Mom creates reading game for son that's coming to some public schools

The game teaches "sight words" that don't follow typical spelling rules.

March 22, 2023, 1:41 PM
Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
ABC News

During the pandemic three years ago, Jacquelyn Davis noticed her son Madden was having a difficult time learning how to read.

"He would cry. He would hide in the laundry basket, anything not to have to do reading," Davis told "Good Morning America."

That's when Davis, who has a background in education, was inspired to create a reading game called Kangaroo Cravings that focuses on teaching "sight words" or words like "one" and "know" that don't follow typical spelling rules.

PHOTO: Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
ABC News

"They're words that have really high frequency and so children just need to learn them so that they have them in their long-term memory," Davis said.

PHOTO: Kangaroo Cravings uses illustrated flash cards to teach children how to read in a game format.
Kangaroo Cravings uses illustrated flash cards to teach children how to read in a game format.
ABC News

Low literacy has been a growing problem since the pandemic and according to 2022 data from The Nation's Report Card, a federal program under the Department of Education, reading scores have decreased at both grades 4 and 8 since 2019.

Kangaroo Cravings uses illustrated flash cards to prompt kids to move their bodies while learning how to spell out each word.

"There are actions like 'spell the word, each letter, with your tail, like a kangaroo,'" Davis said, explaining the game's mechanics. "We know from the science that using words and moving your body with the letters actually helps you learn them better."

The reading game has so far been tested in more than 40 real-world classrooms and is now slated for distribution across all public schools in Washington, D.C., giving teachers and school administrators another tool to boost student literacy.

"We saw something that kids had fun doing and they were learning and teachers were seeing impacts of that as they tested out the game," Melissa Kim, a former deputy chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, told "GMA."

"I'm really excited that D.C. Public Schools will be purchasing the game for every one of our schools," Kim added.

PHOTO: Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
Jacquelyn Davis developed a game called Kangaroo Cravings that helps teach kids like her son Madden how to read.
ABC News

Davis' son Madden, for his part, said playing Kangaroo Cravings has made a big difference in his reading ability.

"Playing it made me actually start to want to read and now I read on grade level," he said.

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