“I am a special needs teacher and work with a population of middle school age children with moderate to severe special needs. In this video, Sally is an eighth-grade student with Autism who is in our Critical Life Skills Program. Critical Life Skills include adapted academics, toileting, feeding, mobility, communication, dressing, self-help, and social/emotional achievement and functioning. As a special needs teacher, I am always searching for new ways to reach my students and keep their attention. Bluebee Pals are an amazing educational tool to encourage reading and literacy. Whether the Bluebee is narrating a story or identifying a word for the student to locate on an Ipad/touch screen.” –Cheryl Stark-Special Needs Teacher ……….https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
Sally is listening to the Raz A-Z Reading Program read to her from Bluebee Pal Parker the Monkey. She then taps on the self-read function after he reads to her and states, now she is reading to her Bluebee Monkey. Bluebee Pals are powerful assistive technology tools for many special needs children as they engage in learning and communication by connecting to any app with a narrative including the Bluebee Pal App. In addition, they provide companionship as a learning buddy who is soft, cuddly and non-judgmental. It’s an opportunity for children to interact with a humanoid companion outside the daily routine of staring into the screen on a iPad or laptop.https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-app/
Raz-Kids is an online reading program that helps students hone comprehension skills in class, at home, or on the go. Students can read and listen to eBooks at 29 different reading levels, use eTools for active reading, and take quizzes while teachers and parents monitor student reading activity and quiz reports. The Kids A-Z mobile app delivers interactive learning content for Raz-Plus, Raz-Kids, Headsprout, and Science A-Z anytime, anywhere. Kids can choose from a library of eBooks, eQuizzes, and other eResources. With the Kids A-Z app, personalized learning goes wherever the student does! https://apps.apple.com/us/app/kids-a-z/id474207297
Bluebee Pals are extremely versatile and effective educational assistive technology tools that can be utilized to support individualized instruction in virtually any subject area! They make great teacher’s assistants and promote active and engaged learning. They can be used one-on- one or in a small group setting. In addition to being used with any apps containing a narrative, they can also be used with voice recording and text-to-speech apps and tailored to meet specific student or classroom educational needs.
Voice Recording Apps:
Students can’t get enough of hearing their own (and their teacher’s) recorded voices and this is an instant attention getter! These apps allow you to record, save, and immediately playback your own recordings in your own (or a student’s) voice. Bluebee can playback adult voice recordings of a favorite book, story, or song in a child’s own regional dialect, or recordings produced by a child. Bluebee can “speak” in a student’s voice to give the student auditory feedback on how he/she sounds.
Voice Memos by Apple. Quickly and easily record vocabulary words for Bluebee to say and for students to practice repeating. Let your students record their words, sentences, or stories, too! Matching game: Record nouns for Bluebee and give students picture or word flashcards to choose the correct match for the word that was said. Use the recorder app to have Bluebee give instructions or ask questions. Use the recorder to have students sequence events, answer questions, or retell a story. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/voice-memos/id1069512134
My Story School eBook Maker by MY STORY, LLC. Create and share ebooks and movies using your own voice, drawings, stickers, and photos! https://apps.apple.com/us/app/my-story- school-ebook-maker/id449232368
Book Creator for iPad by Red Jumper Limited. Easily create your own books! Add music, narration, video, text! Share with family and friends. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070
Little Bird Tales Storytelling by Mike Klem. Create your own unique stories, podcasts, presentations and journals. Students can download lessons from their teacher and send them back when completed. There is an art pad for illustrations, and it records in your own voice and adds text to each page. Great for custom lessons, Common Core aligned lessons, writing assignments, book reports, poetry, journals, and more. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/little- bird-tales-storytelling/id517996494
Articulation Station Pro by Little Bee Speech is an example of an app for articulation (sound production) remediation that records student responses for auditory feedback and practice. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/articulation-station-pro/id491998279
***In addition to these, many storybook, articulation, language development and educational apps contain a recording feature. Be on the lookout for it!
These apps let your students interact in real time with your Bluebee Pal as you type in text for your Bluebee to speak! They offer so much versatility and control of your lessons as Bluebee Pals “speak” to your students as you are working with them. You can program your Bluebee Pal to say anything you want him to say as you type in the text. Ask and answer questions or carry-on a real life conversation! Make up your own stories or type in the text of books for your Bluebee Pal to read. Book discussions: Have Bluebee read a book out loud. Then, type in questions for Bluebee to ask the students. Have Bluebee help practice vocabulary and comprehension skills by typing in words or definitions, questions, or even tests for him to say aloud. With Bluebee Pals and Text-to-Speech apps, students can quickly and easily work on syntax, semantics, pragmatics, social skills, math, language, social studies, science, and other curriculum skills….anything you want!
