Practice reading, build skills and curiosity with Wanderly
Jul 23, 2023
Built on key learning principles, Wanderly creates child-led, open-ended stories, aiming to blend education and fun.
I'm building Wanderly for two reasons: 1) I want it to be a ton of fun for kids and 2) I think there's an incredible opportunity to use Wanderly as an educational tool.
I've been building EdTech products for the last 7 years, 6 at Google. I founded and led Grasshopper, an educational platform for teaching coding to adults equitably. I also led Product for Google's AI for Education team, including Read Along for early-childhood literacy. Over the years, I've learned a lot about education and brought those lessons into Wanderly.
Built for Play
We all know that if something is fun, we want to do more of it. Children learn through play. Perhaps your fondest memories of school are the times you built open-ended projects, played a game at recess, art class, or put on a play. I barely remember textbooks and spelling lessons; I don't remember memorizing my times tables fondly.
First and foremost, Wanderly is meant to be fun. Kids love seeing themselves in stories, and we make Wanderly additionally personalized by allowing friends and family to join. Kids also love to choose, so Wanderly is based on the choose-your-own-adventure format. This helps them feel empowered, especially in younger kids who don't have as much opportunity to make choices for themselves.
Add in some fun characters, some emojis, and some beautiful pictures, and children typically spend 10-60 minutes in a single Wanderly session.
Constructivist and Montessori-compatible
When I built Grasshopper with my team, we decided we wanted to adopt a constructivist model of learning: instead of telling, we should show and then our students do. Wanderly takes the same approach. Let kids explore, follow their curiosity, and they can update their own knowledge as stories unfold.
Given this approach, I approached a couple of Montessori educators who confirmed that Wanderly is compatible with their approach: it's child-led and open-ended. It helps children practice decision making. Childen can follow their own curiosity and discover what happens.
A foundation for literacy
In the early years of childhood, just reading together can make a huge difference. Parents of young children can start by reading Wanderly stories out-loud and coaching the child through making choices. It exposes them to new vocabulary and practices comprehension. When children start reading independently, Wanderly's Lexile-level anchored reading levels can make sure children aren't intimidated by word and sentence complexity.
When ready, children can also learn about science and history through Wanderly's educational stories. Introducing these ideas through stories can increase success in the classroom.
Wanderly pulls together these educational principles, but I'm hoping they fade into the background as a child just enjoys each story. At the end of the day, every story can and should be magical, even if it's educational.
Review Wanderly's grade-level usage guides for helpful tips about what skills your child may be ready for and how to use Wanderly to practice these skills and connect with the family.