At the very very top, of the tallest tree
A strange new creature was starting to be.
A Lairy no less - cute, charming, and sticky,
Made mostly of mischief and topped up with tricky.
A nose for trouble, a glint in its eye,
Moist wings uncurled and prepared to fly.
Far, far below the earth took a breath,
For it knew, without doubt, what was coming next.
The Lairies are naughty little creatures that come to life at the top of the tallest tree in Wagglewood. They appear in Lairytales – app and book-based stories designed to use the power of laughter to help children explore language, storytelling and context.
If you’ve ever tried to support literacy learning with your early readers, you’ll understand how frustrating the experience can be. Reading materials from school can be dry and the whole process often feels more like a chore than the first exciting step into a wonderful world of storytelling.
Lairytales are different. The stories combine a child-focused fun factor, with academic, social and emotional education opportunities.
Prompts and discussion points created by qualified primary school teachers are included in each story, mixed with suggestions for dialling up the fun with lots of physical silliness.
The key point is that you and your child laugh and learn together.
Lairytales also encourage children to take risks with words without fear of failure or reprimand, leveraging our early fascination with the ickier side of language.
Each story, print and digital, includes design spaces for kids to let their imaginations run wild creating their own characters.
Children can even add their own crazy critters to the pages, making for more immersive experiences and giving them the opportunity to personalise each story.
Laughter and Learning
When our daughter was about three years old we started reading the Lairytales to her. A funny thing happened. She began memorising and recognising some of the words… the naughty* words.
Even as a pre-reader she could identify words that made her laugh in the story and would recognise and say them before I reached them.
Here’s a quick experiment
Ask your child to spell and write down this list of simple rhyming words:
Now let them pick one of those words to talk about how it breaks down into parts.
Which word did they pick? Which word made them giggle? Which word engaged them more in the learning process, without them even knowing it?
Laughter makes learning easier. Those shared giggles create positive associations with the words and messages of the story. And, as parents or grandparents or carers, we sometimes need to challenge our autopilot responses to naughty* words.
* Underwear, bum and poop are our current favourites.
On and Offline
Technology has a huge part to play in education, learning and creativity. But for our young children, who have been born into a digital world, there is a risk of never switching off.
That’s why Lairytales will be available digitally in an app (iOS and Android) and physically as books, with lots of opportunities for interaction across both mediums.
Lairytales offer children the choice about how to interact with the characters and stories, and give adults the control to decide when each channel is appropriate
We believe that strong, enjoyable characters and stories underpin learning.
The Lairies are naughty little creatures that come to life at the top of the tallest tree in Wagglewood. They live under the watchful eye of the wise old Cloaken Oak.
Each little Lairy has a horrible habit that would make good people like us with our lovely and perfect manners, wrinkle our noses in disgust and shudder with horror.
Do you always clean your teeth for three whole minutes, tidy your toys away the second you’ve finished playing with them, and never, ever leave it to someone else to wipe up the milk sloshed from your cereal bowl? You do? Oh. You should probably keep a safe distance from the Lairies then.
However, if you’ll admit to occasionally shoving crisp packets down the sides of the sofa, or sneaking out of bed after the lights have been turned off, or even purposefully jumping in puddles wearing your school shoes, well then, the Lairies might be the folk for you after all.
Have a sneaky peek at a few of the icky little imps. Go on, do it. I dare you. You’ll see.
Even though he’s tiny enough to fit quite snugly inside an egg cup, Parp gives off such an almighty whiff that you can usually track him down without any trouble. You could have the most terrible head cold with a nose that felt like it was filled with wet cotton wool, and you’d still smell him a good mile away.
Parp can be found inside the first Lairytale: Parp and the Secret Stink. I won’t read you any at the moment as you’ve probably not had your dinner. After all, nobody likes to think about bottom burps before they tuck into pizza and ice cream.
Imagine having a perfectly fine set of wings but being so lazy you can’t be bothered to flap them for yourself. A swarm of humblebugs keeps Ho Hum hovering when he nods off mid-flight.
Ho Hum’s lazy ways usually lead to trouble, especially with the other Lairies. You’ll see what I mean in the Lairytale, Ho Hum and the Bungled Birthday, when he gets on the wrong side of Violet.
The sparks really fly when Violet the Violent gets angry. Violet has a terrible temper that is triggered by the tiniest thing. If you notice Violet’s hair start to frizz, stand well back because her super short fuse has probably blown and the fireworks are about to erupt.
Violet’s temper has an unexpected consequence in the Lairytale Violet and the Screaming Silence.
Have you ever had that tingling feeling on the back of your neck, the one that makes you think you’re not alone even though there’s nobody about? If the hairs on your arms have stood up for no apparent reason, you might just have been spied on by the slyest Lairy in all of Wagglewood.
Sneeker makes everybody’s business his own. He can vanish into thin air in seconds, and isn’t afraid to use his ability to eavesdrop on private conversations and spread scandalous secrets.
In the Lairytake Sneeker and the Ghostly Gossip, Sneeker finds out what happens when you poke your nose into other Lairies’ business.
Peep and Bizzy are tiny twins who can be found anywhere they’ve been told not to go. Pulling rubbish out of the bin, rifling through your underwear drawer, even splashing in the toilet water. Gross.
This pair of pests can wriggle their way into every nook and cranny, all the dustiest corners and cobwebby hidey-holes.
Peep and Bizzy get caught with no way out, in the Lairytale Peep and Bizzy, and the Sticky Situation.
Watch your heads, more Lairies will be falling from the top of the tallest tree very soon.
Tested by Kids
Kids love with the flatulent Parp, the snoring Ho Hum, Violet’s violent temper, the seriously sly Sneeker and tricky twins, Peep and Bizzy.
As well as building interaction into the book and app, we also want to give our little illustrators the opportunity to share their designs with each other, in a safe and secure space.
AppyLab is a core team of three professionals, committed to innovation in design and technology. We are ably supported by consultants from the fields of education, marketing, software and publishing.
Lairytales is the first project that AppyLab is bringing to market.
This is Ali. Product and proposition development manager by day, writer by night. Vulnerable to taking on more than she can juggle. What she lacks in poker face she more than makes up for in big hair. Always available for a chat @sparklypips.
This is Designer Dan. He’s, err, a designer. So laid back he uses a sun lounger instead of an office chair, Dan is often mistaken for a lumberjack due to a penchant for plaid shirts.
Despite his fashion faus pax, Dan is pretty good at making things pretty. A social media lurker, you’ll find him @maxi_dan, just don’t expect a reply within 12 months.
Meet Kieron. Software engineer and bacon enthusiast. As well as being in the business of the acquisition and distribution of high fives, Kieron has tunnel-vision when it comes to learning new technology.
Often found drowning out the tinnitus with a pair of headphones and very loud music. Which caused the tinnitus in the first place.
Chat tech, cured meats and gaming with him over on @b33rdy.
Get in touch if you’re interested in finding out more about the Lairies or fancy joining in with the AppyLab experiment. We’d especially love to hear from you if you’re looking to invest in children’s tech or publishing, or you have expertise in Unity or book marketing.