iRead With: Caillou: What’s That Funny Noise? by Tribal Nova -Review
iRead With is a new educational app series from Canadian app developer Tribal Nova, developers of the iLearn with series of educational apps. The first 2 books in the series feature Caillou the popular children’s television character. The books are designed to be used by parents with their preschooler to help prepare them to learn to read. They were developed with McGill University’s Child Phonology Lab and uses the Dialogic Reading method. Simply put this method encourages parents to interact with children when reading to them- prompting them with questions , expanding on their responses, re-iterating important information and encouraging them to re-tell the story.
This review is of the first book in the series “Caillou: What’s That Funny Noise?” There are 3 options : “Listen”- where the story is professionally narrated, “Read and Talk” – where the caregiver narrates and is given suggested questions at 3 different levels, and “Theater” where the child can use scenes and characters to re-tell the story.
For those unfamiliar with Caillou, he is a bald-headed preschooler who lives with his parents and younger sister Rosie and the family cat Gilbert. Caillou is the star of a series of books by author Christine L’Heureux and illustrator Hélène Desputeaux. His adventures center around everyday experiences and involve his family and friends. Caillou’s adventures were made into an animated television series in Canada and this has been a long running preschool show on PBS. When my children were younger they children loved to watch Caillou and listen to his stories being read.
In “What’s That Funny Noise?” it’s bedtime for Caillou, but he is having a hard time getting to sleep. He hears a funny scratching noise and see shadows on his bed. Scared, he calls his mommy who reassures him and explains where the shadows are coming from. Caillou still can’t sleep and is frightened there may be a monster in his room. His daddy comes in next to reassure him and settle him in bed. Finally after several visits from mom and dad the identity of the “monster” is revealed and Caillou can relax and go to sleep.
Throughout the text are scattered “living words” these are bigger and in color to make them easily identifiable. If you press and hold the word you can record your child saying the word, and you will hear their recording whenever you touch that word in future. Touching living words triggers an animation related to the word, both in the picture and by the word itself. For instance touching”mommy” makes Caillou’s mommy kiss him, and hearts appear around her and the word mommy; whereas touching “shadows” makes shadows appear and disappear in the room and makes a shadow appear from the word shadows.
At the bottom of each page are a parent and a child icons, these can be customized in settings. Beside the parent icon suggestions appear for questions to ask the child, tapping the child icon shows hints on how to answer the question. There are 3 different reading levels for the story- the story is basically the same, but in level 1 there are less living words and fewer simpler questions. Level 2 adds more living words and more questions, in level 3 the questions become more complex and involve more story comprehension and the child no longer gets hints.
The app was originally released without narration, but this has now been added. I understand why it was released without narration as the dialogic reading method is designed to be a 2-way interaction between the child and caregiver, which can’t happen when they are just listening to the narration. Although it is nice to be able to also listen to the story independently, I would encourage parents to also take time to fully utilize the app’s features by reading the story to the child and asking questions and interacting with them. The professional narration is well-done, it does not have word highlighting as it is read, it would be nice to see this added in a future update.
In Theater mode the child can choose from a variety of backgrounds in and around Caillou’s home. As the child explores the story they can unlock puppets (people and objects) to use in the theater. Once they have chosen their actors and props the child can record their own short video- moving the puppets around the scene and recording their own dialog and sound effects. The videos are stored for future viewing. It would be nice to be able to give the videos a name so that if the child, or siblings, record more than one video with the same background it is easy to tell them apart.
Caillou stories are perfect for toddlers and pre-school aged children, they are bright and colorful, tell stories of everyday events the children can easily relate to, and are calm and gentle tales. Getting children actively engaged with books from an early age, and getting them thinking and talking about what has been read is very important. It helps them to develop a good vocabulary and lays a foundation for skills they will need in their school years. I think this series is a very useful reminder of the importance of making reading with your child a 2-way communication, and it actively encourages parents to interact with their children when reading. Many parents already do this, but for those who don’t, or who need some more practice in developing questions, it provides a useful framework for developing this skill. The “living words” are a nice feature too, as the interactivity associated with them - from recording the word, and the animations it triggers, help children to associate the written and spoken word with its meaning. I like the inclusion of the theater mode too as it encourages children to use their imagination and tell their own stories. Highly recommended for children aged 2-5 years.
Caillou: What's That Funny Noise? by i Read With
by Tribal Nova
Category: Books, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPadThirdGen4G, iPadThirdGen, iPadMini4G, iPad 2 WiFI, iPadFourthGen, iPadMini, iPad 2 3G, iPadFourthGen4G
Size: 50.27 MB
Caillou: Show and Tell by i Read With
by Tribal Nova
Category: Books, Education
Requirements: Compatible with iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G, iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini4G, iPad 2 3G, iPadMini, iPad 2 WiFI, iPadFourthGen
Size: 50.17 MB
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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.