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Review: Word SLapPs Vocabulary


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Word SLapPs aims to promote the learning of basic vocabulary to children with difficulties in language acquisition. The application allows the child to learn, at their own pace, specific vocabulary that they can load. Images and sounds of their own can be added to customize the application.

Word SLapPs is designed by language pathologists (SLP) on the model of discrete trial, and is similar in design to Color SlapPs, already analyzed in iAutism.

Settings
Upon entering Word SLapPs, we are presented the main menu where we find the various links that allow you to configure the app and start directly the activity.

The orange button with two wheels allows you to set up six options: “Number of turns”, to choose between 5, 10 or 15 consecutive exercises that the child should respond; “Practice Mode”, that allows you to choose automatic or manually screen switching once completed an exercise; “Question Prompt”, to choose the presentation format for the demand –written or verbal–; “Incorrect Response”, which allows you to choose if you should see a visual aid or just repeat the demand after a wrong answer; “Correct Response”, to set the correct response result –sound and visual effects–; and, finally, “Choose theme/visuals”, which gives access to the purchase of two additional image packs (vehicles and farm).

Also in this screen, the icon labeled “Edit/Add Content” allows you to add images (from your gallery), assigning a name and recording an audio clip for each of them and organizing them into categories that also can be defined.

Back to the main menu, we also find a green button with a ‘%’ symbol that shows the scores for the different times you have used Word SLapPs. If you select a session, it shows the score as well as the errors that were taken.

Also in the main menu, the “Categories” icon gives access to all those categories that have been set previously. Once selected the one with which you want to work, subcategories associated with that appear. Once in the subcategories screen, you can select images to work by selecting them all at once or one at a time.

Also in the main screen you can choose between six levels of difficulty. So at level one, only an image will appear in each exercise on which to respond, at level two there will be two images, and so on until the maximum difficulty level six with six images per screen.

Exercises
Once you have made all settings, you can start the exercises by touching the yellow flower labeled with “PLAY”. A working screen will appear, which is what the child will use, doing series of 5, 10 or 15 exercises in which they must touch one of the objects on the screen. In this screen there will always be an option, in the top left, to return to the main menu.

In each exercise, you will see categories of selected objects and the number of units according to the chosen level. You will hear a voice, or a text will be written at the top of the screen as configured in advance, indicating the image that must be found between the ones showed in the screen.

Once a block of exercises is received, a visual and auditory reward reinforces the work done.

And, once finished the series, an orange box appears showing the total score and the errors made. This final screen also allows you to start another round of exercises.

If the child does not respond, the same demand is repeated. And in situations where the child responds incorrectly, the demand will also be repeated along with a visual aid is the specific setting was activated.

Assessment
Word SLapPs is the ideal way to introduce the first vocabulary for anyone, whether he/she is a person with learning disabilities or not. However, for its design and usability it can really be a useful tool for children with difficulties.

One of the strengths of Word SLapPs is that the presentation of demands is very clear and neutral. This facilitates learning for children with difficulties.

A second noteworthy aspect of Word SLAPPs is the option of adding your own pictures, so you work on those categories that are most useful for the child. This also allows adapting the application to any language.

Regarding the consequence that Word SLAPPs shows when an answer is given, we see as positive that the app considers a non-response as an incorrect answer. Tha adult can also define the type of consequence that will be shown after a wrong answer, including giving a visual aid that can help the child to discriminate more easily when they are wrong. But perhaps it should incorporate a visual aid on the right image and not just the appearance of a cross over the incorrectly chosen image. For example, it would be great that the right picture stood out from the rest. Regarding the consequences given to a correct answer, the fact of incorporating not only a visual but also an audio effect makes the child more motivated to continue.

Finally, we would also like to highlight the numerous settings that can be adjusted to modify the exercises. For sure, these options will help a lot to adapt the exercises to the learning difficulties of each child.

