Monday, January 20, 2014

Verb Fun Home Run

Fun with Verbs and Sentences: by Patti Hamaguchi. When I review apps, I look for its ease of overall use, the way it approaches therapy for its targeted area, how it meets the goal, the fun and interest value for children, the level of interactivity and the usefulness for the speech pathologist or how much easier it makes our lives. This one is another Hamaguchi home run.

Fun with Verbs and Sentences focuses on the present progressive “is” and regular and irregular past tenses that can be learned and practiced at three levels, called sentence types: verbs only, subject + verb, subject + verb + object, subject + verb + prepositional phrase or random selection of all the preceding. One also is offered the subject choices of pronouns he/she or nouns.

To play, the child selects the “who,” by tapping one of three characters, a boy, girl or bear, to demonstrate the actions. Next, the child selects one of three actions displayed. If the subject + verb + object or subject + verb + prepositional phrase sentence types was chosen the child chooses one of three objects or places. For each selection tapped, the narrator names the word. Each who, what and where selection then drops to the bottom of the screen and is embedded in a colored circle. These circles can be used as reinforcement later. On the next screen the student's selections come together to demonstrate the verb. At the bottom of the animation screen are the three colored circles. Tap once on a circle on the bottom of the screen and the embedded icon reappears. Tap again and the narrator names the picture. A secondary learning experience occurs for who and what comprehension. When the narrator asks the child to select the who, and what she says, “Who will be in it,” “What do you want the ____to do?” The pictures and animations for this app are excellent. The opportunity for the child to use the verbs occurs when student taps the microphone to record her sentence.

One might wonder, as I did, how well the animations portray the present, on-going movement, versus the past, a completed action, for the same verb. I was pleased to see the app handle this well. The animation for the present tense repeats itself until the Done button is tapped. The animation for the past tense occurs only once.

Data collection takes place when the child records her phrase.  To the left of the animation are three egg shaped colors. The top contains the word Subject, the second the word Verb and the third, “Prep. Phrase.” The adult taps the part of speech correctly said by the child. The score is shown below the shape as the number correct out of the number presented and in percentage. At the bottom is the “Overall Sentence Score.” The database for this app allows for 75 users to be tracked, individually or as part of a group.

The Settings screen allows one to select the Activities (Build a Sentence + Animation) or Watch & Say (recording page only) and if the activity automatically or manually moves to the next screen, Sentence Type), Track Progress, Verbs, the type of Cueing (visual or support and/or narration) and the frequency of the reward called the Bubble Game (the child taps bubbles until he/she finds a prize). One can turn text, recording and narration on or off as well. One can customize the verbs to be presented. However, Ms. Hamaguchi explained, “There needs to be at least three selected if you are in the ‘Build a Sentence’ mode because that is how the game is played. If you go into the other activity, there is no constraint in terms of having a minimum of choices and it will show whichever ones you want to practice. So if you want to show animations of  'paint,' select 'paint' and you can practice that—past or present tense. That is the customization.” The presentation of one or two verbs, comes with a fun animation of subjects demonstrating the action.

The narration is excellent for the most part. However, when the narrator said the sentence in its entirety, after clearly naming each picture associated with the circle, it was said quickly and at times was a bit garbled. Sometimes the verb was modeled using the whole word “is” and sometimes in the contracted form. This could be problematic for a child having difficulty with verb construction.

There are 39 verbs offered in this app as well as 266 well-done animations.
Ages: 2-5
Rating: +++++
Developer's website:
Cost: $15.99, $.99 for the Lite Version