Kiko Labs RSS Feed Kirby The latest updates from our blog We're thrilled to announce our partnership with Reflection Sciences blog/kiko-labs-partnership-reflection-sciences-school-readiness Fri, 03 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000 Reflection Sciences and Kiko Labs Partner to Pair Digital Tools to Measure and Improve School Readiness

Reflection Sciences, a education technology company founded by University of Minnesota researchers, and Kiko Labs, the San Francisco developer of Kiko's Thinking Time games, are partnering to provide schools a way to measure and improve school readiness.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (PRWEB) November 03, 2017

Research on school readiness has uncovered a link between the skill-set referred to as executive function and academic success in the early years and beyond. In fact, executive function skills are more predictive of success in school than traditional IQ tests.

What is executive function (EF)? EF refers to the neurocognitive skills that allow us to organize information, focus on tasks, control behavior, and think flexibly. These skills are essential for goal-directed control of attention, thought, emotion, and behavior – in other words, these skills provide a foundation for learning. Though unlike IQ, EF skills can be developed and learned through practice, especially in the early years of development.

The Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS) provided by Reflection Sciences is a scientifically valid and reliable game-like tablet measure of EF for ages 2 and up. It is being used by educators in 32 states to measure growth in EF and the effectiveness of teaching methods, curricula, and interventions.

According to Reflection Sciences’ Co-founder and CEO Stephanie Carlson, “We pride ourselves on having the first nationally normed objective measure of EF for preschool children, but caregivers also want solutions they can try to help improve children’s EF skills and prepare them to succeed in school. I am delighted to be able to recommend Kiko’s Thinking Time games as a natural complement to the MEFS.”

Kiko’s Thinking Time games were developed from a large body of scientific research. Each game is based on a neuropsychological task that is known to have cognitive benefits in lab studies. Kiko Labs turned these tasks into engaging games that children love to play.

The partnership between Kiko Labs and Reflection Sciences serves to provide schools and early childhood advocacy organizations with the tools to practice EF using Kiko’s Thinking Time games and concretely measure EF gains in student populations using the MEFS.

“While EF skills are critical for a child’s success in school, their development is not guaranteed,” said Grace Wardhana, Co-founder of Kiko Labs. “Kiko’s Thinking Time helps support these skills, which are so important to a child’s development and school readiness. We’re delighted to partner with Reflection Sciences to bring a complete solution to schools to help early learners build and measure the foundational skills for school success.”

Learn more about how pairing digital tools can help you measure and improve school readiness for your students.

Visit to learn more about how you can receive professional development and track EF skills in your students using the MEFS.

Visit to learn more about how Kiko’s Thinking Time games can help your students build skills foundational to cognitive learning.

About Kiko Labs:
Kiko Labs worked with neuroscientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard to develop Kiko's Thinking Time, an adaptive training program for early learners, aged 3 to 7. Kiko's Thinking Time uses a suite of activities to target skills foundational to cognitive learning and school readiness: executive function, reasoning, and spatial skills. Learn more at

About Reflection Sciences:
Founded by scientists at the University of Minnesota, Reflection Sciences provides training and tools for assessing executive function. Their Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS) is the first objective, scientifically-based, and normed direct assessment of Executive Function for ages 2 years and up – and it takes less than 5 minutes to complete. MEFS is a fun game for students, but it provides vital data for educators and parents. Learn more at

Reflection Sciences, info(at)
Kiko Labs, support(at)

Study shows that Pre-K students gain 4+ months in reasoning skills after using Kiko's Thinking Time blog/study-shows-that-pre-k-students-gain-4-months-in-reasoning-skills-after-using-kiko-s-thinking-time Fri, 30 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0000 In May and June 2016, WestEd, a leading not-for-profit educational research agency, conducted a study to determine the feasibility of using Kiko's Thinking Time in the classroom. The goal of the study was to determine the extent to which Kiko's Thinking Time can be used within the requirements and constraints of an authentic education setting, and to examine the promise of using the app to improve students’ cognitive skills.

