When Number 1 was little, I remember asking my son to:
Okay, repeat after me
Hey diddle diddle,
the cat and the fiddle,
the cow jumped over the moon,
the little dog laughed to see such sport
and the dish ran away with the spoon.
After a gazillion times practicing, he still would get it wrong. Sometimes I thought he was doing it on purpose! He may as well have been. I was clearly being stupid by hammering a method that wasn't working.
But maybe I'm not so bad.... Sometimes, you have to fail to know what failure looks like. Rote repeating doesn't seem to help him. Thus, I had a feeling that when he started studying for spelling and vocabulary tests, the conventional way of copying it over and over was not going to help him. I also didn't want to take over and sit him down and turn his job into my responsibility. Like rote repeating, rote copying would not likely help. Especially when my son would write down his words like this- vertically, like a machine:
1. a r t i f a
2. a r t i f a
3. a r t i f a
4. a r t i f a
5. a r t i f
Ha! You laugh and think he's cute but if you are his mother, you don't think it's so damn cute.
Humor is a Catalyst for Memorization?When I saw Cuddle Barn's Talking Tom doll, I got an idea. I thought about humor and the power of teaching oneself and how the two elements might help commit things to memory. Do you remember funny things? I do. I remember silly things too. I think that although we are just talking, your body shakes when you are laughing. You are holding your belly and trying not to pee. So if it was that funny, of course you wouldn't forget, right? See this TED video above on the power of comedy for communication.
Learn by Teaching?The same thing goes for reading something to someone, even a Talking Tom. It's not like someone is asking him to repeat something. Rather, he is directing Tom to repeat after him. The child is the teacher now. And he must stay even more alert to speak properly and then LISTEN to make sure the words were repeated properly- the Talking Tom style of course. I don't know about you but when I am charged with teaching someone something, I make myself know it. I convince myself of the material as I am explaining it with conviction to someone else.
But what do I know, I'm no teacher, so let's go to the real thing. Alison Berkley, Director of the Emerge and See Education Center happily agreed to talk to me about my hunch. Can Talking Tom help my kid study for his vocabulary test?
Access More MemoryAfter she played with the toy, Alison said that sometimes being silly can help as she recalled sucking on helium as a kid to make her friends laugh. "But, we can take that silliness and leverage it for learning, just like any good mom or educator would!" Phew. Okay, I'm not crazy for making my kid study with a toy cat.
"Talking Ben is a great way to access auditory memory," Alison said (Alison played with Talking Ben). "Just like we have visual learners and tactile learners, there are also people who are auditory learners." Alison feels that Talking Tom is a useable tool for such learners because it plays to their strengths. It plays back to the child in real time thus reinforcing whatever the child says to it.
Develop Your Auditory Memory
Alison also felt that Talking Tom (or Ben) could be a tool to develop auditory memory in those who may need some extra help. She recalls when she was learning Spanish, she could not parse down the syllables correctly and things sounded like one long jumbled word. With practice, she broke down the sounds to break the overall cacophony into manageable, understandable parts. "I think Talking Ben is in essence doing the same thing," she said. "He is helping kids who might not be able to differentiate sounds or syllables figure out what it is they are hearing or saying"
1. Tell Talking Tom a word and recite definition to him.
2. Stop when Tom talks and try your best to listen to him repeat it back to you.
Spoiler: MY SON ROCKED HIS TESTAlison thought this method could be good for some kids because they are reinforcing a word that they have seen and written (and the visual learners will have drawn a picture) the word and Talking Ben now lets them hear it too. "This multi-pronged approach to studying cements and solidifies learned content in long-term memory so that it can be manipulated and expanded upon." Ooh, I never asked him to write it down while he speaks to Tom. I gotta try that!
Thanks Talking Tom. I'm sorry I deleted the original version of you as a APP because my kids got horribly annoying with the poop jokes. And while you have proved to be tremendously useful, I much prefer the version of you that is more soft and huggable even if you take up more space than 47 megabytes. - See more at: http://www.toysaretools.com/2013/03/studybuddytom.html#sthash.9lMmnRNl.dpuf