Talk For Me – Text to Speech by Darrin Altman https://apps.apple.com/us/app/talk-for-me-text-to-speech/id975096888
Text to Speech (TTS) https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech-tts/id1183892228 Text to Speech! https://apps.apple.com/us/app/text-to-speech/id712104788 iSpeech Text to Speech https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ispeak-text-to-speech/id1101193022
Speak4Me-Text to Speech https://apps.apple.com/us/app/speak4me-text-to- speech/id894460403
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.
6 Top Reading Apps for Home or School
1. HOOPLA Book Riot has recommended this for downloading audiobooks straight from local libraries. It also has an extensive children’s audiobook section, which will make for good bedtime reading or car listening.
2. EPIC! Epic provides a plethora of children’s books for all ages. The app asks for parents or teachers to create an account, and allows for them to create four profiles for children readers. You do need to register an email and a password. The visuals and music contribute to a fun learning experience.
3. SIGHT WORDS App Store reviews from parents have expressed satisfaction with this app game that encourages reading and makes it fun for kids. It’s for ages 4 and up, with detailed animation, background music, and great visuals. There are six games at the moment, tailored by grade. Kids can create their own profile, as either people or monsters.
4. ENDLESS READER This is meant for younger readers, ages 4 and up, to teach them words by sight. It’s designed to grab attention, with fluid animation and epic music. Digital flash cards occupy the screen, with fitting animation. Kids have to assemble the words, or match them, while the game provides appropriate sound effects.
5. READING COMPREHENSION The paid version of the Peakaboo apps, there are versions for various reading levels, grades 2–8. The various bundles range from $7.99–9.99 and individual apps cost $1.99. These promise to educate children, while provoking thought with their questions about the material.
6.TEACHME This reading app comes for multiple grade levels, including Preschool, Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade. All five apps cost $7.99 as a bundle, and the individual ones are $1.99 if a parent wishes to buy them separately.
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 variety of educational and reading apps, makes reading time both educational and entertaining.
For example, The Epic App allows parents and children to choose from more than 35,000 books, and they can read them online or offline, on the Web, or on mobile devices. Many selections are by well-known authors or from major publishers, and the collection includes Spanish/English, Chinese/English, and French/English bilingual books. 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 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.
Use in The Classroom
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 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!
Teri Watters is a married stay-at-home mom who regularly blogs at MommyWifeLife.com. She believes in keeping family at the center and is enjoying her new role as a homeschooling momma. Her ideal perfect day ends with her feet up, a big bowl of stove-popped popcorn, and a tall glass of ice water with lemon.
The Bluebee Pal Pilot collaboration between New York City Schools boroughs are demonstrating to be a great success! Testimonials from early childhood teachers and speech therapists acknowledge the integration of Bluebee Pal as a valuable educational tool to motivate students in learning. Bluebee Pals assistive technology tools are incorporated into classrooms to support teachers in engaging literacy and communication through lesson plans, social/emotional and life skills. The Bluebee Pal Program highlights a robotic stuffed animal that connects to IOS and Android devices and speaks through all apps with a narrative, in addition to its the Bluebee Pal App. In 2020, Kayle Concepts brand owner introduced Bluebee Pal Lesson Plans, Book and Activity guide for early childhood educators.https://www.bluebeepals.com
P17X@385 BLUEBEE PALS PROMOTE LEARNING
Amanda Acosta, K-2 TeacheR, Bronx
Bluebee Pal is a fun way to encourage my students to participate during ElA. As a class although on the box the name is Parker, the students voted on naming the monkey momo. During read aloud they are engaged with momo and are fascinated that a stuffed animal is reading directly to them. When it comes to questioning they will answer the question that is asked and will give momo a high five for participating. Overall they have really enjoyed Fundations with this device it has promoted their encouragement to not only engage but to sit and attain what is being said by the device. In addition to this during centers, there is an independent center where students have an opportunity to work with momo with their letters which they love to do. They have incorporated momo into their routines once they unpack they ask where momo is.
Rachel Callahan, K-2 Teacher, Bronx
My students love using the Bluebee Pal. They were intrigued by the lion and would repeat letter sounds that Bluebee Pal said as we were able to record. They also like stories and games. Students who do not demonstrate strong, functional, speech are more likely to participate from using the Bluebee Pal.
