PENpal is a device that plays back audio when it touches printed books, posters, stickers giving a multisensory reading experience. Each PENpal can read over 1700 books and posters and this list is always growing as new publications are launched. (Note that PENpal is not compatible with Chromebooks. Audio files must be transferred from a Windows PC or Mac)
The books are all in dual language, so PENpal will play back audio every time it touches a page - in English or in a choice of over 60 languages.
And that is not all. PENpal comes with 3 easy to use software, FREE.
1. Would you like to sound enable any book, be it your favourite book or a prescribed text? It is easy with CreateLINK.
2. You already have PENpal. Now you have bought a Mantra Lingua book with sound effects. How would you find the specific file for the book you bought? It is easy with FREElink. Yes, all the files are free so take as many as you wish.
3. There is a method of teaching which believes that children learn best by discussing, debating, narrating, exploring in groups. It is called "Collaborative Learning" and we have a series of learning activities using this method. With the free ShareLINK software, students with English as a second language can play the games, and with PENpal they can listen to how others playing the same game adapted it into another language.
How does it work? PENpal is a barcode reader, with a difference. It detects 'micro' barcodes, so small that you can hardly see them and therefore the barcodes do not ruin any artwork. The tip of the pen is a barcode reader and when a 'soundspot' with its unique barcode is detected, PENpal plays back the audio .mp3 file associated with it.
One final attribute is that PENpal is also a microphone. Unlike most microphones, PENpal saves the recordings inside its 16GB (expandable to 32GB) memory. Each recording is assigned to a specific barcode. There are over 4000 unique barcode stickers for you to record your voice onto, and PENpal will playback your voice everytime you touch the sticker. To playback you do not have to go sequentially through hours of recordings. Just touch the sticker and listen immediately to the recording you made.
PENpal is a flexible and portable device with great potential for both classroom and personal use. For mainstream teachers, it represents an excellent tool for group work and a fun way for pupils to add contextual detail and notes to printed materials, and outside of the education environment it can be both fascinating and comforting for a young child to hear stories and information in their own voice, or that of a friend or relative.
When you purchase a PENpal or ClassroomPEN, you also get access to a free course with plenty of instruction-videos and notes, so you can make the most of your pens and get started quickly.
"We are using the Penpal with our Nursery children who are aged 3-5 years old. One of the ways we have found it to be useful is to help when children first start the Nursery. We have used a family photograph of parents and the recordable stickers. Parents have recorded a message for children onto the penpal which children can listen to at any time - this gives them comfort and helps if they are needing a familiar voice.
We have also used the Penpal stickers to record familiar books - children enjoy hearing their own voices retelling the stories. We have also added sound effects to the stories using instruments and found sounds.
The children love using the penpal to hear stories and work through the activity cards. We have used headphones and a splitter so several children can listen to the story together.
We have downloaded different languages onto the PenPal - children love to hear stories in different languages, particularly when they have become familiar with them first. We celebrate a different language each month and the Penpal resource helps us to celebrate and value all the different languages.
Thank you for a great resource!"
Tracy Nugent, Head of Nursery, Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow.