Monday, April 4, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Go Go Kabongo

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Go Go Kabongo is an online learning environment that just launched in the fall of 2010. It was founded by a cognitive psychologist and team of game designers who wanted to help kids build the critical thinking skills to learn to read more effectively.  Their mission statement really says it all:

To challenge kids to become better thinkers, inspiring 
self-­confidence through the joy of play.

The graphic below helps to show exactly what the creators of Go Go Kabongo are trying to teach children through play. You can go here to read more about the various skills and what encompasses each of them.  

Learning Skills Chart

It is a fun, online world where kids can play challenging games, solve quests, create their own avatar (always a huge draw for my boys), make ready to read comic book pages, build their own custom skate park and try it out, and meet some fun and zany characters.


There are three habitats in Go Go Kabongo and each one covers various skills. Laughter Lake is free for anyone to play. The second two - Twister Top and Galaxy Garden - can be purchased for $4.95 each (an introductory price). They are sold in "app-style" so there is no need to renew - there is no subscription!

Click here and you can try out a demo of three of the games for free.

What I liked:

I had my two youngest boys try Go Go Kabongo. I set up J7 with access to all the worlds, but N9 just played the free game. I had actually only planned for J7 to try it, but when N9 saw his brother planning he wanted to know if he could try too. They both loved this game site and asked every single day to go play there. I actually had to start limiting their time here  until all their other school work was done!

I also really liked the progress reports I received in my inbox.

Hi There Lisa,
WOW! HappyJ is having a great time playing and learning on GoGo Kabongo. Here's a summary of what your child has been doing this week:

Your Child's Progress

Critter Sizer1Attention and Focus: Children must be able to focus on important clues and rule out distracting factors in order to become efficient readers.
Desert Dash1Working Memory: Children must be able to keep information in their short-term memories long enough to make sense of a word, sentence, or paragraph.
Photo Safari2Simultaneous processing: As readers advance, they move more quickly through words and passages, “reducing” and organizing the information to make sense of it faster. For example, they begin to recognize certain words as a whole instead of letter by letter.
Scuba Dude2Successive processing: To decode words effectively, beginning readers must remember letter sounds in order and assemble them into a whole.
Rocket Racer2Alphabet Knowledge: Being able to identify letters visually is a building block for pre-reading skills.
Robo Bobo4Spatial Awareness: Being able to visually determine the placement of objects in space helps readers begin to identify sight words and particular letter groups as representing certain sounds.

At the end of each email there were also practical (off-line) suggestions to continue learning.

Overall I thought the site was fun. While the voices of the characters were sometimes a bit annoying, I would just have the boys turn the volume down. That was my hang-up though - not theirs. And truly, does any parent enjoy listening to cartoon characters talk all the time? I didn't think so.

My boys had a great time playing at Go Go Kabongo and I loved knowing that it wasn't frivolous time spent. They were learning each and every time they were on there. I really liked that.

Be sure to head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what other Crew members had to say about this product.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review.  All opinions shared are my own. TOS Crew Members are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.

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