Every so often a great Kickstarter campaign comes our way. For those of you that are not familiar with it, Kickstarter is a platform for funding creative projects. Developers put their ideas on Kickstarter and they have a set amount of time to reach their fundraising goal. If the project doesn’t reach the set amount it doesn’t get funded. The website is a collection of diverse and creative ideas.
A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the developers of WEBEE who sent me a prototype keyboard to try with my kids. WEBEE is a child-friendly, durable keyboard that can be plugged into any computer or laptop with a USB connection. Once connected, parents can access a large selection of educational games through the website, www.webee-world.com. WEBEE is a completely interactive experience that allows parents to track scores and monitor their child’s development. More than just another keyboard with software, WEBEE really feels like a complete platform with dozens of games and uses available. Currently in the midst of a 40 day Kickstarter campaign, WEBEE hopes to raise $100,00 by October 10 to develop the platform.
I love the durability of WEBEE. WEBEE is intended for the youngest children, ages 1 – 5. This is the age where kids really want to use their parent’s iPads or other devices, but are not yet old enough to be trusted to care for the devices properly. And, let’s not forget about little fingers constantly exiting out of games, over and over and over. My iPhone used to have a folder labeled “games”. It currently says “hush duh” because my two year old managed to tap enough times to change the label. WEBEE is used in place of your computers keyboard and mouse. It has four large buttons, blue, yellow, red and green and children are told how to access other games using only these keys. By allowing the entire WEBEE web platform to be accessed via the keyboard, you are able to remove your mouse and regular qwerty keyboard and know that your children will not be able to access any other website or computer program.
I struggle with finding a balance between letting my kids watch TV and use electronics versus getting outside and playing. In general, I think I do a pretty good job, however, there are times when dinner really needs to get made, or something needs to get cleaned, and I need my toddlers occupied for 30 minutes or so. My older ones can read and play games on their own but my youngest cannot be left by himself for extended periods. He needs supervision and more often than not if I am in a rush for time, I will stick him in the playpen in the kitchen while I cook and he watches a show.
This is exactly what the developers of WEBEE, Rachel and Danny Van Buren, were thinking of when they developed the concept. Rather than putting your young one in front of a show where they are passively watching, they developed a concept that allows young ones to play independently and learn language and communication skills. My two year old was able to see a picture of a blue ball and press the big blue key on the keyboard, or a yellow flower and press the yellow button! WEBEE allows you to let your children play and learn without worrying about your device crashing to the ground.
The WEBEE keyboard is portable and able to plug into any computer with a USB connector. As long as you can access the internet, you always have dozens of games available. These games are designed to help you children learn and grow. In addition to the existing content that I tested, they are also developing a Software Development Kit (SDK) to allow other people to create additional content for the website and an Educator Development Kit (EDK) which will allow parents and educators to design and create offline educational exercises and worksheets based on the existing games.
WEBEE’s games revolve around a little bee who guides children through the games that focus on early developmental skills. I love the idea of knowing that if I need to focus on something else, my little one can be safely occupied practicing their colors, letters or matching skills or other child focused experience. Take a look at WEBEE on kickstarter – this is more than just an app or product but an entire portable learning and playing platform for our youngest children.
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