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Big Cat Phonics

Collins Education

Collins needed a tool that would help them deliver phonics resources to primary schools.



Educational publisher Collins is the third largest educational publishing house in the UK. They specialise in providing print and interactive digital projects for primary and secondary school teachers.


The main challenge facing this project, was generating phonics lessons that’d appeal to Collins’ primary school audience, and that would be engaging enough to hold the attention of entire classes at a time.

Since this lesson generator and delivery tool would be used across multiple schools and classrooms, it had to be capable of generating phonics lessons that were suitable for all sorts of different classes. This meant our system couldn’t simply deliver ready-made lessons or activities for students to work through; it had to be capable of carefully monitoring each class’s progress and then generating a custom lesson each day, based on this information.

The Solution

In response to these requirements, we developed Big Cat Phonics, a unique delivery tool and lesson generator.

To appeal to Collins’ specific audience, we used Collins’ familiar Big Cat character plus new companion Snappy, an original character designed by Can Studios.

We also designed our system to generate lessons that are suitable for a younger audience, who typically have a shorter attention span. The finished product generates a daily 10 minute whiteboard session of sounds, words and sentences. To help keep entire classes engaged throughout, our system also uses animated characters to lead students through these short sessions.

To ensure the work Big Cat Phonics generates is suitable for each specific class, we designed it to track the words and phonemes the class had practiced so far, and then dynamically combine thousands of sound elements to create a completely custom lesson based on this information.

To ensure the generated lessons remain perfectly-suited to each class, we also designed the delivery system to automatically adjust the level of support provided by the animated characters, as students become familiar with each new sound. We also gave teachers the ability to manually refine the support level and vocabulary settings for a particular class.

Since Big Cat Phonics breaks the phonics curriculum into 10 minute segments, we also needed to provide students with a way to consolidate and recap what they’d learned over a period of time. Keeping Collins’ target audience in mind, we created a series of bonus games based around pirates, space, fairy tales and music themes. To add variety to these games and make them more suitable for the classroom environment, students can play these games alone or as part of a team with an adult keeping score.


Our Big Cat Phonics program has helped primary school children master the essential building blocks of the English language. By creating a system that generates short, easily-digestible lessons led by animated characters, we were able to create an engaging educational resource that’s suitable for primary school children.

By creating a system that generates work based on the exact phonemes the class has practised so far, we ensured that Big Cat Phonics is capable of educating classes spanning a wide range of abilities, and with varying degrees of previous phonics experience.

“Can Studios have worked with Collins Education on a number of interactive elearning projects for use in the schools market. On all occasions we have found them to be an excellent organisation to work with, contributing innovative and creative ideas to the development process. We look forward to working with them again in the future.”

— Nick Measures
, Managing Editor – Digital Learning
, Collins Education