very much woven together, one leads to another.

At Sprite Kids we want to empower children with these basic skills. The children of today are growing up with smart devices, which are literally the first teachers for these young minds. The applications a child uses on these devices shapes their mind, we want to create learning environments  that enrich their minds, challenge their intelligence and spark their creativity.

The children of today are the future of tomorrow, we want to contribute towards a better future.