Square Panda, creators of an award-winning multisensory edtech literacy platform, today announced SquareTales, a first-of-its-kind system of digital and companion print books that works together with the Square Panda learning games and playset to help pre-kindergarten and elementary students develop the essential skills they need to confidently read sentences, books and other connected text.
“The ability to read fluently affects everything about a person’s life and kids who lag behind in early years rarely can catch up to those who are reading by fourth grade,” said Andy Butler, CEO of Square Panda. “When combined with our library of learning apps and the award-winning playset, SquareTales provides an even more effective learning system for young students and early readers.”
SquareTales represents a new edtech paradigm: using technology as a means to an end, which is the reward of reading real books, rather than the typical edtech approach where technology itself is the focus and the reward. SquareTales helps kids at all skill levels to transition from mastering reading fundamentals such as phonics and spelling within the digital app to becoming confident, proficient book readers.
“SquareTales is all about getting children to experience the excitement of reading a book independently,” said Butler. “Knowing as few as eight letters, a child can begin to read with SquareTales books that contain carefully matched text to what the child has already learned.”
According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)’s 2017 Reading Report Card, 63 percent of U.S. fourth-grade students are not reading at a proficient level. SquareTales allows beginning readers to build literacy skills sequentially, providing scaffolded instruction as kids progress from reading with support from a parent or teacher to reading independently.
SquareTales helps students to extend early literacy skills (phonics, blending sounds, and learning simple words) into reading simple sentences with a simple and highly pictorial storybook format. SquareTales can be used in conjunction with the SquarePanda multisensory learning games (available as an app for iPad and Android tablets), the SquarePanda playset and Smart Letters for a complete literacy system that moves students from the pre-reading stage into the world of printed books.
SquareTales Engages as It Instructs
Adding to the personal learning experiences gained from the Square Panda playset and learning apps, Square Panda supports students’ learning all of the five essential components of reading identified by the National Reading Panel: phonemic awareness (a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a spoken word), phonics (the relationship between a specific letter and its sound as it relates to a written word), vocabulary development, reading fluency (the ability to read text accurately and smoothly) and reading comprehension.
For beginning readers, SquareTales provides simple, highly controlled text presented through the engaging environment of Square Panda’s characters, lively art, games, activities and compelling storylines. Conforming to English Language Arts (ELA) state standards in foundational reading skills, SquareTales supports reading fluency through guided practice of fundamentals—such as word families, common spelling patterns, CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and sight words, and repeated readings of text.
To enhance the learning experience, SquareTales also includes supplemental materials such as flashcards that highlight key phonics concepts, character trading cards that introduce memorable characters such as Square Panda and Cameo, and bookmarks that help track new sight words introduced in the books.
Subscription-Based Offering to Schools
For the education market, Square Panda’s offerings include subscription-based access to a suite of learning games and a cloud-based teacher portal, the Square Panda Classroom Edition Playset, Smart Letters and the SquareTales books. School districts can purchase the Square Panda Classroom offerings from Square Panda’s U.S. distribution partner Learning Ally.
For consumers, SquareTales is available at BJ’s Wholesale Club stores and BJs.com as a limited release with a three-month free subscription with the purchase of a Square Panda Phonics Playset. SquareTales will be available directly in early 2020 as a subscription service to consumers. Two books are available for preview now, Pan Naps and Pan and the Mat.
About Square Panda
Square Panda designs a multisensory edtech learning system that helps children worldwide, across skillsets and socioeconomic backgrounds, learn to read, write and communicate. Designed for kids ages 2 to 8, Square Panda products use a multisensory approach of sight, sound and touch to help all children become confident, fluent readers. Its adaptive platform assesses and engages learners through personalized play experiences grounded in a neuroscience research-based curriculum. Square Panda has its headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., and offices in Beijing, China, and Mumbai, India. For more information, visit www.squarepanda.com.
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