Study Set Up
WestEd recruited two preschool sites serving low-income communities in the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in the study. A total of four preschool teachers (two per site) and 36 students participated in the study. Of the 36 students, 17 were four-year-olds and 19 were five-year-olds; 16 were male and 20 were female. Teachers were encouraged to incorporate Kiko's Thinking Time into their regular classroom routines, and had flexibility and choice in how the app was used in the classroom. Teachers were encouraged to have students engage with the app for 10-15 minutes per day, for three times a week, over the course of two weeks.

On average, students interacted with Kiko's Thinking Time for 60 minutes total during the study. At Site 1, each individual student play session averaged 15 minutes in length, and at Site 2, each individual play session averaged 11 minutes in length.

Researchers collected complete assessment data from 32 of the 36 students participating in the study to determine if use of Kiko's Thinking Time could lead to gains in students’ cognitive skills (specifically, in the domain of reasoning). After using the intervention, students’ overall scores on the WPPSI-IV Matrix Reasoning* subtest increased significantly from pre (M=8.25, SD=4.18) to post (M=10.38, SD=4.19); t=-4.05 (31), p<0.001. On the pre-assessment, students answered an average of 8.25 items correctly, while on the post- assessment, students answered an average of 10.38 items correctly – reflecting a 26% increase in the number of items answered correctly after using the intervention. This increase corresponds to a gain of 4.3 months on the Matrix Reasoning subtest from pre- to post-assessment.

*The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) Matrix Reasoning subtest was administered in a one-on-one session via a paper test booklet at the beginning and the end of the intervention. The Matrix Reasoning subtest involves fluid intelligence, broad visual intelligence, classification and spatial ability, knowledge of part-whole relationships, simultaneous processing, and perceptual organization.

ED Games Day in Washington DC blog/ed-games-day-at-the-white-house Fri, 22 Jan 2016 00:00:00 +0000 On December 8th, 2015, we were invited by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, along with a select group of 20+ developers, to participate in a session on Games for Assessment. The timing of this event could not have been more perfect. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act just that very morning gave everyone present a renewed zeal and commitment to their educational mission. In President Obama's words, "With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will."

We discussed the current state of the field of game-based learning and opportunities for researching and developing new assessment models and engines that can support teachers by providing real-time progress reports and insights on student mastery of content. Many promising ideas were exchanged around technology infrastructure, research validation methods and teacher training and support models.

For Kiko Labs, this session was followed by the opportunity for a one-on-one chat with Aadil Ginwala, Assistant Director for Education Innovation at the OSTP, during which we discussed the potential for a game-based learning program like Kiko's Thinking Time to be turned into a cognitive assessment tool for preschoolers. The current problem with assessments for this age group is that they are extremely time-consuming and expensive, often requiring time with a psychologist. But, given today's advancements - specifically in touchscreen devices, adaptive technology, new cognitive neuroscience research and user engagement, one could conceive of a tool that is delightful for children to use, gleaned important information about those hard-to-measure skills and that is relatively inexpensive to scale. The impact of such a tool could be immense - if there was a way to screen for critical deficits early on, we could intervene earlier. This means at-risk children could be attending better in class, starting positive cycles of engagement with peers and teachers earlier on, and maximizing their chances of getting on the trajectory towards school success. What could be more exciting than that?

Clearly, we have our work cut out for us in 2016! Stay tuned for more on this topic.

More information on ED Games Day events can be found on the Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education

We're thrilled to announce our partnership with Scientific Learning Corp! blog/announcing-our-partnership-with-scientific-learning-corporation Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000 The full text of the press release follows:.

