When I first saw this program, the only thing I could think was, “ what a funny name!” And now that we have played Go Go Kabongo for the last several weeks, I still think it is a funny name, and a pretty funny program, but it has a very serious mission. Preparing kids for reading. I, however, was frankly skeptical. There were silly creatures everywhere, with funny faces and voices. The games seemed a little juvenile, at first. And I knew my kids didn’t get a lot of the jokes.
As we used the games more and I covertly observed the ‘fun’ from another room, I gained a new appreciation for them. There really is a lot of learning hiding under the goofy aliens and animals. Here is a link to what Go Go Kabongo is teaching through these games. Some of the thinking skills that I noticed right away include patterning, visual memory skills (essential for learning to read fluently), and comprehension during a progressively more difficult story. The website could be a bit confusing at first, so let me tell you a bit more about it.
There are three “habitats”, or worlds, in Go GO Kabongo- Laughter lake, Galaxy Gardens, and Twister Top. These three worlds show up on your child’s map when they sign into the site. Each world has three games in it, and each game has several
levels. The child doesn't notice the levels, the game just gets progressively harder. The program automatically sends periodic e-mails to the parent to let them know what games the child is and is not playing, what level they are on, and what skills they are developing. There are no ads or anything else in the child’s section of
the site, just the games. There are also no social-type activities, so it is completely safe. You can learn more about the individual games here.
So how did this work for us? CJ loves this program. I don’t think that there are any of the games that he dislikes, though some are easier then others for him. Bop is not so impressed, she says the games are too easy. I keep encouraging her to persevere, however, because I am pretty sure there will come a point where some of these games challenge her. There is really nothing she dislikes about it, I think she just finds it unchallenging at this point. I like the program for the most part, but there are several irritating parts. I don’t like the silly jokes. There isn’t anything wrong with them, I just find them annoyingly stupid. Some of the creatures look a little creepy to me, but the kids haven’t noticed.
All in all, Go Go Kabongo seems like a very useful program to develop skills that will be useful, not just for reading, but also for math and every part of life that requires critical thinking. The first habitat is free, so the best way to find out if it is right for your children is to have them try it! Let them spend some time playing Laughter Lake and see if you don’t agree with me- they are learning more then it seems! Right now you can also get the second habitat free, Galaxy Gardens. This seems to be a limited time offer, but there is no definite date for it. The last habitat, Twister Top, is only $4.95! This is not a subscription service, they compare it more to the price of an app. You pay them once, and you will have unlimited access to the games! These games are geared for children ages 4-7, and judging by my 4 and 6 year olds, I would say that seems right. There are also free activates and printable in the parents section.
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