P77K@178 INTRODUCING BLUEBEE PALS INTO SPEECH THERAPY
Vaishalie Ramsumair, M.A. CF-SLP, TSSLD, Brooklyn
I have now begun to integrate Bluebee Pal “Lily the Lamb” and the Bluebee Pal app into my therapy sessions. Upon being introduced to the Bluebee Pal, my nonverbal and minimally verbal students’ eyes immediately light up. My students have been highly motivated by the “daily activity” feature, where they are given the autonomy to select an activity based on the rooms in the Bluebee Pal house.
The Bluebee Pal has helped one of my students in particular to generalize her ability to request via static display speech-generating device (GoTalk9+). While lunchtime has historically been the sole motivating activity for this student, she demonstrated the ability today to request Lily the Lamb within a structured play context using her GoTalk 9+. I will definitely continue to use Bluebee Pal Lily and Bluebee Pal app in future therapy sessions.https://apps.apple.com/us/app/bluebee-pals/id1331972815
In August of 2019, the University of Central Flori at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida began their journey as a Bluebee Pals Project site. The PedsAcademy provides hospital-based school programming to children who are fighting for their health. This educational program brings educators into the hospital setting allowing the patients to focus on being students again. They participate in research-backed educational opportunities through the use of technology including the Bluebee Pals.
Rebeca Grysko, Associate Director of Teacher Education and Post-Doctoral Scholar at UCF’s PedsAcademy, shared that the Bluebee Pals were a “great success” during read aloud activities with patients and families.
Student teaching interns have been using the Bluebee Pals to teach vocabulary and increase reading skills. In addition, the Bluebee Pals have helped to engage, comfort, incentivize and entertain the students during lessons. These plush educational tech tools act as reading buddies for PedsAcademy students that need extra support such as those with learning disabilities or second-language learners.
Bluebee Pals have “made so many of the lessons 10x better!” shared a teaching intern. One very special participant was a 23-month-old patient who engaged with Bluebee Pals while reading stories, singing nursery rhymes and following simple directions.
What a joy it is to see the positive impact of Bluebee Pals at the PedsAcademy! We are honored to be part of their amazing program that helps ensure academic access to their patients!
Punam Desormes, M.A., CCC-SLP, ATP
Faculty Clinical Instructor School of Communication Sciences and Disorders University of Central Florida
PS K771 is a safe and orderly school in Brooklyn, New York where teachers agree the principal is a trustworthy and effective leader, surveys report. The school, which serves over 400 1st- 12th graders, is located in nine sites throughout Brooklyn. The student body mainly consists of learners with autism, emotional disturbances, multiple handicaps or intellectual disabilities.
The school is a part of a special pilot program where Bluebee Pals are donated to specific schools in exchange for provider feedback. Laura Jiencke, founder of Bluebee pals created the program to include free professional development for teachers and therapists to kick start the program. Many principals expediated the Bluebee Pal Pilot Progam and provided photos, videos, and testimonials within weeks of implementing the program. The positive testimonials and principal support resulted in a successful collaboration between the New York City Schools and Kayle Concepts owner of the Bluebee Pal brand.
“As promised with our Bluebee Pal Pilot Program, I wanted to share our feedback from our ENL Teacher and Speech Therapist.We are also buying more Bluebee Pals.” Vinnette Ferrandino, Principal, I.A.P771K
The training was great. The videos provided a demonstration of the actual usage of Bluebee Pals and how other teachers incorporate them into their lesson plans.
I use Bluebee during push in sessions and reading time. I tend to prefer functional communication so to me it’s a great engagement tool that catches the student’s attention and is fun. They attend to it.
I think every 12:1:4 classroom and 6:1:1 classroom can benefit from using Bluebee Pals
Bluebee Pals Engaging Learning- ENL Teacher
The training provided valuable overview of the Bluebee Pal, the capabilities, and possible classroom use. The opportunity to view the videos of classes with Bluebee Pals and feedback from the teachers was very helpful and inspiring. In addition, the summary of the resources available on the website can be very useful to supplement the classroom activities.
I use the Bluebee Pal in my small groups sessions. It has proven to be a valuable tool for increasing students engagement, creating more entry points for curriculum and increasing the comfort level of the multilingual students. I have noticed that given an opportunity for a student to hear texts or stories in native language decreases the stress level and promotes a positive attitude towards the school setting.
Bluebee pal provides an incredibly powerful engagement option for younger students and early learners. In addition, I can see the possibilities to increase student’s independence/choice making by giving them an option to use the Pal during DEAR time but that would require multiple pals for the class.
We will be looking to purchase additional Bluebee Pals shortly.