A playful education

Webee aims at developing independent learning and computer literacy for toddlers.

webee 521 (photo credit: WEBEE)
webee 521
(photo credit: WEBEE)
Long gone are the days when stuffed animals and wooden train sets were the only toys available for toddlers and young children.
Nowadays, seeing a three-year-old with a tablet or smartphone is quite common, but how can parents make sure that what their kids are viewing is appropriate – without constantly monitoring the child? Enter the Webee keyboard, created by husband-and-wife team Danny and Rachel Van Buren. Themselves the parents of two young children, the Van Burens say they came up with the idea for the Webee after noticing the need for a toy that provides toddlers with a sense of independence and self-confidence – something that isn’t only fun but sufficiently educational, as well as a good alternative to passive TV watching.
Rachel says that the Webee “is the best educational tool out there to give toddlers the necessary boost in developing independent learning and computer literacy, placing them ahead of the game and their peers, at an early age.”
The Webee keyboard plugs connects to a computer via a USB port. Once connected, the parents can access Webee’s educational games via its website (www.webee-world.com). The games can be purchased either individually for around $5 per game, or as part of a package that focuses on a certain age range.
There is no need to download any software, and, once connected, the Webee stays on its own website without access to the Internet, so there is no way for the child to venture away from the Webee environment.
The games, says the company, focus on teaching 20 different cognitive skills sets, incorporating music, colors and shapes, letters and numbers, physics and reading comprehension. On the website, parents can create a user profile for their children to allow them to keep track of the child’s scores and development.
Webee is currently available in English, Russian and Hebrew, and the developers aim to add additional languages, such as Spanish, German and French. The multi-language feature is handy for families in which the parents have different mother tongues, and the Webee could even be used to learn a second language.
The system also features an educational development kit, which allows parents and educators to play an active role in the child’s learning experience by creating worksheets and other activities based on Webee games.
In addition, Webee offers a Software Development Kit allowing parents with programming or software development experience to create games and sell them on the Webee site.
“The product is fine, but there is so much already out there,” Hanna Rendell, a mother of two young boys, tells The Jerusalem Report.
She notes that children’s TV programs these days are already educational and that there is a huge number of games available for either computers or tablets.
And while learning computer skills are essential in today’s society Rendell says that one doesn’t have to start at such a young age as the target audience for the Webee .
The Webee itself will cost $60-75, and promises to be durable enough to withstand even the most active kids.