The best time to learn a second language is before 6 years old, yet most language-learning tools are geared towards kids in 1st grade and up. The few that are available for younger kids are either passive (watching a DVD), or are not engaging enough to hold a youngster’s attention. Peach Ice Cream Adventures (PICA) aims to fill that gap, by providing a multi-sensory, tablet-based language immersion game that teaches 3-6 year olds Chinese, French, Spanish, or German (depending on fundraising goals reached, see below).
Interest in raising children to be bilingual is on the rise because of globalization, and parents (whether they are monolingual or multilingual) realize that being bi/multilingual will be beneficial as our environments become more linguistically and culturally diverse. Although it is certainly possible to learn a new language at any age, learning languages comes easier to people when they are younger. There are also cognitive benefits for bilingual children, as they enjoy a more developed thought process.
What is Peach Ice Cream Adventures? Peach Ice Cream Adventures is a gamified 2nd-language learning tool for 3- to 6-year-olds. The game lets children follow Peach Blossom Monkey into magical lands to seek ingredients for making peach ice cream. Along the way, the game aims to teach young players about shapes, colors, numbers, plants, animals and how ice cream is made. In full language immersion, the children learn a second language through the vehicle of science exploration. It will be multi-sensory, so it provides a very rich learning experience: you have images for the visual learners, sound (an obvious necessity for language-learning) for the audio learner, and touch for the kinesthetic learner. The multi-sensory experience helps provide various cues that can be reactive, which is a very important aspect to learning another language. By incorporating gamification techniques, the intrinsic rewards of goal-achievement within a game environment self-motivates the learner to process and retain new material better. An actual game (not just animation and sound attached to flash card formats) provides that engagement through contextual relevance, so they learn by logical association instead of rote memorization. Also, the learning curriculum is actually based off an existing, successful Chinese Immersion Program for 2-6 year olds. PICA is the first of many gamified “digital slices” of this Immersion Program.
What languages will PICA be teaching?
The beauty of this project is that PICA will be built of an existing technology platform, allowing PICA to be in different languages without having to recreate the whole game with each version. For this Kickstarter project, PICA will have a Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish version.
Three Moms The PICA Project is a collaborative effort among 3 career moms who want
this language-learning game for their own kids. All 3 moms have kids
under 6 years old. Between us, we have tried every app out there, and
nothing has engaged our kids long enough for them to actually play it.
From personal experience, we realized that kids are very
“utility-based”. There is a strong gravitational pull for kids to speak
the predominate language that is most relevant to their world.
Relevance, at this age, is something that is engaging and fun for them.
That can mean learning all the long, hard-to-pronounce dinosaur names
or knowing all the superheroes and their respective superpowers. It
helps to have something deemed as “cool” as an inspiration point.
Dr. Waipeng Lee is a former Professor in Communication at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at Nanyang Technological University, and has a passion for writing. She is fluent in Mandarin
Chinese, Cantonese, and English. She also speaks Malay and Hakka (gejia
hua). In addition to the U.S., she has lived in Malaysia, Singapore,
Taiwan, and Ireland.
Dr. Lillian Dai is PhD from MIT, and now runs an online early childhood
English tutoring service. Dr. Dai was born in Qinghai, China and grew
up speaking Mandarin. Currently, Dr. Dai lives in Ottawa, Canada with
her multi-lingual (English, French, Malay, and some Mandarin, Cantonese,
Vicky Wu Davis is a videogame industry veteran and serial entrepreneur.
For the past several years, she focused her attention on creating and
designing curriculum in her areas of passion: a youth entrepreneurship
program for middle school and high schools students, as well as a
Chinese Immersion Early Education program, inspired by her older son.
We couldn’t find any Chinese learning tools that worked for our children, so we
realized that we had to create it ourselves. Banding together, we are the driving force behind The PICA Project. However, the PICA project is not just about the three of us, but all parents who are eager to foster an early interest and skills that will prove important to social aculturation. Through many conversations with other parents (regardless of the
mother-tongue), we traded stories of the struggles and tug-o-wars we had with our kids to keep the mother tongue...or the endless search that
monolingual parents have to find a suitable app that can teach their
children effectively without a native speaker in the home.
We Need Your Help We need YOUR support in order to transform this magical
adventure from paper into an interactive 2nd language learning
tool. Parents want their kids to
learn and kids want to have fun.
These 2 interests need not conflict with each other…in fact, fun
reinforces the learning. And we
want the learning to begin…soon…especially since our kids are in the prime of
what’s considered the Golden Years of learning and retaining languages.
To get PICA into the hands of kids, we need your help in
spreading the word. We know that
once people hear about PICA, they will be inspired to invest in the game, and
receive some amazing products in return.
(Check out the rewards sidebar).
The Kickstarter funding will enable us to finish the PICA game
that we have already put a ton of time and effort into. We have an
awesome crew of artists, designers, and developers ready to finish PICA as soon
as the funds are in.
In summary Our minimum fundraising goal is $60K, which will be an iPad version of a
Mandarin Chinese, Spanish and French PICA game, with English support (see reward
sidebar for details). It will also include a Parental Dashboard so
parents can view their child’s play patterns.
If PICA is funded beyond our minimum fundraising goal, what will happen?
Stretch Goal #1: $70K to develop Android versions. If we reach a fundraising goal of
$70K, we will develop an Android version of PICA in Mandarin Chinese
(with English support), Spanish (with English support), and French (with English support).
Stretch Goal #2: $110K to develop an ESL version for Spanish Speakers. Rewards will be adjusted accordingly if we meet this goal.
Risks and challenges
PICA will require an intensive development schedule that includes creating additional art, recording native speakers in Chinese and other languages, programming, testing, etc. Fortunately, the PICA team is experienced and up for the task, and the backend technology platform already exists… ready to be integrated into the game.
With your support and feedback during the development, we will deliver an engaging, age-appropriate tablet experience that will engage children over and over again. Rather than glorified flashcards, or a game with a few Chinese words sprinkled in, PICA will immerse young players in another language within context for retention, and help them become functionally bilingual. We want PICA to be a “spark” that ignites your child’s interest in another language.
Kindle version of the beautifully illustrated PICA children's storybook (English/Chinese), PICA interactive iPad game (Mandarin Chinese with English support), and PDF with pin yin and Chinese characters for focus words within PICA game (specify traditional or simplified characters).
Remote Reader iPad app version of the beautiful illustrated PICA children storybook (English/Chinese). This will allow a reader (ie. Grandparent) to read the storybook remotely to a child through the PICA tablet app. This comes as a SET of 2 Remote Reader Storybook Apps.
Remote Reader iPad app version of the beautiful illustrated PICA children storybook (English/Spanish). This will allow a reader (ie. Grandparent) to read the storybook remotely to a child through the PICA tablet app. This comes as a SET of 2 Remote Reader Storybook Apps.
A 90 minute session of the Chinese immersion program that PICA is based off of, taught by native Chinese teacher (for up to 8 kids). Each child will also receive a PICA interactive iPad game (Mandarin Chinese with English support). Session must be held in a school, library, or public venue within 25 miles of Cambridge, MA.
School Pack: Up to 12 copies of PICA interactive iPad game in Chinese, French or Spanish (more languages if our stretch goals are met), plus training for teachers. Limited to schools in the New England area.
One copy PICA interactive iPad game (Mandarin Chinese with English support), one Kindle version of the PICA storybook, a poster of Peach Blossom Monkey signed by the artist, meet-the-artist for a "green screen session" to create a 30 second trailer of your child with the Peach Blossom Monkey.