It may look like they’re playing games, but local students aren’t just having fun, they’re learning valuable skills.
We recently got our first look at the Bakersfield City School District’s relatively new program, now entering its second phase. It’s called Smarty Ants, and it’s fun and interactive.
“In our community, we serve a lot of children that come to our schools with very limited access to early childhood learning experiences whether it is a structured pre-school program or a home base program, but ultimately access to literacy skills,” said Mark Luque, assistant superintendent of educational services for BCSD.
Jolie Brouttier, kindergarten teacher at Mckinley Elementary School, agrees. She says, coming into school, most of her students don’t have any previous exposure to computers.
To help tackle the problem the district brought in Smarty Ants.
“It’s a game,” said Brouttier. “They have their very own character that they can win outfits for, so they can turn their ant into a superhero. They have a pet dog for their character. They can play songs on it, it’s really fun for them.”
But, this game is more than just fun.
“It’s specific to what they need,” said Brouttier. “If they need letters and sounds, it’s going to take them to lessons that teach you letters and sounds. If they’re advanced and ready to start reading words and start reading sentences then it’s going to bump them up there.”
Brouttier says the program helps her prepare lesson plans and identify those students who are struggling.
While Smarty Ants is being used in most classrooms, BCSD encourages parents to introduce it to their younger children at home.
“So many kids are on the phones or the tablets already, let’s make it education and useful to them when they’re on those tablets and phones,” said Brouttier.
If you’re a parent interested in using Smarty Ants at home, all you need to do is request logins from the school district.