Many parents and teachers are constantly looking for new ways to get children excited about reading. And for good reason. Reading is a large part of receiving a strong foundation during the early years of a child’s education. In fact, studies have often shown when a young child is read to, it improves language skills, assists in literacy development, and has a great impact on the parts of a child’s brain that are fundamental early literacy development.
Parents and teachers today have many tools that help spark an early love and desire in children to read and learn. The Bluebee Pal is one of them, and it may remind some of a classic talking and plush toy that made its debut in the 1980s.
Our Bluebee Pal, better known to my preschoolers as Leo the Lion, is providing loads of educational fun, so much so that I doubt the kiddos realize they are learning as they are playing. Leo, and all Bluebee Pals, is a plush toy that syncs with Bluetooth® enabled devices. With its built-in speaker the Bluebee Pal reads to, sings with and engages children as they learn with their favorite apps, songs and videos. The pals also have moving mouths as they talk and sing. Typically toys like this can be a bit bulky or not as plush as they appear because of the battery pack and speaker inside the toy. The Bluebee Pal is extremely soft, lightweight and huggable, making it a great toy for kiddos of any age. These are just a few reasons why reading time is bit more exciting these days.
Play and Learn at Home
Whether it is to learn or to catch up on their favorite shows, my preschoolers enjoy having time on the computer and tablet. As a parent I am often concerned that the girls have spent too much time looking at screens, potentially causing damage to their vision. The Bluebee Pal has helped us to eliminate long periods of looking at a screen because the focus has turned to watching its mouth move and paying closer attention to the actual story or song. This guarantees a successful and quiet learning time.
Activity Suggestion for Parents: Storytime while traveling.
Take a Bluebee Pal on your next family trip. It can easily fit in a carryon or in a child’s backpack in the car. During road time or other quiet moments, your children can stay caught up on their daily reading in a way that doesn’t seem to take away from the fun being had on the trip.
Homeschoolers: Incorporate Apps into Lessons
Homeschoolers are no strangers to incorporating technology into lessons. Some days they are strategically fit into learning time. Other days technology allows us to quickly create a last minute lesson plan. Reading time, however, is rarely ever left out of the lesson plans. Having our pal, in addition to the iStoryTime App, makes reading time both educational and entertaining. The iStoryTime App is full of popular family-friendly movies and stories, like my kids’ favorite, Madagascar. Kids are able to see colorful scenes of the story on your device, as well as hear the story while it is “read” by the Bluebee Pal. Most stories in the app are not free, but the app offers a few free ones to begin.
The Bluebee Pal is also a great tool to use while introducing phonics to beginner readers. Words on a page may be intimidating for some, so incorporating videos from your favorite educational channels like these can assist in boosting a child’s confidence as well as introduce the necessary skills to begin reading. Kids can enjoy story time without a parent’s help, which is great for the little ones who can’t quite read and great for parents who need to buy a few moments to prepare for the next activity.
Activity Suggestion for Homeschoolers: Encourage activeness by listening to music and dancing with the Bluebee Pal.
Kids (and parents alike) need a time during the day to step away from the learning. Turning on music and encouraging dancing and movement is exactly what is needed to get re-energized, or in some cases, burn some energy to continue the time of productive learning. The Bluebee Pal has a quality speaker, and its volume is easily controlled by the device.
Using videos to dig a little deeper into topics is typical for homeschoolers, and it is no different for the classroom. I am visual learner, so I tend to teach my children with many visual examples. Once a week I teach a co-op class, and this past session I taught basic science concepts to 29 four and five-year-olds. During our weather week, I introduced the concept of seasons with a video and a song with the help of our Bluebee Pal.
Teachers of children of that age group know how challenging it can be to keep the kiddos quiet for long periods of time. However, the second I introduced Leo to both classes all were quiet, and their eyes were fixated on him. The class assistants could not believe their eyes. Every student was completely captivated, including those who are normally rambunctious.
Activity Suggestion for Teachers: Give students a chance to earn a reward of holding the Bluebee Pal.
Students will quickly become attached to the new classroom pal, so offer the privilege of holding the Bluebee Pal during reading time as a reward for good behavior throughout the day.
Learning with Leo has been both enjoyable and beneficial for my children and students. Check out more about the Bluebee Pal here and see which pal your child would most love!
Find your little reader’s favorite Bluebee Pal
Bluebee Pals are a plush talking educational learning tool that sings, reads and answers phone calls. The innovative technology includes lip synchronization that allows the animal’s “mouth” to move while you’re reading storybooks, engaging in learning apps or singing songs. Children can entertain family and friends when using Bluebee Pals as a wireless speaker phone.
Teri Watters is a new homeschooler who enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. She’s also the creator of MommyWifeLife.com, where she regularly blogs about ways to keep the family connected through education, activities and new products.