Monday, October 24, 2011

ClickySticky Halloween

ClickySticky Halloween, like others in its series, is a visual exploration and simple picture creation app (for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) that offers a lot of fun and language-building opportunities for its small price of $1.99.  The app has four visual scenes to choose from and complete in different ways, allowing for many repeat visits: the (grave)yard of a haunted house, a pumpkin to decorate, a collection of "treats," and kids to dress up in Halloween costumes. Each scene has engaging animations, such as bubbling potions or hovering ghosts.

Once pictures are created, they can be saved to the picture roll or emailed. The therapy uses of such an app are many and varied, and a few I have targeted include:
-Eliciting causals in the context of selecting halloween treats and costumes.
-Constructing absurd costume combinations and prompting kids to explain why they don't make sense.
-Using categories such as body parts, costume types (superhero, animal, etc), and junk food.
-Employing the app as a barrier task where one child asks another to construct a scene using spatial concepts.
-Targeting story grammar at the Action Sequence level by having a student construct the graveyard scene with animations, along with story mapping and development of more sophisticated verb use (e.g. attack, descend).

ClickySticky Halloween is a universal app available from the App Store. It will function without wi-fi connection, and is accessed through tap/drag gestures.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Quick Tour of iOS5 on iPad

Apple has been much in the news lately as, besides Steve Job's passing, they have released a new phone, the iPhone 4S, and a new operating system for existing iPads and iPhones (and newer iPod Touches).   I have not bought the iPhone 4S since I am happy with my 4, but I am tempted by its new artificially intelligent personal assistant, Siri.  Siri helps you accomplish many tasks with voice commands such as texting, emailing, Internet searching, and adding items to the calendar.  While this new feature is limited to those with the iPhone 4S, we all can give our iPads and iPhones a new brain and enhancements by upgrading to iOS5.  I did a little video review of iOS 5 which you can see below; it is a pretty significant step for the operating system and will usher us into the "Post-PC" era.  After upgrading to iOS5, you will no longer need to connect your device to a computer (or have one, for that matter) to sync and backup your data.  I continue to say that it is important to have a laptop at least for work production, accessing Google docs (which are not so iPad-friendly) etc.  Sorry the quality is not the best, it's still hard to make a recording where the hand gestures are important to see.

Note: I did read that the split keyboard is designed to help you when you are holding the iPad with 2 hands, so you can type with your thumbs.  That makes sense.  Note also that the multitouch gestures I demo here only will work on iPad 2.

I highly recommend this upgrade (allow your iPad about 2 hrs to complete it), but definitely read this guide first.  Some other good reads:

Top 10 iOS5 Features you should know about (App Advice)
Top 10 iCloud Features you should know about (App Advice)
How to set up Wi-Fi Sync for iOS5 (CNET)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Playhome

App Name/Publisher: My Playhome by Shimon Young

Description: An adorable virtual playhome with characters (mommy, daddy, brother, sister, baby) and 4 rooms of a house (family room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom) which allow you to “play.” You can choose which character(s) to use and move them between rooms.

Therapy Use: There are endless possibilities when it comes to therapy uses for this app. To name a few...

Receptive Language: Following directions- (e.g. Have mommy eat a popsicle, then pour a bowl of cereal), Processing semantic-syntactic relationships- (e.g. Mommy eat apple, Daddy pick up baby, etc.), Spatial terms- (on, in, under, etc.)

Expressive Language: Have children give you “directions” to increase utterance length (e.g. baby eat popsicle), use grammatical forms such as auxilary verbs (e.g. brother IS jumping on bed, mommy and daddy ARE brushing teeth, etc.), -present progressive, etc.

Pretend Play: Have children practice play schemes, and generalize to “real” toys (play house)

Articulation: Lots of opportunity depending on your target.

Social Pragmatics: Sharing space, Turn taking, Negotiation.  

App Benefits/Likes: All kids (regardless of age) seem to love this app. You can get lots of repetition and practice on any goal area.

Cautions: You do need somewhat refined fine motor skills to “do” some of the actions in each room. Family of characters in the app are "traditional" and caucasian, with no way to customize this currently.

Skill(s) Targeted:
Articulation & Phonology
Expressive & Receptive Language
Social Skills/Pragmatics

Age/Grade Levels Targeted 
Early Elementary (Grades 1 – 3)

How to Activate 
Isolated finger point
Touch and release
Hold and drag

Type of Device: iPad, different (and free LITE) version available for iPhone, iPod Touch

Cost: $2.99 

Would you recommend this app? Yes
Reviewed by Meghan G. Graham M.S CCC-SLP
Review Date: 10/8/11