The Nintendo 3DS and its older brother, the Nintendo DS, did something no-one expected in the world of gaming. While gamers were the driving force behind sales, Nintendo’s little dual-screened console broke into the market of casual gaming with the help of games like Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training and more wordsearch/crossword titles than you can shake a stylus at. Now, with the help of Oxford Reading Tree, the 3DS will see a series of phonics-based learning titles using three popular characters in Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper.
Using the touch-screen interface alongside the 3DS’ microphone and speakers, the educational games will allow parents to sit with their children while teaching them to read. Through a variety of methods such as teaching the sounds of individual letters before combining them into more complex words, the series hopes to help children learn from a very early age how to read and speak more easily.
As someone who comes from a deaf environment (I grew up with two deaf parents and only learned to speak using TV subtitles in tandem with my grandparents helping me), the use of a small games console which many children will already have to help them speak is incredibly important. Yes it may not be a game as such, Phonics Fun with Biff, Chip & Kipper sets an important precedent which could open up a new age in early-learning through the use of consoles.
The series will be released as three volumes, each of which is detailed below.
Volume 1– At Level 1 children focus on the sounds they hear around them in daily life – at school, at home, in the park or in town. Levels 1+ and 2 move onto practising the actual sounds (phonemes) and also start to introduce some alternative spellings of certain sounds (consonants).
Volume 2– At Level 3 children continue practising new sounds and are introduced to alternative spellings of certain vowel sounds. Level 4 revises all the sounds already introduced, before moving on to further alternative spellings as well as different pronunciations of the ‘-ed’ ending.
Volume 3– By Level 5 and 5M children put together their knowledge of all the alternative spellings and pronunciations they have learned so far. The exercises help children reinforce the link between sounds and the different ways they can be written. At Level 6 the emphasis is on increasing your child’s confidence and fluency through reading a range of Non-Fiction books.
All three volumes will be released at the same time on September 12th 2014 for the 3DS and 2DS.