Well, surprise, boys! That's the way Go Go Kabongo works. It looks like a game, but it's actually teaching essential reading skills.
From the website: What does GO GO KABONGO! teach? Kabongo games do not teach with “right” and “wrong” answers. Instead, they guide children toward better thinking by using an exciting, engaging game design. Children use a wide variety of critical-thinking and problem-solving strategies to play and progress, including these skills that are essential for reading:
Successive processing: In order to decode words effectively, children have to remember the letter sounds in order and assemble them into a whole. The same is true with words and sentences.
Simultaneous 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, taking each one in as a whole instead of letter by letter. Or, they repeat back the essence of a paragraph, culling out the less important ideas and focusing on the most important concepts.
This chart explains best how each game focuses on specific skills:
Go Go Kabongo is separated into 3 different "habitats": Twister Top, Galaxy Garden and Laughter Lake. You can see that each habitat has three different activities and each activity focuses on different skills. I can tell you from experience with a 5 year old and a 7 year old, that neither of them ever thought they were learning anything, but I knew. Not just from the way that their honed skills came across in other learning that we're doing, but also from the progress reports Go Go Kabongo was sending me. I even knew when they weren't using the program, because I'd get a "we haven't seen Kaitlyn in a while" e-mail.
I really appreciated the updates. I also appreciated that it was more than just a quick "this is what Kaitlyn is doing." Each e-mail explained what each child had done, and what skills that activity was helping them with. It also suggested activities that I could do, outside of the computer games, to help enhance and reinforce those skills. I could also go online and view a more detailed progress report, using my parent account.
Go Go Kabongo is FREE for the first habitat (Laughter Lake), and right now when you sign up you can also get the second habitat (Galaxy Garden) FREE. The final habitat (Twister Top) is a one-time fee of $4.95. A fantastic deal for lots of skills practice. Go Go Kabongo is geared toward kids ages 4-7.
I liked this addition to our homeschool. It could be used for a short span each day, but give the girls a little skills boost to help with their reading. The games seemed to be well-rounded (if a little childish, but hey, they're geared toward kids!) and simple enough for my youngest to understand. They don't place arbitrary time limits on the kids, so even a child who is still getting used to the computer can play the games. And the price is unbeatable!
Want to see what other TOS Crew members thought about Go Go Kabongo? Check out their reviews here.
Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received two complimentary memberships to all 3 habitats of Go Go Kabongo in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.