We recently tested out the brand new Alexa Skill – ‘Yak Talk Back!’, an interactive story experience which provides a supportive environment where children can express their feelings whilst developing their social, conversational and critical thinking skills.
It offers a new solution to an old problem: getting kids to open up about their feelings, dreams and needs.
Engaging , fun and entertaining, ‘Yak Talk Back!’ is designed for children aged 5-12 (my sons are 7 and 10) and encourages families to spend more time exploring their feelings. We’ve found the tool invaluable here, particularly as we collectively try to navigate the choppy waters during lockdown and this current crisis.
My boys, like most kids, oscillate between being openly expressive and talkative (usually at 100 miles per hour) to the complete opposite: shy guys, lacking in confidence. ‘Yak Talk Back!’ has enabled them both to become consistently vocal.
Despite being an educational and developmental tool, because it’s presented in a game-like format, the children don’t feel like they’re learning or practising important life skills. The experience feels organic and natural and just flows, especially when we use it over dinner or over breakfast on a weekend, when we have more time, as we have here.
‘Yak Talk Back!’ features the friendly and funny Yak along with original music and sound design to serve as a catalyst for conversation – helping families to meaningfully connect rather than rush through dinner or the day.
Ever had those mumbled long lunches or silent dinners, struggling to engage your kids to speak, then this is what you need.
You simply ask Alexa for the ‘Yak Talk Back!’ tool and Yak will kicks off a conversation with you, sharing his thoughts with you. His thoughts change every day to keep conversation fresh.
So far, he’s discussed his day with us, his favourite grilled food and what he wants to do when he grows up.
A conversation starter, Yak has asked my kids about their own dreams and aspirations. They both want to be YouTubers when they’re older, suprise suprise, and I’ve learnt that corn on the cob and hallumi skewers are their go-to favourites from the grill.
Yak is a positive character kids can model and has been created with the assistance of learning experts. Yak is helping my boys to hone, only their conversational skills but also their listening skills, too. My children are learning how to truly listen with Yak, to not speak over one another and really think about their answers.
A wonderful outcome has been seeing their confidence increase as they become more adept at clearer communication and expressing their opinions.
I was fascinated to read Reel2Media Co-Founder Mike Thomas’ inspiration behind this transformational tool,
‘Like many parents, I struggled to get my kids to open up and talk to me about their day and technology was often part of the problem. Studies show that children under 14 now spend twice as long on smartphones as they do talking to their parents! As a father, I needed a solution. I realised we could take the technology we’d been working with – the very thing which often acts as conversational barrier – and turn it on its head. Yak uses technology ‘for good,’ to help families like my own engage more with one another and that’s a result.’
Well, it gets the thumbs up from us.
Since using the tool, Xander has opened up about his confusion over the school closures and his worries for when school reopens. He misses his friends, and isn’t sure he ever wants to fly again.
Together, we’ve explored his fears and made a list of all the things we feel grateful for today, right now: our health, the love we share and of course, our favourite food.
Thank you Yak for encouraging my kids to talk back (in a good way). This tool helps speaking up become a habit.
We snapped these photos over breakfast but you can use ‘Yak Talk Back!’ at any time.
Currently available in both North America and the UK, ‘Yak Talk Back!’ can be accessed and enabled from the Amazon Alexa Skills Store now. Or simply say “Alexa, enable Yak Talk Back!” to start the experience.
It’s good to talk, but it’s even better to Yak!
This is a paid post but as always, my words are honest.
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