A Multi-Lingual Early Literacy Game, ages 3-and-up

Yaya Play Games is excited to announce our collaboration with
Curious Learning labs and the Global Literacy Project to create a new game
intended to promote early literacy in developing communities.

The game is expected to be released in 2016,
initially available in multiple languages including Zulu and Spanish.


In Monkey Garbage Truck early readers learn a hundred simple words in a variety of languages. The game is being developed for the Global Literacy Project, a non-profit organization that encourages native-language literacy in developing communities by donating tabelts loaded with native literacy apps. While there are no shortage of literacy games in English, how many apps can you find to learn Zulu (South Africa), or Coccia (Peru)?

With Monkey Garbage Truck we seek to fill a specific educational niche: top-down word acquisition. Those learning a language typically pick up words in two ways: through sounding them out phonetically, and through “whole word” recognition – such as pairing words with pictures. MGT offers a playful game designed around this word-recognition mode of learning.

The game starts up on the rooftops, to select 1 of 3 stages: Learning, Practice, and Awesome.
  • In stage 1 the player learns vocabulary by matching pictures to words surrounded by the picture outline.
  • In stage, 2 the player practices vocabulary by matching pictures to words without the outline, unless they tap the word for a hint.
  • In stage 3 they perform by matching the word to the picture. In each stage tapping the items in the truck activates supportive sound files by native speakers.

    All 100 words are available at each learning stage, so the learner can practice and then perform, gaining confidence as they go from screen to screen.

    When all 4 matches in the garbage truck have been made, the player gets a star. Up in the rooftop selection area these stars are available for play. They can be used to decorate the monkey or the rooftop, or to create a barrier that breaks when new stars arrive. This bonus system was developed from theories of emergent play and intrinsic rewards. Each of the 3 stages offers a different star color, both to enhance play and to indicate progress.

    The theme of the game was inspired by a 2.5-year-old who requested a game of this name, and for the cross-cultural childhood fascination with both primates and waste disposal. The game implies a never ending battle between the Messy Monkey and the Driver Monkey, and it is the player’s job to clean it up. The garbage truck theme and visual matching system created interesting constraints on the design. We quickly realized we could only do words that were unique and easy to visualize. We also decided we did not want any animals, birds, insects, or people going into the garbage, so we are working on different screen scenarios for those words.

    The structure of this app allows us to easily build out to any written language, and we are excited to see Monkey Garbage Truck played by children around the world!


    We are part of a large community of developers
    who care about making games for positive impact!
    Here are some useful links:
    Games for Change
    Dr Jane McGonigal

    Jason Wiser
    Design and Animation
    Chris Hart
    Rachel Dziezynski
    Music Performance
    Chris Florio & Yaela Wiser
    Music Composition

    Monkey Garbage Truck © 2015 by Jason Wiser and Yaya Play Games.
    All rights reserved. www.YayaPlay.com

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