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Lola’s Magic Cube


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Another application from Beiz, which also sells Lola’s Alphabet Train, a learning app that I reviewed in this blog and that surprised me for its originality. Now, Beiz offers a more leisure-oriented app, as it is a puzzle. But besides entertaining, Lola’s Magic Cube brings up the opportunity to work on abstraction and spatial orientation. Believe it or not, to train these skills is very useful for children with special educational needs.

Launching

At first, after a short presentation based on pictures, you can see a screen to choose the difficulty level, but with the limitation that you can only select a higher level of difficulty when you have shown enough ability using the previous level. Selecting a range of ages for each level in this case is not possible, because it will depend more on the cognitive level of each child that on their age.

Once you have chosen the difficulty level, a cube appears rotating on itself, inviting us to select one of the 6 puzzles on it. You can rotate the cube with a finger to check each of the puzzles and it is noteworthy that the motion is quite natural and very appealing. For the easy level, the puzzles are made of four pieces.

Once selected the puzzle by clicking on it, all the pieces appear disordered so you can start to mount the puzzle in an orderly manner. Note that in the lower right corner of the screen you have a map and a hint of how each piece has to be laid. This is an aid very useful and a way to help new players to practice following a map to build something, in a sort of imitation practice.

ECML_02

Clicking on each piece you make it to rotate 90 degrees clockwise and dragging it with the finger you can relocate it.

ECML_03

With these two movements and following the map, you’ll able to place each piece into its right position and finish the puzzle.

ECML_04

Once we have successfully completed enough puzzles in the first level, you can select the medium difficulty level. The most difficult level remains locked with a padlock waiting for us to be able to solve enough medium-level puzzles. At the medium level each puzzle has 9 pieces, but the mechanics to solve the puzzles is the same.

ECML_06

An interesting detail in Lola’s Magic Cube is that once completed the puzzle correctly, a series of visual and sound effects are reproduced. This is a stimulus, reward or positive reinforcement.

ECML_07

In short, Lola’s Magic Cube is an original way of entertaining with puzzles, with the added difficulty of having to rotate each piece independently and with the advantage of being able to adapt the difficulty level of each child according to their cognitive abilities.

-Iván

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Lola’s Magic Cube 1.1

Web: http://www.beiz.com

Company: BeiZ, Ltd

Languages: English, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Spanish

Functions: Leisure, spatial skills training.

iPhone/iPod touch version: Yes.

iPad version: Yes (HD).

Price: Lite version is free; full version costs $1.99 / €1.59 for the iPad and $0.99 / €0.79 for the iPhone.

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Review: My First Songs


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Today we review My First Songs, an entertainment app, such as Kids Song Machine (also discussed in this blog). These kind of apps enhance one of the most important facets of iPad: entertainment.

In the complex world of children with special educational needs, parents often feel the lack of a tool or a strategy to help them with the leisure time of their children, or some times even those parents need time for themselves. On the other hand, visits to the doctor or waiting at the salon can be alleviated if we have any such app.

If you suffer any of these situations frequently, without really knowing what to do, keep reading.

Launching the application

When we start, the main screen allows us to go to the application help, which explains us the mechanics of the game, and to the direct access to the different game scenarios.

FirstSongs1 [640x480]

From the Help menu, and in a very simple way, My First Songs give us information about how works the game, which in any case does not have any difficulty.

Scenarios

The application consists of four scenarios, including a total of 15 songs. From each scenario you can choose the song you want to play.

Below you can see the first scenario. By clicking on any of the items shown, My First Songs will play the song associated with it.

FirstSongs2 [640x480]

The second scenario:

FirstSongs3 [640x480]

The third scenario:

FirstSongs4 [640x480]

And the fourth scenario:

FirstSongs5 [640x480]

During the playback of songs, 3 different types of elements appear and move along a bar at the bottom of the screen. These elements, depending on the type, will require some action and, in turn, that action will give us points which will be shown on the scoreboard at the top of the screen. Thus:

- Blue circle: You must hit only once on them.

- Orange bar: You should keep your finger on it.

- Purple bar: You must make the gesture of a circle on it.

In any case, the use of these gestures to enjoy the application is optional and its only purpose is to get more points at the end of the game. When the age, the abilities or the motor skills of the child does not permit to do that, you can skip this part of the activity without losing any functionality or fun.

Funny animations and music

Actually, the animations are the key to the success of My First Songs. The music is very important in applications for children with special educational needs: it entertains and relaxes. On the other hand, animations, funny and very showy, will maintain the attention.

FirstSongs6 [640x480]

Although the static images shown in this post does not convey all the attractiveness of the application, the animations played on the iPad are truly striking for children.

FirstSongs7 [640x480]

One step further

Although from my point of view My First Songs is sufficiently attractive thanks to its musical animations, it is also useful for stimulating attention and exercising motor skills. It’s just trying to accumulate points by interacting with the elements described by doing some gestures. This activity will be rewarded with a trophy at the end of the game. Anyway, as I said, this is something totally optional and does not impede to enjoy the app.

An iPod in your pocket with My First Songs can relieve those moments waiting in the post office, when the patience of your child has to go beyond the usual limits, and an explanation is not sufficient to understand the situation.

-Iván

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My FirstSongs 1.3

Web: www.myfirstsongs.com

Developer: RingzeroGame Studio

Languages: English

Functions: Entertainment, attention and motor skills.

iPhone/iPodTouch version: Yes.

iPad version: Yes.

Price: $2.99 / €2.39.

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