Bamboo Learning Launches Comprehensive Educational Alexa Skill

Voice-based educational technology startup Bamboo Learning has debuted a new eponymous Alexa Skill for teaching kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. The new skill combines lessons on reading, language arts, and math, as opposed to the individual, Alexa skills for those subjects already available, with families able to enroll multiple kids in different grades to take part in the lessons.

Sounds of Learning

Bamboo Learning already offers Alexa skills and Google Assistant actions on several subjects. The new Bamboo Learning Alexa skill merges the Bamboo Math, Bamboo Books, and Bamboo English skills into a single curriculum containing millions of activities narrated by a Panda teacher. The Panda guides the children through the lessons, noting when they are correct and helping point them in the right direction if they get it wrong.  A family can enroll up to six users to take part in personalized lessons, with each child having their own unique animal avatar, to mark their educational progress. The lessons are designed to be purely audio but include images and text on Echo Show smart displays and Fire TVs.

“With the new Bamboo Learning Alexa skill, kids in grades K–5 can enjoy an incredibly fun learning experience for listening & reading comprehension, language arts, and math,” Bamboo Learning CEO Ian Freed said in a statement. “Bamboo Learning now includes a Panda guide voiced by a professional actor, custom-designed sound effects, the ability to earn tokens, and millions of free activities to help kids
catch up on unfinished learning over the past 15 months.”

Standard Teaching Panda

Each grade level has its own range of activities, using Common Core and state standards to organize and arrange the lessons,  Parents can also opt-in to get weekly emails with updates on how their child is performing. Bamboo Learning is free, but there’s a premium subscription version called Bamboo Learning Plus, which opens up the entirety of Bamboo’s activities, including 100 million math problems and an initial 50 audiobooks for $4 a month.

Using voice AI to educate kids and evaluate their learning is on the rise, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary global at-home learning. Google Play Books added features to help teach kids to read earlier this year, building on previous efforts. Last May, the company launched a new Android app called Read Along that came with a kid-focused voice assistant named Diya. Read Along takes turns reading stories with a child. Then in October, Google folded reading tutor app Rivet into Google Assistant. And last summer, edtech software developer Amplify unveiled a new literacy assessment for kids in a partnership with children’s speech recognition tech startup SoapBox Labs. Text Reading Online measures how well kids can read and understand written information thanks to SoapBox Fluency, which automatically tracks performance and shares the data with the teacher.

“Bamboo Learning worked with literacy experts and teachers to carefully design voice-enabled activities for children in grades K–5 based on the standard elementary school curriculum; our goal is to help children gain academic confidence in reading, language arts, and math,” Bamboo Learning head of content Irina Fine explained. “Children are used to receiving verbal instruction and guidance in the classroom, and for the first time ever, they have access to a comprehensive voice-based learning tool covering areas as diverse as comprehension, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, number sense, and calendar math.”


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