Kingston University early years experts help develop new app to enhance learning for pre-school children

A new app designed to help enhance the learning of children aged three to six has launched after being developed by a team including early years educators from Kingston University.

The concept behind FabApp was to create an interactive app to supplement young children’s learning at pre-school by teaching them core skills in a fun environment. The app has been developed by a team that includes several early years experts at Kingston University alongside the company’s producers, animators and engineers.

Taught using two animated characters named Woof and Joy, the lessons cover six core learning themes – our universe, creative arts, language and multiliteracies, growth and transitions, evolving views of our worlds and research, design and innovation.

The lessons – based on the principles of the early years curriculum – was put together by current and past early years experts from Kingston University and designed in a way that would enhance a child’s capacity for independent, fun learning. “The underpinning curriculum covers all areas of early learning such as maths and literacy and promotes curiosity and creativity,” Dr Daryl Maisey from Kingston University’s School of Education said.

In addition to the lessons, the app, which is available to download worldwide and is already being used in countries including the UK, Thailand and the Philippines, offers educational games as well as fun, offline activities that parents and carers can take part in to support further learning and help build family bonds. “It’s been created in a way that is very interactive for the children but also provides support for parents and suggestions of activities they can do together, not just on screen but also when not using the app,” Dr Maisey said.

The app, which is available to download for free through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, currently features around 50 five-minute episodes, with each having a different storyline involving Woof and Joy to keep the lessons engaging for children. They also feature in-lesson games that help children learn through play and provide vital feedback to FabApp on which lessons and activities are the most popular, according to Head of Operations Vira Smyshliaieva.

“When a child starts watching an episode, they might leave it halfway through to do something else meaning they are missing vital learning. Having in-lesson games is a tool that gives us feedback to show they are still actively engaging with the lesson,” Ms Smyshliaieva said. “It also shows us which games and activities are proving popular so we can then use this intel to help us decide on the creation of future episodes,” she added.

Testing of the app and its content was a vigorous process, with current and former Kingston University early years staff piloting the product with their children and grandchildren, while the University also contacted its early years alumni and educational partners to put it through its paces. “It was a collective effort between various groups that either had children between the ages of three and six or had experience in educating at an early years level,” Dr Maisey said. “We analysed the feedback and wrote up a report which included both positive responses and suggestions for improvements which have been incorporated. They were telling us they had confidence the app was based on sound educational practice and was teaching their children vital skills at a crucial stage in their development,” she added.

As well as continuing to develop and update current content, there are also plans to create more episodes, as well as working with streaming platforms and tv companies to target new audiences. “We’ve been speaking to producers at several major streaming and TV companies and they have been really happy with the overall quality of the content and the cartoon animations. These conversations are ongoing as we’d love to reach an even wider audience,” Ms Smyshliaieva said.

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