Scientific Learning Corp. Partners with Kiko Labs to Help Pre-K Students Increase School Readiness

Kiko’s Thinking Time, a neuroscience-based learning solution for preschool students, targets memory, attention and cognitive skills to build school readiness

Every year, children enter school with vast differences in their preparedness for learning. In addition, research indicates that as early as 24 months, children in low-income families have been found to show lags in cognitive and behavioral development compared to their peers in higher-income families. To improve school readiness for prekindergarten learners, Scientific Learning Corp. (OTC PINK:SCIL) is teaming up with Kiko Labs to offer Kiko’s Thinking Time (

“We’re seeing a growing emphasis on early education, especially for children in poverty. As a result, many of our customers have been asking for a neuroscience-based solution for their pre-K learners,” said Robert C. Bowen, CEO of Scientific Learning. “We’re excited to offer Kiko’s Thinking Time to schools and districts because it’s a wonderful complement to the Fast ForWord® program for K-12 students. It takes the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience and turns them into adaptive games that help young learners have fun while sharpening their cognitive skills.”

Designed by Harvard and U.C. Berkeley neuroscientists, with support from the U.S. Department of Education, Kiko’s Thinking Time is a cognitive training program that targets the skills for school success, including memory, attention and key cognitive skills. Through this partnership, schools and districts can now purchase Kiko’s Thinking Time to provide a neuroscience-based learning solution for children ages 3 to 5 years old.

“While executive function and reasoning skills are critical for a child’s success in school, their development isn’t guaranteed. They can be impacted by socioeconomic status, demands on single parents or busy working families, as well as overburdened schools and teachers,” said Grace Wardhana, co-founder of Kiko Labs. “Kiko’s Thinking Time targets behaviors that train these skills, which are so important to a child’s development and school readiness. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to bring this program to schools and districts to help early learners build the foundational skills for school success.”

Kiko’s Thinking Time is accessible on the iPad® and is available for $2,000 per school for a one-year license.

For more information, visit

View source version on

Scientific Learning Corp.
Hallie Smith, 619-888-0887

Executive Function - The Foundation for School Readiness blog/executive-function-the-foundation-for-school-readiness Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:00:00 +0000 This article was published on Scientific Learning's blog.

Over the past few weeks, millions of children across the United States began kindergarten. Whether graduating from a full-day preschool or parent-led homeschool or something in between, children will transition into their first year of a formal school setting in various stages of school readiness. What will determine a successful transition? Research shows one foundational factor: executive function.

What is executive function? Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child defines executive function and self-regulation skills as “the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.”

To put this in a real-life classroom context: imagine 3 kindergarteners participating at circle time. Abby and James are focusing on the discussion and raise their hands to answer the teacher’s question. Michael is distracted, interrupts repeatedly and has a hard time remembering what to do. It is clear which of these children will be more successful at the learning activity, and the latest research links this with executive function skills.

There is a dramatic window for growth in executive function and other cognitive skills between the ages of 3 to 5. We know now that development of these skills is not guaranteed and children with problems do not necessarily outgrow them. Children who struggle to plan and organize their work in early elementary may become adolescents who fall behind in homework, have difficulty completing projects and struggle to gain academic skills. In particular, economically disadvantaged groups tend to suffer from under-development of these skills, which puts them behind even prior to entering elementary school. Severe under-development may also lead to behavioral problems and in some cases, failure in school, as many teachers are not trained to recognize or treat these problems effectively. This reinforces the ‘achievement gap’ that already exists for at-risk groups in underserved communities—since those with behavioral challenges are often kept out of classroom work, and in turn may have trouble attending when in class.

The potential impact for early intervention during the pre-school and early elementary years is huge. Identifying deficits and building executive function and cognitive skills at the age-appropriate time could alleviate problems faced by at-risk groups. If these children, for example, are increasingly able to attend to class material and participate in group lessons, they will benefit from increased learning as well as better relationships with teachers and peers. Rather than laying a foundation as children who are frequently struggling to participate, these children may begin a positive cycle of engagement with teachers and peers.

