Join Dello the Dino using the power of music to grow children’s reading skills. Designed for ages four through nine, the four levels of the App are each a different game. Children learn rhyming, word and syllable identification, and practice speed reading while having fun. This FREE App supports the world’s number one resource, children!

The Mind Meets Music App (M3 App) is a tool allowing early elementary students the power of using music to cultivate academic success. The M3 App was developed to create a FREE application supporting the world’s number one resource, children! It offers an additional method of learning for emerging early elementary readers, ages four through nine.

Mind Meets Music is a non-profit organization utilizing a revolutionary method to enhance literacy, academic achievement, 21st century skills, and brain development through music. This unique curriculum was designed primarily for preschool through 2nd grade students, a critical growth period for literacy skills and brain development. The curriculum was created by Monique Salinas Ph.D., Mind Meets Music’s Founder and Executive Director.

The M3 App offers an additional method of learning for emerging readers in kindergarten through 2nd grade. Development of the M3 App was led by Mind Meets Music’s Director of Projects, Jerry Wayne Newson and was coded by David Prindle of Snow Monsters Studios. The M3 App was created to increase student recognition of English Language Arts (ELA) Sight Words by utilizing words from the Dolch Pre-Primer (Pre-Kindergarten) through 3rd Grade Word Lists along with the Dolch Noun List. Word decoding and phonemic awareness are also key components. Students are asked to match word families (rhyming words), as well as identify the number of syllables within words through the use of music notes. By gradually increasing complexity from level to level, the M3 App supports improvement in reading fluency. Additionally, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) themes are integrated in game content and varied syntax, exposing students to many different sentence structures.

Dello the Dino takes students through four levels comprising the M3 App; each one a different game ordered by difficulty and differentiated instructional learning. In alignment with Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, students of varying reading abilities find the level where they are challenged but not overwhelmed.

Students learn best through genuine active participation. Therefore, the effectiveness of the M3 App can be further enhanced if an adult or older child provides scaffolding and support as the student becomes familiar with each level. This amount of support can then be gradually decreased as the student begins to grasp the concepts being taught.

CONSULTATION

Consultation regarding relevant research articles and appropriate grade-level progression of the M3 App material was provided by Linda Pickett Ph.D., and Brian Johnson Ph.D., J.D., professors at Grand Valley State University’s College of Education. Candyce Peterson MA, CCC-SLP, speech and language pathologist, advised on the grammatical and linguistic elements of the material. Daniel S. Stauffer III Ph.D., Director of Operations and Education, provided input into each level format and game premise, ensuring the M3 App is in alignment with Mind Meets Music curriculum strategies. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s Fall 2015 Report, Getting a Read on the App Stores: A market scan and analysis of children’s literacy apps, provided insight and guidance in strategically aligning the M3 App with key findings in their research.

LEVEL 1: Rhyming Game

In Level 1, students sort and match three pairs of rhyming words. With no time limit, students move at their own pace while being introduced to word families (rhyming words). Word families are groups of words with common features or patterns containing similar combinations of letters and sounds. For example, “bug, dug, hug, and rug” are a family of words with the “ug” sound and letter combinations in common. The M3 App utilizes Wylie and Durrell’s 37 most common spelling patterns. Students can learn to read and spell more than 500 frequently used elementary words.

Level 1 differs from all other games in the M3 App as it contains single words rather than sentences and does not incorporate musical elements. Rather, it is designed to teach emerging readers pattern recognition, phonemic awareness, and decoding skills. These skills help students read full sentences and decode unknown words, necessary for success in subsequent game levels. Lastly, Level 1 exposes younger students to higher-level vocabulary words within a context, teaching them to use similar combinations of known words.

LEVEL 2: Word Syllable Identification Game

Level 2 is the first game in which students use musical elements in play. Levels 3 and 4 build upon skills introduced in Level 2 with increasing complexity. In Levels 2 – 4, music notes are used to represent the number of syllables within a word. Quarter notes (♪) represent one-syllable words while two eighth notes (♫) represent two-syllable words. Pairing words to music notes aids in the development of phonemic awareness.

In addition to syllable identification, Levels 2 – 4 of the M3 App focus on familiarizing students with the most common sight words in the English language. The ability to recognize common words is a key to fluent reading. The sentences used throughout the M3 App were strategically developed to incorporate sight words from the Dolch Word List in ascending grade-level order. In Level 2, the sentences are presented in a fixed order with words from the Pre-Primer (Pre-Kindergarten) and Kindergarten Lists appearing in earlier sets and words from the 1st Grade List emerging later on. Providing early elementary students with increased exposure to these frequently used sight words increases instant recognition and improves reading fluency.

In Level 2, students identify the number of syllables in each word within a sentence by selecting either the quarter note (♪) or eighth notes (♫) above each word. This is the most basic level focused on this skill; there is no time limit, and quarter notes (♪) are pre-selected. Students practice reading fluency when they shift their focus from the words to notes, selecting the eighth note (♫) button when two-syllable words are present. However, support from an adult or older child could be beneficial for students as they become proficient with Level 2, gradually decreasing support with increased student independence.

LEVEL 3: Sentence Syllable Identification

Level 3 of the M3 App uses the same basic concepts as Level 2, but is more abstract. Students are asked to read the entire sentence and choose the set of music notes matching the sentence from four pre-constructed options. They envision the process viewing the sentence in its entirety, rather than focusing on one word at a time, improving students’ reading fluency and comprehension. There is no time limit.

Level 3 continues to encourage recognition of sight words, incorporating words from the 2nd Grade Dolch Word List and the Dolch Noun List. In addition, sentences include STEAM concepts as themes. For example, “The blue whale is the world’s largest mammal.” Other sentences include themes of positive reinforcement such as “You are very special.” Sentences were developed to be relevant to early elementary students including references to people they love. Building connections to things students care about helps them retain knowledge and words much more easily. Level 3 sentences were created to have varying sentence structure in order to expose students to a wider range of syntax. To keep the game challenging, Level 3 eliminates the opportunity for memorization by randomizing the 150 sentence sets.

LEVEL 4: Speed Read Game

In Level 4, a sentence scrolls across the screen and students tap either the quarter note (♪) or eighth notes (♫) reflecting the number of syllables in each word as it lines up inside the box. Level 4 is the most challenging of all the M3 App games: students must be able to read fluently while quickly determining and identifying the number of syllables in each word. They also are unable to see the entire sentence simultaneously as in other levels, so they cannot use context to decode unknown words. This level continues to develop the skills of word recognition and decoding. Furthermore, this level also develops reading fluency as students must read at a set pace while words pass across the screen. In addition to skills specific to literacy development in Level 4, the design of this game promotes self-regulation, and hand eye coordination. For example, students cannot score points for tapping the note button too early or too late; tapping must correspond with the word in the box at the precise time.

Level 4 continues to develop recognition of sight words, including words from the 3rd Grade Dolch Word List and the Dolch Noun List. It also continues to incorporate STEAM concepts and positive reinforcement as sentence themes, as well as including varied syntax and subject matter relevant to early elementary students, increasing interest in the game. Similar to Level 3, the sentence sets in Level 4 are also randomized, keeping the game challenging by eliminating opportunities for memorization. Drawing from a queue of 150 sentence sets, Level 4 randomly cycles through 35 sentence sets per play.

How to use the Mind Meets Music App:

The effectiveness of the M3 App in helping develop literacy skills can be further enhanced if an adult or older student provides instruction and support to the student using the M3 App. The amount of support can gradually be decreased as mastery is gained over each level.

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