Learning Circle Kids LLC’s Reader Bee’s First Story Maker builds upon the foundation created with Reader Bee and the Story Tree (reviewed here) and expands it by encouraging children to write words, sentences, and stories independently. By using the honeycomb keyboard, (Installation of the keyboard can be found in the general settings menu), students not only see an illustration depicting the letter phoneme, but are also introduced to the basic universal symbols for keyboarding, i.e. return, space bar, and backspace. You can also modify the look of the keyboard to all capital letters or remove the illustrations to increase the demands for letter recognition and recall. Once again, Learning Circle Kids LLC’s focus is on the benefit of teaching children and has priced this app ($0.99 at the time of this review) to be well within the budget constraints of schools, clinicians and parents.
When writing, words are magically transformed from the illustrated keyboard or scroll menu on the top of the page – from a picture to a word and back to a picture with a tap of the finger creating a world of language to be discovered. When selecting pictures from the scroll bar on top, they can be left as a picture adding a certain artistic pizzazz to the story or spelled out with a tap. By typing in a word using the illustrated keyboards, kids can sound out words that they want in the story. Fan, Umbrella, Nut can then be transformed into FUN.
Whether children are writing a story or just exploring making words, it is important to be nearby, but not so close that we inhibit their own natural curiosity and ability to experiment and play with words. Sometimes we rush in to prompt a child when if we had just waited 10 more seconds…they would have gotten it on their own. Let them find out that no one can read the random letters of “panrpadfhja0v”, but be sure to check out what that was supposed to mean and help them rephrase it. We all learn by our mistakes, but if they aren’t viewed as such…and viewed as a stepping stone to the next level, true learning has taken place. Being a helper, I tend to prompt too soon, and then direct the story the way I would have wanted it to go. It really takes that just right level of encouraging and waiting for a child to respond that teachers naturally have in their toolboxes.
Additional features to save to your camera roll for future printing or having Mom or Dad email it to grandma are available and round out this app in a grand way. Learning Circle Kids LLC has their finger on the pulse of the future with the Reader Bee Apps, and their novel approach in teaching both reading and writing will benefit both visual and auditory learners. Kids that have difficulty with motor planning will benefit from interacting with the individual daisy chains through swiping letters, as there are not so many starts and stops when spelling out a word. This sets up reading and writing in one fluid motion that can then be scaffolded to expand by relying on prior experiences. This app and its companion are Highly Recommended for early learners, and kids just beginning to create stories. Both apps are reasonably priced, and pack a novel and forward thinking the approach to teaching reading to early learners in Reader Bee and the Story Tree, and writing to children who have accomplished basic proficiencies with the flow of language and sight word recognition.
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 every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.