This is a sponsored post
While summer is supposed to be a carefree time of camp, pool, and fun, it’s also a critical time for learning. We’re all aware of summer brain drain, the dreaded effect of our kids not using knowledge gained during the year but trying to balance summer activities with learning can be a challenge. Especially if we’re trying to limit screen time. But not all screen time is bad, especially when kids are engaging in educational content that reinforces and teaches key concepts in an interactive way at no cost to you.
UMIGO is like a unicorn in the online world of educational content for kids. This free platform is funded in part by a U.S. Department of Education Ready to Learn grant, aligned with the Common Core Standards for Mathematics for first and second grades, and provides kid-powered transmedia experiences that are designed to engage children in the exploration of mathematical ideas.
The vibrant world of UMIGO is full of adventures that incorporate several different kinds of media platforms (hence- transmedia!) to engage early elementary age kids in narrative-driven “appisodes” that teach building blocks of math through kid-powered learning. UMIGO stands for “you make it go” and is designed for children in grades 1-2. The platform helps kids develop the math skills they need for effective reasoning and problem solving through appisodes that feature videos, games, and music.
Each appisode includes:
- The Animated Story- Video-based comedy adventure stories that feature three main characters who teach a concept through themes like pirates, mummies, spies, and other gender-neutral stories that boys and girls alike will gravitate to
- The End Game— Games with differentiated learning levels to meet the needs of each child
- The Music Video— Designed to help reinforce concepts through song
While videos, games, and music may seem sound overstimulating for early elementary ages, I know from my time in the classroom that diverse learning experiences ensure that key concepts are learned and retained. UMIGO was developed out of research about how kids learn from media and when there are different kinds of media in the mix, children learn better.
Learning with UMIGO
UMIGO is designed to give kids opportunities outside of school for hands-on time with math concepts and ideas that are fun, interesting, and exciting and start with a video or appisode. The appisode is the first thing that kids see when they go to UMIGO. Appisodes are appropriate for all so everyone can feel successful when first sitting down to UMIGO.
Learning Through UMIGO Appisodes
Through appisodes like this one called Who Stinks Greater (designed to teach greater than, less than) kids learn about specific math concepts through cartoon-like characters who are placed in a scenario that ties in the math concept. When I reviewed UMIGO, it took me about 30 minutes to watch the Who Stinks Later appisode and complete the math problems. Note: I did pause the appisode to take screenshots throughout but 30 minutes is probably the average amount of time it would take a child to watch, depending on their level of proficiency with the concept.
In the Who Stinks Greater episode, kids are presented with a competition between two characters where they have to engage in a math Olympics involving different greater than less than problems. In the first round of problems, picture cues along with the problems help kids better conceive which direction the greater than, less than sign should go.
Correct answers are subtly rewarded with audience applause and cheers that fit with the story’s theme of a competition and lights that light up around each character. The story narrator reads the correct number sentence. When a child answers incorrectly, UMIGO just says “oops” and explains which number is larger and provides an opportunity to try again by darkening the symbol that goes with the correct number sentence.
During the story’s second round, characters have to engage in a jumping competition where they have to jump higher than the presented pinky hurdles jumping over it to a higher one. The concepts are reinforced at the end of each round by showing the character’s scores with a number sentence and the announcer saying which one has the greater score.
The third round engages kids during the same competition but this time, they have to complete the number sentence presented to them by filling in a number that is greater than the one on the screen to make the character. The fourth round requires children to fill in a number sentence with a number less than the one on the screen.
The final fifth round mixes up greater than and less than problems to build upon the previous learning as kids fill in number sentences to make the characters jump in the competition.
Unlocking Music and Game Content
The appisodes represent the main way that kids learn through UMIGO. Watching the appisode unlocks additional content like the games (The End Game) or music video at the conclusion of the episode. UMIGO founders believe that the games and music video serve as the reward for doing the hard work in the appisode.
After watching the video, game play is differentiated according to a child’s skill with the concept. The site automatically adjusts according to feedback that kids provide through interaction. Games range from beginner ones to more challenge levels that feature a timer to provide an additional challenge to kids who feel confident in the concept. But if a timer makes your child anxious, UMIGO understands! Because timers can hinder a child’s confidence, UMIGO allows kids to turn off the timer during game play.
Finally, the music part of UMIGO allows for richer engagement. Through the audio stimulation that comes with song, children get a better grasp of strategies that provide for deeper learning.
What I Love About UMIGO
There are many things I love about UMIGO as a platform for the earliest elementary ages. The free site does a fantastic job of providing engaging, kid friendly content where concepts are presented in a concrete way that kids can really understand. Substantive concepts that are part of the Common Core curriculum are presented visually with lots of opportunity for learning and reinforcement that kids will find fun while parents will appreciate it for the educational value.
I also appreciate that UMIGO takes the time to do a lot of research about how kids will learn math concepts best. In a call with the founders I learned that UMIGO has done extensive research to ensure that their methods are appropriate for grades 1-2. Over the past three years, they’ve conducted over 50 studies with children. They begin developing appisodes by trying ideas out on paper to see what kids can and can’t do, what problems they’re having, and what learning they may already be proficient in. UMIGO uses the feedback to build the online games and provide kids with support if they don’t know the concepts to ensure a feeling of success.
UMIGO is a wonderfully engaging free website that kids will enjoy using this summer to prevent brain drain but it’s also a site that can be used by classroom teachers and parents to reinforce concepts at school and at home throughout the year.
This post is made possible by support from UMIGO. All opinions are my own. Images courtesy of UMIGO.