Friday, December 7, 2012

Apps for Getting Children to Converse

Sometimes it can be a challenge to engage children in conversation. One of the ways I have done so is to use what I call conversational materials. Generally, I look to these products when it is time for the child to integrate what she has learned into conversation. These materials encourage children to verbally interact with me. Now there are apps that can be used to do the same. I have 14 apps that I have categorized as conversation apps. Rather than blog about them all at once, I will discuss two in this post and two at a time in subsequent posts.


         

What’s Different: These first apps ask the child to identify which picture is different. These apps can also be used for same and different concept learning. Four pictures are presented at the bottom of the screen. One of them is different from the rest. The child moves the one that is different into a box on the right side of the screen. When using this app, I would ask the child to talk about why the picture is different from the other three. One could extend the task and talk about why the other three pictures are the same.
Ages: Levels 1---ages 3-5, Level 3---ages 4-6
Ratings: ++
Developer website: myfirstapp.com
Cost: Lite version has eight different series and is free. A set of 12 for each level can be purchased for $1.99 

 Capture d’√©cran iPad 4

Spot the Differences: I like this app a lot.  I have always liked the challenge of finding what is different in scenes. Wasn’t it the Highlight magazine in doctors’ offices that had us finding hidden objects and scene differences to distract us from the sound of the drill or other children crying when they got their shots?
In this app, two seemingly identical scenes appear side-by-side on the screen. Differences can be found when one compares the details in the scenes. When one finds a difference in each attractively presented cartoon scene, one taps on the scene and a yellow check mark appears accompanied by a ding. If one taps and there is no difference, a red X appears accompanied by a buzz. There are seven differences in each scene. Explaining what is different between the scene’s characters and objects is the conversational task. There are easy, medium and difficult levels for each scene. I tried the difficult level and found that finding some of the differences was challenging.  Another way to use this app is to ask the child to describe the scenes and then talk about what they would do if they were there.

This app can be set to any one of the following languages: English, French, Portugese, and Italian.
Ages: Easy level---ages 4-6, medium level---ages 4-7, difficult level---ages 7+
Ratings: ++++
Developer website: paddix.com
Cost: Lite version has two different scenes and is free. A complete set of 15 can be purchased for $1.99.



Monday, November 5, 2012

A Good App for Who, What, Where, and When Questions



Questions2Learn was developed by speech pathologist Leanne Pool. Working on who, what, where and when questions is made easy using this app. I like the way the app systematically works on the comprehension of these four questions. The app offers four levels that differ only in the number of pictures from which to select when responding to the narrator’s question. There are three pictures presented for Level 1, four for Level 2, five for Level 3 and no pictures for Level 4, thus requiring a verbal answer. The user listens to the narrator’s statement and then taps on the correct picture. The app can be used without adult supervision but it is probably best to supervise. That is because the child can eventually get to the right answer by randomly selecting pictures. The app questions are categorized into school, home, food and drink, community and health. One can modify the category and type of question in settings. Additionally, one has the option of modifying and customizing questions and images. Thus, one can tailor the app to a particular student, school curriculum or subject by inserting the relevant pictures and narration. 

The reward for selecting the correct photograph is a screen that shows one of Ms. Pool’s brown or black labs accompanied by verbal praise. The app offers data collection and group use of up to four students. I like the specifics of the data collected. It shows the date, level, category and whether or not a visual prompt was used. The data for the number of correct responses is shown in percentages for each “wh” question. Thus, life is made a bit easier when inputting information on progress notes, IEPs, and all those other forms we love to hate. 

The full version of the app offers 262 questions and an unlimited number of students entered into the database.  The lite version offers 20 questions (five of each question type), data collection for three students and limitations on the customization features.

I have awarded this app 2 ½ pluses. The app would have been rated higher if there had been animation, more interactivity, and a more appealing reward.

Ages: 4-8
Ratings: ++1/2
Developer website: speechpups.com
Cost: $9.99, Lite version is free