What is BrookieKids?
BrookieKids is a brand new Chinese learning product (app + physical game pack) focused on encouraging kids ages between 2 to 6 to speak Chinese through games. The intention is to give parents simple tools to bring Chinese alive in the home and everyday life. It consists of different themed activity packs which unlock a series of voice-interactive stories, to combine with free play.
They’re being officially launched today (28 June). My kiddos were lucky enough for a behind-the-scenes early try-out of one activity pack, thanks to the passionate team behind BrookieKids.
How does the activity work?
Each activity pack contains a number of colourful cardboard cards containing QR codes. These can be hidden around the house (or used for a memory-matching game, etc) and when a card is found, the QR code can be scanned to reveal an interactive story. Each object has several different levels to progress through, which become increasingly harder as the game progresses. In total, each activity pack has 15 unique stories.
Who is behind BrookieKids?
BrookieKids is the brainchild of two mothers with a dream to raise bilingual children and create meaningful moments with their children at home. It was founded in 2021 with support from Enterprise SG Startup Founder grant, NUS Enterprise and NTUitive.
Today they have a four-woman strong team, pooling their broad expertise in teaching, content writing, and technology to create beautiful learning products for preschoolers. I had to ask the founders what the name BrookieKids refers to. The answer: Bilingual Rookies!! It’s the idea of raising little kiddos on a language adventure.
How we used our activity pack
We were gifted the Hatch Me If You Can activity pack. It consists of ten egg-shaped cards which need to be “hatched.” This immediately piqued the children’s curiosity because they’re fans of collecting surprise virtual creatures, as they already use ABC Reading Eggs for phonics.
I hid the coloured eggs around the house, and we used them for a family treasure hunt. The kids all listened attentively to the stories, to the point they didn’t want to stop playing. The good part was the different stories and eggs give a natural ‘pause’ for game to be suspended for another day. The BrookieKids website itself lists a few suggested ways to use the cards, including memory and matching games among other things.
I don’t see BrookieKids are a learning app or learning programme, but more so a type of stand-alone game that comes with an interactive phone component. I could see this concept working well for outdoors treasure-hunt type activities too, and would look forward to future products which BrookieKids might come up with in this domain!
As BrookieKids leverages the audio and visual from your smart phone, each activity pack is relatively good value-for-money (and good for the environment!) since no additional devices are required to be bought. Currently there are three packs, with many more in the pipeline.
Things a parent will love:
- It’s not a fully ‘screen-based’ activity, as it has a physical and tangible element for the child
- Cards are high quality and durable, and come in a box for safekeeping
- Simple to use right out of the box (open box, download app, and then scan to play)
- Uses practical daily vocabulary for preschoolers with clearly articulated audio
- Can be integrated with other routines or daily activities around the house (cleaning, treasure hunt, a daily surprise in the Chinese activity corner, etc)
- BrookieKids provide FREE outdoor play dates in Singapore open to all families who are interested in learning and practicing Mandarin with their children.
Things which could be improved:
- App interface seems to be hard to close or minimise sometimes (at least on our iphones)
- The app asks a child questions, to which they respond with the answer verbally and the app takes certain actions depending on what the child has said (eg choosing between one thing or another). My kids realised at Level 1, since it asks open-ended questions they can say totally incorrect answers and the app still progresses. This is a deliberate design feature at the earlier levels to cater for kids with lower proficiency, but for my kids it became a competition to say silly things. Even at the more advanced levels, the stories are relatively easy to get to the end because they’re designed to motivate a child to speak, however without an adult watching, the child could take some liberties, especially if they realise there interaction doesn’t drive much. The caveat to this is that my kids already have good Mandarin proficency and are willing to play together in Chinese, and this game is designed more for a child who would rely on English.
What my children said:
They all enjoyed it – the app kept their attention and they get through all the stories over a couple of days. Once my children reached the end of all the levels, the youngest said she would go back and play it alone another time, as the stories are really nice.
They ultimately said it was “average fun” and gave it 7 / 10 stars. For a game which exposes a young child to about 340 vocabulary words including simple idioms, this is a good score!
Would it work for your family?
I can see BrookieKIds as a helpful tool for parents in learning Mandarin together with their children. It encourages dialogue, role play, and interactive game play around the house.
The packs would be really useful for parents who know some Mandarin but don’t use it actively at home, because the activities provide a way to engage positively with the language and show their interest and enthusiasm for Chinese and creating bridges of love to learn together with a child. Sometimes I meet parents who know Chinese, but because they only ever speak to their children in English, they feel it’s difficult to create opportunities for speaking. BrookieKids is your opportunity! It would be a thoughtful birthday gift for a friend too.
As a totally non-Chinese speaking parent myself, it was impossible to engage with the activities or understand what was happening, and I wouldn’t be recommending it at all in my situation. The BrookieKids app instructions and setup are fully in English, but the stories themselves are fully Chinese audio. Luckily for me, I have two older children in the house who are fluent in Mandarin and they had a great time guiding with my preschooler and using the activity packs together.
Also note that the child playing the games needs to be able to understand basic spoken Mandarin in order to be able to engage with the stories. The app is not for a total language beginner as they won’t comprehend the narrative or prompts.
Where to buy?
Current launch price is a modest SGD$15.90 (UP SGD$17.90) with free shipping until 31 July. Readers of my blog can get enjoy a further 10% discount on all products on their website and Shopee valid until 31 July 2023 using the promo code BROOLAH at checkout. For overseas readers, there is a special international bundle price with shipping included – get all three sets for less than USD$60.
Note: this is not an affiliate link or sponsored post, however we did receive our activity kit to trial for free.
GIVEAWAY FOR MY BLOG READERS: I am doing a giveaway valid throughout July for two lucky winners to receive an activity pack from BrookieKids. To enter, please make a comment below (or alternativity on my IG post) which answers the question: When is the next BrookieKids playdate? (answer is on their website). Winners will be determined by lucky draw on 1 August and contacted via email address provided. One winner from the blog, and one from Instagram.
What else is similar to BrookieKids?
BrookieKids is a combination of an app and activity pack which spans LISTENING and SPEAKING. It makes for an appealing concept for families who try to limit screen time. I must stress though that BrookieKids isn’t screen free – in fact, the focus of the learning content is all through the screen.
If you like non-screen-based (or low screen) learning technologies, listed below are some other great products I would suggest that make use of audio technologies and visual scanning to bring physical stories/activities to life in Mandarin for home leaning:
- Luka Reading Robot – completely no screen
- Habbi Habbi books – completely no screen
- Le Le levelled readers – completely no screen
- Dim Sum Warriors – leverages app on handphone with books
- GamiMBox by Vitamin M – leverages app on handphone with books (I hope to review GamiMBox soon!)
Picture below shows us combining the BrookieKids eggs with Habbi Habbi Simplified Chinese flashcards, to create our own extended game grouping objects of different colours.