-Aida Farrés, Noemi Quibus, Neus Fibla and Sílvia Sáez are coordinators at Fundación Planeta Imaginario

Word
Links: iTunes
Company: Zorten Software
Languages: English
Functions: Receptive language learning.
Versions: Only for iPad
Price: $4.99 / €3.99; image packs are $0.99 / €0.79

 


Review: Look Again Jr


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Look Again Jr is an app focused on early learning and stimulation. It can be useful for any child, but it can be especially useful for working with children with special educational needs. It will help you teach them, in a very visual and intuitive way, logic reasoning, the association of concepts, spatial abstraction, mental arithmetic and, in general, the attention.

Firsts steps
With a very friendly presentation and a correct functioning, Look Again Jr consists of a train of activity sheets sorted by levels, from level 1 to level 120.

After launching the application and wait for the initial screen to disappear, you can choose between two animals. The chosen one will identify you over all the activities and achievements.

Once you choose a pet, you will the main screen, from which you access the different sections of the application.

The “Play” cloud, as the word itself suggests, leads you to the activities, starting from the level that you have indicated in “Choose Level”. As you surpass the proposed activity, the level will increase.

From the “Choose Level” screen you can choose at what level of complexity you want to start (1 to 120).

In the “My Stickers” section you will find the awards or reinforces that you get through the successful completion of various activities. Approximately every 4 activities performed correctly the application rewards the player with a sticker. These stickers are stored and accessible at any time here.

Finally, in the “Instrucctions” section the app shows a screen with instrucciones about the basic operation of the application. Look Again Jr is very intuitive, so for many parts of it you do not need to read any manual. However, it is always desirable to have this kind of information inside the app.

Activities
The operation of the application is very simple. Activities vary, but the mechanics of the application is always the same. Each activity is resolved by selecting a number of items placed in the margins of the image, being the central image the pattern or model for the activity.

At the top of the screen a number indicates the level at which you are and, on the right side, how many items you have to select to properly resolve the activity. You also have a direct access to the help screen and another shortcut to the main screen labeled “Main Menu”.

Once successfully done the activity, your pet appears in the game, inviting you to participate in the next activity, explaining what the next challenge to solve will be.

There are many types of activities, involving geometric shapes…

puzzles…

… as well as colors, dices, simple calculations or geometric figures. The activities allow you to work with different concepts and adapt easily to different cognitive levels and cultures. However, from level 31 there are some exercises based on calculate amounts of money that use images of US coins and notes, so children from other countries could find these exercises more difficult to do or, at least, less meaningful for them.

The application is only in English, which is not a problem in general, except just for the above activities.

Conclusions
Look Again Jr works well and allows us to work different areas from the same app. The activities are original and effective. The app uses reinforces –stickers– to add stimulus, something that many other learning apps lack. Given that the app is universal, ie it works on iPod touch, iPhone and iPad, and their price does not reach 1 dollar, I believe that it is worth to take a look at it.

-Iván

Look
Links: iTunes
Company: Smappsoft
Languages: English
Functions: Learning, including logic reasoning, association of concepts, and mental arithmetic.
Versions: Only one for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
Price: $0.99 / €0.79

 


Review: Tam & Tao in Numberland


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Numberland is an app designed to facilitate the learning of numbers 0 to 9 in a simple and enjoyable way. Its aim is to aid the auditory recognition of numbers, as well as the child’s ability to write them and count objects. This application also helps children associate quantities with the relevant number.

Numberland has been designed by Montessori educators, whose method focuses on the child’s autonomy, whilst promoting self-esteem. They have aimed to create an application which the child can utilize in order to learn in an easy and intuitive way.

Functional description
Upon opening Numberland, a main menu appears from which the various activities offered by the application can be accessed, together with icons allowing the user to select the language in which they wish to work (English, Spanish and French)

The first option on the main menu is to add an email address in case you wish to receive information about new applications by Les Trois Elles.

The “1, 2, 3, let’s play!” icon displays a screen with the numbers from 0 to 9, as well as the icons for changing the language. Each of the numbers takes you to the main screen of the various exercises you can do with that specific number. All numbers except 0 offer the same exercises, each using different visual effects and backgrounds.

