Sometimes when you are a blogger/writer/influencer/whatever you are asked to review products. I always feel like you can learn about all the science and curriculum and fancy tech aspects of the various products on their own websites. As a mom of an autistic son, I like to share our own personal story of how these products can help or apply in our everyday life, not just for the first few days he plays with the product.
Brady is 9 and practically a human Speak & Spell these days. He loves to spell everything! When he sets his mind to learning something, he continually surprises and amazes me.
Rewind to 1st grade, his teachers were concerned he was falling behind because he was failing spelling tests. “He can’t complete the spelling test so we can modify his IEP if you’d like…”
Me: “What are you asking him to spell?”
Them: “Cat, Sat, Mat…”
Me: “Brady, spell Ferrari”
Me: “Brady, spell Porsche”
Me: “He just doesn’t care about what you are asking him to spell. Maybe gear it towards something he’s interested in?”
Enter Square Panda
I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many talented men and women who work with various brands and clients either directly or through a firm. One gal I’ve worked with off and on over a span of 5+ years asked if she could send me a sample of brand she was working with. She remembered Brady and his special needs and thought he might benefit from using it.
She was right.
I thought Brady was a walking spelling bee before Square Panda and now not only is he just randomly spelling things he thinks of, he’s showing me groups of words and how they are related. The same ending sounds, changing up vowels, making things plural or past tense. Watching him discover that words have deeper meaning than just the letters that represent them is fascinating.
Square Panda – Lagoon Game
Lagoon is Brady’s favorite app/game with the Square Panda system. He loves spelling words to see if the Lagoon will match it with an image or video. He often comes up with brand names and complex words so he can get frustrated when he runs out of room to spell, the playset can accommodate a word with 8 letters. The silly chameleon starts to sound out the word and Brady will try to trick him by swapping letters at the last minute or by starting the word by spelling it backwards.
Even though my son is older than the recommended ages for Square Panda, I love how much he still learns from the apps and games. Understanding what he can understand is extremely hard, especially because of his autism, so I love how this one playset can connect us on such a seemingly simple level, yet it’s opened up our eyes to exactly what he’s learning and figuring out.
Where to Buy
Square Panda retails for $119.00, which seems a bit high if you are thinking it’s a device and an app that you put on your iPad (or tablet), but it’s so much more than that. There are many apps to download (I think there are at least 10 at the time of our review) and the games are very engaging and fun.
You can find the apps and the playset on the Square Panda website. The smart letters interact with the playset while the kids are playing the apps and learning. You can also login to a “Parent Portal” to check your child’s progress.
Again, you can learn the tech aspects of the playset on the Square Panda website, but as a mom who reviews products for a living, this is actually a toy he continually grabs and plays with. We’ve had the playset and apps for a couple of months and have gone on a few short trips and he keeps asking for it and playing with it again and again. I hope more apps are released in the future and am excited to see my son’s interest in spelling and reading continue to flourish!
disclosure: I was sent a complimentary playset for my review. No monetary compensation was made and all thoughts and opinions are mine and honest.