Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is a new app from Gazoob to complement early learning at school.
I jumped at the chance to review the Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper app – H is starting in reception this September and I know they’ll be reading their books, I’d been looking at buying the books or picking some up at Car Boot Sales. Shaun regularly points out we have too many books (I know, that sounds bad but once she’s reading we can box away a lot – I bought lots of ‘That’s Not My…’ books when she was a baby and they take up space) so having all of them within an iPad app is possibly the perfect solution. Plus H enjoys reading books on there – we’ve had the Mog app for a while now and she often reads it without me, doing it in her own time.
I was keen to see the books as things have changed since I was little, I learnt using ITA – these days it’s far more sensible and uses phonics. Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes in six levels –
Level 1: Getting ready to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 2: Starting to read. Age 4-5 years
Level 3: Becoming a reader. Age 4-5 years
Level 4: Developing as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 5: Building confidence as a reader. Age 5-6 years
Level 6: Reading with confidence. Age 5-6 years
There are 48 books in total. I spotted on the Gazoob website that the books go to a higher level – their response to the question is as follows : There are two parallel Biff, Chip & Kipper series from Oxford University Press.
Ours is a home reading series and is designed to complement the 9 level Classic series which is used in schools.
The classic series is not currently available as apps.
Each book has some Tips for Reading Together – which has helpful hints of things to do when reading. I know I rush when I read books and it’s teaching me to slow down a bit, and spend more time talking about the pictures as well as pointing out each word. Most of this is about repetition and encouraging your child to join in – as well as having an activity to do on each picture – the first book you need to find a shell in each picture, and so on.
The phonics option is brilliant – so far we’ve barely gone into any depth, but having an I-spy game so the child has to work out which object starts (or ends!) with a letter is genius – and one H puzzled over for a good twenty minutes today – and tracing over the letters is always fun and good practice – I’m looking forward to more on the phonics side of things and how we’ll progress as you can almost feel it clicking somewhere with it being done properly.
Within the story side you have three options – Read by myself, Read to me and Auto play. Right now we’re doing the second stage quite a lot, though H does read it herself – you can press each word and it tells you what it is. At the end of each book are questions about the story and a puzzle.
Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper comes from a new company called Gazoob who aim to develop, publish and recommend educational materials, be it Apps, Games, Videos or Teaching materials. They already have a few titles under their belt, and will be adding a lot more as the year goes on.
How have we found it? I’ve been impressed. H’s word recognition has definitely improved and she’s much more confident – they don’t use these books at her nursery preschool but will in her school from September. Phonics-wise I think this is where she’s made the biggest jump and can now spell words and work them out much easier than two or three months ago.
I think Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is an excellent app – it’s free to download with the 48 books being an additional purchase at £149.99 – which is a lot of money, although you can buy individual books at £3.99 each (so it works out cheaper overall to buy the books in one lot – a lot would depend on the stage your child is at). I love how H asks to play apps on the iPad and sees these books as fun, to me that’s half the battle with learning. It’s also something we’ll get a lot of use from, and isn’t going to be something that’s ignored in six months time – potentially taking H up to her sixth birthday which is still two and a half years away. The design of Read With Biff, Chip and Kipper is nice and clean, the fonts are good (and yes, comic sans is present, grrrrr!) and instructions are clear.
It is Mac and Windows compatible – for more information head to their website.
There’s a giveaway on their site to win the full app – you need to head to their Facebook page, and quick – the giveaway ends on the 31st May 2013!
We were sent a code to review the full app with all books – all opinions are our own.