Raising children of the tech-savvy generation isn’t a walk in the park because as parents, we have the responsibility of limiting the use of certain gadgets. But since it’s impossible to totally cut our kids off from technology, we might as well look for educational gadgets! To be honest, I don’t usually look out for tech toys, but recently I was introduced to the Pen Pal WHIZZ and I thought I’d show you how fun it is to use, my kids love it and the bonus is that it’s educational.
Pen Pal Whizz is a ‘magic pointer’ that recites written text when you tap with it on the body of words, enables characters in the book to ‘speak’ when you tap on the illustrations etc. It functions also as an MP3 player so you can upload songs into it by plugging it in to your computer and transfer files. It has a 4GB memory and can store audio files of more than 100 books. When you purchase new books that are compatible with the pen, simply download the audio file from the website into the pen.
Benefits of using Pen Pal WHIZZ
When a child uses Pen Pal to tap on the book, the pre-loaded audio file is activated and spoken by the pre-recorded voice inside. The interesting sounds excite the child, as the characters in the book come to live with ‘real’ voices and sometimes even with dialogue not present in the main story (only if the author has written extra scripts for the characters). I’d say Pen-Pal provides an additional dimension to reading books traditionally!
Besides, with Pen Pal, I can get to have some time to quickly whip up something in the kitchen while the kids learn using the Pen Pal on their own. Should my girl not be able to read a body of text as there are too many words she doesn’t know, she can simply tap it with Pen Pal as many times as she needs to get the words and the meaning instead of coming to me every time she meets an unfamiliar word which can be disruptive for learning. Independent learning can take place as she has to rely on her visual and listening skills to read the book with Pen Pal.
The drawback is of course he likes to tap on the pictures a lot more than on the words! For those particular about focusing on only one language at a time, unfortunately, both the English and Chinese words are read out together so there isn’t an option to listen to only one language at a time. My girl also finds it fun to read books together with her brother, allowing him to take the lead – I also like that there is book continuity so Pen Pal will continue to be useful after you have explored all the books in the initial set. As JLB Educational Technology works with many local publishers, new books which are made compatible with Pen Pal WHIZZ are launched monthly. All books that are made compatible are carefully screened through to ensure quality reading for users. Our current favourites are Emily Lim’s award-winning character building books and Leana Lyn Doray’s Bleagh (book reviews and autographed copies for giveaway for all these books coming up soon!).
The recording function
I think what fascinated my daughter most when she used it for the first few times was the recording function of Pen Pal. Simply tap on the ‘Read with Me’ icon at the beginning of the book and the user can record the body of text after the audio recording is done then wait to listen to how the recorded version fares against the professional reading. Here’s my little girl doing a demo video (warning: you may need to turn your volume down a little for this video):
Make your own recordings
Besides allowing children to record parts of the story as they read (which is quite good preparation for oral exams in the future!), you can purchase recording stickers (sold separately) and make your child’s favourite book compatible with Penpal WHIZZ. Read and record the story and your child can listen to your voice narrating the story even if you are away on a business trip! Here’s my demo video of how to use these recording stickers –
Besides recording the story, you can also record your child’s voice and stick the recording sticker in your scrapbook album as a keepsake (to remember how cute he/she sounded at that age!)
Here’s a video of how interactive storybooks can be with Penpal Whizz – there’s a game that quizzes the child based on what has just been read on that page or the child may be asked to point out something on the page as shown in this video (great for comprehension and observation skills):
Now, don’t you agree this is a pen worth investing in? 🙂 Here’s the good news! I have 1 Pen Pal WHIZZ Special Bundle to give away on the blog! As usual, simply fill in the Rafflecopter widget below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: For the Pen Pal WHIZZ review, I was provided with a Pen Pal WHIZZ bundle set and some Pen Pal WHIZZ compatible storybooks. All opinions are 100% mine.
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