Thus, these skills are a necessary groundwork to the building of academic skills, rather than simply an add-on. On the bright side, science has shown these skills can be trained and improve even with short-term interventions. Researchers who specialize in childhood brain development are working to spread the word to help parents and caregivers through books like “Einstein Never Used Flashcards” and initiatives like Vroom and Mind in the Making. A tablet-based app, “Kiko’s Thinking Time” was developed with support from the US Department of Education to target executive function and other cognitive skills through fun, adaptive games.

The importance of building executive function and other cognitive skills at an early age is clear. We want children to build a strong foundation to become engaged and self-directed lifelong learners. We need to increase awareness of these skills and the potential for them to be explicitly taught by parents, caregivers and the educator community – whether it be through outreach programs, educational apps or other interventions. The sooner we make this a priority, the better equipped our communities will be to help children get the most out of their school experience.

Department of Education Awards Grant to Kiko Labs! blog/department-of-education-awards-grant-to-kiko-labs Tue, 05 May 2015 00:00:00 +0000 We are thrilled to announce that Kiko Labs has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award! This is a follow up to the Phase I grant that we received in 2014 from the Department of Education. We could not be happier with the strong validation of our concept and the support for our vision of transforming early learning through game-based cognitive training exercises.

With the Phase II grant, we plan to build on the success of our current product, Kiko’s Thinking Time, which in Phase I was tested for usability and feasibility in Pre-K and Kindergarten classrooms with very promising results. We will be developing new games, expanding to multiple platforms and adding more support for classroom scenarios. In addition, we are partnering with WestEd - a leading not-for-profit educational research firm - to conduct efficacy research using control groups and pre- and post-evaluative measures. The goal is to determine how Kiko’s Thinking Time influences executive function and reasoning skills, and how these impact the acquisition of early math and literacy.

We look forward to improving our product and sharing our findings with you. Look out for more news from us here!

More information:

Announcing our new app - Kiko's Thinking Time! blog/announcing-our-new-app-kikos-thinking-time Thu, 15 Jan 2015 15:27:16 +0000 FB-Banner

We're extremely thrilled to announce the arrival of our new app, Kiko's Thinking Time! We've been working feverishly around the clock to get everything just right for this launch. This app builds upon the success of our first product, Thinking Time, and includes substantially more content: 10 mini-games (up from the original 4) and a whole new engagement format which encourages kids to stick to a daily training regimen.

The full text of our press release follows below:

Kiko Labs Unveils New Neuroscience-Based App for Children to Challenge Critical Skills Every Child Needs for School Success
Through Adaptive Play Sessions, Kiko’s Thinking Time Does for the Preschool Brain What Exercise Does for the Preschool Body
Kiko Labs, alongside neuroscientists, today announced Kiko’s Thinking Time for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, a unique adaptive suite of games for children based on neuropsychological exercises to challenge the foundational skills needed for school success. By playing the app, children exercise critical skills like executive functions and reasoning in fun workouts.

As 90% of a child’s brain develops in the first 5 years of life, the early, formative years are the ones that matter most. Children with stronger working memory, inhibition and attentional skills have been found to make larger gains on tests of early math, language and literacy development. Early research shows promise that these skills can be trained. Kiko Labs collaborated with neuroscientists from Harvard and UC Berkeley, and with support from the U.S. Department of Education, to design Kiko’s Thinking Time from behaviors and evidence-based techniques drawn from scientific studies showing early promise in improving the critical cognitive skills related to learning capacity.

“At Kiko Labs, we believe that every child deserves to fulfill his or her potential. Our learning experience called Kiko’s Thinking Time is a training program designed to help them do that,” said Grace Wardhana, co-founder and CEO, Kiko Labs. “This app for children targets fundamental skills like executive functions and reasoning that are the necessary groundwork for learning in kindergarten and beyond. Our goal is to make mental exercises fun.”

About Kiko’s Thinking Time

In just 10 minutes, children aged 3 – 7 can go on a customized adventure with Kiko the Fox to help her in her quest for treasure. They play a series of 10 games where they meet cute animal characters in Kiko’s village and help them with their activities. Through fun mental exercise, children who play Kiko’s Thinking Time challenge skills like memory and focus that will help them become more attentive, focused learners in school.