When the user clicks on any of the numerical icons, a landscape appears showing a boy and a girl together with the relevant number. The girl’s voice asks questions about the chosen number and elements of the landscape. When a number is selected it fades away and then slowly reappears showing the outline that needs to be followed in order to write it. Other exercises can be accessed by selecting on the other characters that appear on screen.

Selecting the girl takes us to a screen where the user can work with numbers of objects associated to a number. In this exercise, as with the previous one, the girl provides verbal indications and an example of how to count the boxes by moving the finger over the screen. When the box is touched the user hears the corresponding number. The user is congratulated when they complete the exercises correctly. In the top right-hand corner of this screen there is an arrow which, when selected, will allow the user to repeat the exercise. In the top left-hand corner, there is a cross which exits the exercise, taking the user back to the previous screen.

By clicking on the icon of the boy the user can learn to write the numbers. The outline of a number marked by arrows appears on the left-hand side of the screen, providing the user with a guide for writing the number. The right-hand side of the screen is left blank so that the user can draw the number unaided. Different colours are available for drawing the number, as well as an eraser. A camera icon allows the user to capture the image on screen, saving it directly to the image gallery. As with the previous screen, the user can repeat the exercise.

When the user selects the number 0, numbers from 0 to 9 appear onscreen and are accompanied by an audio countdown.

Next, a landscape appears featuring the characters and the number 0. In one exercise involving the number 0, when the icon showing the girl is selected, each of the numbers is displayed with a box underneath and a varying number of sticks. The user must place the groups of sticks in the box displaying the corresponding number. When the exercise is completed, an audio message congratulating the user can be heard.

Other activities
You can also access two more activities from the main menu. The first activity is ‘Draw’, that offers a blank canvas on which the child can draw. Again, there is a selection of colours and an eraser, and a camera icon for capturing the image and saving it directly to your gallery.

The second activity is ‘Count’. This offers a similar exercise to that described for the number 0, in which all the numbers are linked to boxes in which the user must place the corresponding number of sticks.

Finally, back to the main menu, there is a “note for parents” icon which gives access to information about the application.

Assessment
Numberland is an application which is visually very appealing to children. The aim of the application is to allow the user to learn about numbers in an enjoyable way. In order to use it the child must be able to draw and possess a level of verbal comprehension that allows them to follow the instructions given on each screen. A basic knowledge of numbers is also required.

Whilst its main aim is to teach about numbers, the application is also enjoyable for the child. They can explore the objects that appear on the different screens along with their associated sound and visual effects.

There are several options on each screen which allow the user to interact with the objects and characters in an intuitive way. Each action leads to alternatives being suggested, thus enabling the user to discover the multiple possibilities offered by the app.

One element used to encourage learning about numbers is the visual or verbal praise given when the child responds correctly. Likewise, when the child does not answer the question it is repeated.

In some of the Numberland activities there is no notification that the child has answered a question incorrectly, nor any support to enable the child to find the correct answer. For example, in the exercise in which the child has to follow the outline of a number and then draw it by themselves, there is no indication that they have done so correctly. In this case, an adult presence is required to facilitate learning, offering support and confirmation as to whether the child has completed the task correctly or not.

However, more support is offered to the user in the rest of the application’s exercises. In some this is given verbally through the provision of an instruction, which the child must follow in order to solve the problem. In other cases the number of onscreen elements providing potential answers is limited so as to ensure the user can only use those elements that will lead to a solution.

It is also important to point out that the application can be enjoyed in three different languages: English, Spanish and French.

-Aida Farrés, Neus Fibla, Noemi Quibus and Sílvia Sáez are clinical coordinators at Fundación Planeta Imaginario.

Tam
Links: iTunes
Company: Les Trois Elles Interactive
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Functions: Learn about numbers (0 to 9).
Versions: Only for iPad.
Price: $1.99 / €1.59

 


Review: Making Sequences


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Making Sequences is an application designed especially to teach the sequence of a story or to help children learn the steps to follow to complete a task. It achieves this by using a graphic story divided into parts.

The application already contains some image sequences to work with, but you can create your own sequences and add voice and text messages to them. As a result, “Making Sequences” can be used to teach daily living skills in a personalized and enjoyable way, as you can include user images in the stories. In addition, you can use the application to work on short social stories.

