Little Red Languages Ltd presents The Gingerbread Man in a beautifully illustrated interactive book. Designed to enrich a child’s primary language through the use of favorite classic tales, this app not only delivers, but comes with an extensive link to resources for both maximizing the use of the app in the classroom and also has ideas and activities for off screen play on their website. Some of the activities available are printable books, masks, and puppet templates. For teachers there are image banks for vocabulary review or posting, lesson plans, and Flash and Smart Notebook versions of the story are available. The banked images consist of over 100 pictures from the story. It includes backgrounds, characters, objects, and places so that you can use them in a way that can help a child organize the information.
Little Red Languages, through the use of their apps and off screen activities, help children learn the nuances and context for how language is used through their “Thinking Skills” approach. By emotionally engaging them in the story, children have an investment and then begin to intuitively analyze patterns and make connections with language and its use. This in turn facilitates not only their imaginations but also helps commit the material to memory. Exercises in acting out the story by cutting out masks or puppets helps to further make it stick by giving purpose and meaning when retelling the story with the props.
Follow the tale of a little Gingerbread Man as he escapes from being eaten once out of the little old woman’s oven. This edition of The Gingerbread Man is just ripe for teaching kids about the daily routines of country life and the animals one may encounter. The story is rich in detail with vocabulary concerning daily routines, spatial orientation, and action words. People, animals on a farm, and classic symbolic icons – like encountering a crafty fox are also tucked in nicely. The illustrations are well done as is the narration. The visual and auditory presentation was simply rendered with perfect pacing to improve processing, and there is enough repetition in the story for the kids to shout along once they begin to recognize the patterns. (Most of the kids I see love to shout!)
The interaction is limited to a “seek and find” little mouse; perfect for being able to hold the sequence of the story and not lose the flow through unnecessary tapping. Finding the mouse does not even need to be introduced initially, but may add something new in its retelling to help keep kids alert and interested. What I was most impressed with however, were the easy to navigate and kid friendly control buttons that were so adorably done with the little Gingerbread Man. There was of course a back and a forward button, a pause, reread the page, and a button to remove the text. I am really beginning to appreciate the ability to remove the text in beginning books as it helps train kids to synch their eyes and ears on the story itself. I think that this helps set the stage for not only tuning into the spoken word or teacher’s voice (if you were to mute the sound and use your voice), but helps build attention to verbal direction and sequence too. It also lends itself to asking what kids think will happen or to give them a chance to “read” a portion of the story.
After reading the story to my under 3 kids, we played Gingerbread Man – complete with a run and chase portion, and acted out the action verbs and spatial orientation words. It would be fun to make and play in gingerbread play dough or hide a little Gingerbread Man in a sensory bin filled with replicas of the main characters. Dressing up as any of the characters (I will be the one in the back, dressed as Nana, baking it up) to teach daily routines, using the photo bank pictures as a “seek and find” game, or using the masks would be a blast for free play.
The book is available in French, Spanish and English (each sold separately) and each has all the accompanied resources on the Little Red Languages Website in their respective language – ideal for children starting to learn a new language. I would love to see if there was any way to combine the language options so that the French, Spanish and English versions were a settings option rather than a separate app. The Gingerbread Man is available through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program. This is value priced for school districts so that all institutions will receive a 50% discount when purchasing in quantities of 20.
I would heartily recommend this app, for its beautiful simplicity, well thought out design, and ease of use. Although intended for language development, it lends itself as a precursor to exploring elements of the story through sensory play, as a facilitator for movement play, and to be included in a reading nook for kids to reconnect to the story independently.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.