After the child is finished playing, the app provides reporting tools for parents to chart progress over time.

“Kiko's Thinking Time gives kids training wheels to practice critical skills like working memory and reasoning. It does this by providing a structured environment, and by designing progression in a rigorous, hierarchical way.” – Dr. Jenny Thomson, neuroscientist, former associate professor, Harvard University

Reaction from Parents, Teachers, Clinicians

Today’s announcement builds upon a successful beta version of Kiko’s Thinking Time, which recorded nearly 700,000 sessions of training activity. The response from children, their parents, teachers and clinicians has been impressive:

  • "It is a great mix of a playing and learning app - it includes the perfect skills while keeping kids interested.” – Rebecca Brian, parent of three
  • “Every classroom should have this app. I think it is wonderful and will really benefit the classroom. The data is excellent and will help me lead my instruction.” – Jaquetta Wallace, head teacher, Oakland Unified School District
  • "I am an ABA therapist and work with a variety of children on the autism spectrum. I have been using it with my clients to help them improve their focus, ability to switch between tasks, etc. I find it very useful and I love that they enjoy it as a game!” – Yohanka Allen, clinician

Availability and Pricing

Kiko’s Thinking Time is available for free in the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch or at When parents are ready for more content they can upgrade for unlimited access to all 10 games and a new game added monthly for $7.99/month or $49.99/year.

Follow Kiko’s Thinking Time at Kiko Labs

About Kiko Labs

Since 2013, Kiko Labs has been creating adaptive games for children based on neuroscience. The company came out of the edtech accelerator co.lab created by and NewSchools Venture Fund, and is also backed by 500 startups, the SBIR grant from the U.S. Dept of Education, and angel investors, including Guitar Hero co-founder Kai Huang. The new Kiko’s Thinking Time is a neuroscience-based app designed to challenge cognitive learning skills such as memory, focus and reasoning, the necessary groundwork for learning in kindergarten and beyond. Download Kiko’s Thinking Time for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Learn more:

*Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University

We're finalists in Verizon's Powerful Answers Award competition! blog/were-finalists-in-verizons-powerful-answers-award-competition Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:43:41 +0000 Where in the World is Innovation in Education? Verizon announces 2014 finalists in Powerful Answers Award’s Education category.

Kiko Labs is so excited and honored to be selected as one of 10 finalists for the Verizon’s 2014 Powerful Answers Award! As we emerge as finalists from over 1870 submissions from 78 countries, we are further encouraged and enthusiastic about our vision and product. We wish to thank Verizon for extending its support to entrepreneurs in the field of education and helping us be a change agent.

Here is the announcement from Verizon.

We're featured in a case study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center! blog/were-featured-in-a-case-study-by-the-joan-ganz-cooney-center Mon, 08 Sep 2014 04:13:47 +0000 The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is tracking various companies designing educational games; exploring their design processes, lessons learned, funding woes, strategic business decisions, and research findings. This initiative is featured on Games and

We are grateful for the experience of sharing our story and the opportunity to give a glimpse into our background, process and experiences in the journey so far. For details, please read below for part 1 of a multi-part case study on Kiko Labs:

Kiko Labs wins SBIR grant from Department of Education blog/kiko-labs-wins-sbir-grant-from-department-of-education Mon, 30 Jun 2014 04:03:05 +0000 Kiko Labs among 12 awardees of a grant by Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) for Fiscal Year 2014!

We're honored to be one of the 12 businesses to be awarded a grant through the Department of Education's SBIR program in 2014. The program is a highly competitive program that encourages domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) that has the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization.

Thanks to the grant, we will be able to invest in additional content expansion, and conduct usability and feasibility testing in schools in partnership with WestEd, a leading educational research and development agency. We are so excited about the improvements we will make to our product and greatly appreciate the support from SBIR in helping us make this leap.

We look forward to sharing these improvements with you in our next release!