Functional Description
Upon entering the application, you find the home page represented by a cork where the different options are attached.

First, there are four options that have informative and communicative roles. They are:

  • The information icon, which redirects you to the section related to Making Sequences at Zorten Software’s website.
  • Under the cork you can see the inscription “Questions, comments or need help?” that leads to the contact page of the same website.
  • “More apps by Zorten Software”, that shows you other applications of Zorten Software.
  • And, represented by a pen, the option of sending a recommendation of the application by mail.

The other options, larger and more visible, are those related to the application’s main functionality. You can choose to enter each in the order you want.

We chose to click on the “Choose Sequences” option first. It allows you to choose the subjects (ie, sequences) to use after for the exercises. You can use them all or choose only those that most interest you. There are a total of fifteen sequences, having each one between three and five elements.

Once selected the sequences, we went to “Place in Order”. With this option, you practice the exercise itself. It immediately presents you a sequence to sort. You can set the text and audio of each of the sequences from which to work, and you can choose whether you want that text to appear and the audio to be played or not.

Also, in the same settings menu, located at the top right of the screen, you can choose that images appear with a number on the top to indicate its position within the sequence. This option can be useful in case we need help to solve some of the sequences.

If you have selected all the topics that contains the application, they are presented to us at random, which means that the order will not respond to the same ranking criteria or number of elements.

Given these observations, you can begin to put the sequence following the logical order of occurrence. Dragging each image to its correct position does this. For now, no signal will tell you if the sequence is ordered or not.

Once we have finished the exercise, you know the result by clicking the “Done” button. A verbal message will indicate if the sequence is correct or not. In the event that you have not done well, you can repeat the exercise inmediately, either by correcting the previously proposed order or by clicking “Shuffle” and starting to work on the sequence again. If your practice has been good, you will get a verbal compliment.

One thing to comment on these exercises is that, whether your answer is right or wrong, you have the option to use the other icons on the screen at any time. Thus if you want, you can click on the following options:

  • “Shuffle” to shuffle the images again and so they are presented in a different order.
  • “New sequence”, which serves to move into a new sequence, so you can repeat the above process with a different exercise.
  • “Go back”. With this icon, go to the previous exercise.
  • “Listen to Story”, with which the elements of the sequence will be extended one to one in the order we have proposed and a voice will tell what happens in each image.

The last option in the main menu Making Sequences is “Edit / Add” with which we can create new sequences. For this we must ascribe a name and create it from the images that we choose and which may be accompanied by text and audio.

Assessment
Making Sequences is an app with a very clear purpose: to be a support tool for all those children needing help in understanding the logical and typical order in which events occur. Like its purpose, its content and structure are also very clear. The presentation of the exercises is simple and the images are not confusing, which is basic to understanding each sequence and get correct answers.

Another very positive aspect of the application is the possibility of creating your own sequences. Not just because you can create a wider range of units to work, but also because it will allow you to generalize them using different backgrounds, images, characters, etc. both familiar and unknown to the user. In addition, this option could be used to create new sequences based on the existing ones, modifying their level of difficulty depending on the child’s ability.

We assess positively the fact that there are no exercises help camouflaged, ie no visual or sound effect that gives you clues about whether you have placed one of the images right or wrong. You will know if they are right or wrong only when you click on the “Done” button. If you have done the job properly, the app will congratulate you. Otherwise, you will be invited to repeat the exercise, though without providing any help, so you’ll have to try to do the exercise again without knowing where have you failed and what to do to correct it. The latter would be a nice improvement, because for optimal learning we must avoid repeating errors that may confuse and frustrate the child.

However, we believe this application is useful and beneficial for children to learn, practice and get experience in identifying the main parts of a situation, grasp the logic of events and know how to sort them.

-Fundación Planeta Imaginario

Making
Links: iTunes
Company: Zorten Software
Languages: English
Functions: To teach sequencing stories or learn the steps to follow to complete a task.
Versions: One for the iPad.
Price: $4.99 / €3.99