Archive | September, 2012
17 Sep

Several of my readers have students with speech issues. This Post by The Speech Guy lists some apps, both paid and free, that might be helpful. Check with your SLP if you are wondering if these will work for your child.

The Speech Guy

Voice Recognition & Activation Apps for Speech Therapy

Voice recognition and activation have been slowly made it into the main stream with advancements like Siri, S Voice, or even Dragon Naturally Speaking. These features are also making their way into apps and I am not talking about apps like Talking Tom, Talking Ben, or Talking Ava as these are simple record and say apps. These record and say apps are useful especially with children that are reluctant to vocalize or just too stubborn. What I am talking about is using your voice, words, or phrases to activate the app or cause something on the screen to happen in response to a “recognized” word or sound. Some of these apps are voice activation apps and some are voice recognition apps.

Tiga Talk Camp Fire Adventure- $4.99

This app, based around characters of a Canadian TV show, appears to be a much…

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The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov

15 Sep

The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov App iconThe Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov (henceforth to be referred to in this post as Bobik) is difficult to describe.  The subtitle should be How could one bear get into so much trouble? This beautifully illustrated and charmingly narrated eBook definitely lives up to the name, as our Bear hero has adventures nearly on the scale of Ulysses’ adventures in  Homer’s Odyssey.  Just when you think the adventure has finished, off he goes in a completely different direction.  There are a lot of surprising things packed into the story, which spreads over 45 pages.

The illustrations are photographs and photo collages, many of with use household items as props.  It has the feel of those old movies that used claymation, stop-motion and very fake-looking puppetry for special effects in the days before CGI.  Kitsch is probably the most apt description, but I mean that as a compliment. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but Bobik, used to living the high life, experiences a fall in fortune and meets mermaids, dragons, wizards (to name but a few) as he journeys to find his place in life.

Bobik is bilingual, with both English and German languages available.  The English narration is delivered by a child actress with a very expressive and delightful British accent.  I can’t speak German, but I had a listen to the German narration and again found a rather expressive child narrating.  There is something lovely about hearing a book read so well by children and it serves as a good example to children on how to read with expression.  You can also choose to read it yourself.  In this mode there is no narration and no options to turn the narration on if the reader needs help.  I’d love an option to tap on individual words and hear them spoken aloud, as this supports readers who need help with the occasional word.  It might also help with the pronunciation of some of the more foreign words.

UPDATE FRIDAY MARCH 8TH 2013 – The latest version of Bobik has a new feature that is supportive of early readers.  Text is now highlighted as read.  I just love it when you buy an app and it just gets better.

What you won’t get in this eBook App is outside links that take your child out of the app and to places you don’t want them to go. There are  no social networking links, no in-app purchases, no advertising and no external links to websites.  I can’t help but love that.

Verdict

Some stories are good for learning to read and feature elements like rhyme, predictive text, and graded vocabulary.  Other books are meant to read for pleasure and can help kids get “hooked on books.”  This book fits into the latter category.  While many young readers might struggle with the text, Bobik is the perfect story to sit down and enjoy.  The narration, as mentioned above, is delightful and handy for children looking at the book by themselves, but I’d recommend turning off the narration, sitting down with your child on your lap, and reading the story aloud, which is the way my children prefer it.

But what do the experts say?  My younger boys (5 and 6) loved it and were in stitches of laughter as we read together. Master 8 really enjoyed it, and he is usually fairly critical of things (The mermaids don’t have tails – sorry, but they don’t, Mum, so they CAN’T be mermaids!)  My soon-to-be-ten twin daughters are now planning their own Bobik-inspired creation as a holiday project.  They are working on the plot and intend to borrow my camera (hmmmmm) and use one of our eBook-creation Apps such as Book Creator or Picturebook to publish and hopefully share with their friends. (They could also use Keynote or PowerPoint.)  In short, the experts in this house love the book, have re-read it several times already, and are inspired to create by it, so we rate it very highly.

Disclaimer:  Thanks to AppAble and JustKidsApps for this App as I won it in an AppAble giveaway.  AppAble is a great blog that features news and reviews about Apps, with a Special Needs focus. They have lots of App giveaways via online raffles, and I’ve won quite a few (to the point where I may need to put a “Sponsored by AppAble” graphic on my site!).  They also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AppAble

Publisher:  JustKidsApps
Price: $1.99
iPad only
The Adventures of Bobik Bombastinov - JustKidsApps - Katrin Draemann Barothy

Related Links

Making eBooks on your iPad:  10 ideas for Parents and Teachers (onsarahsipad.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/making-ebooks-on-your-ipad-10-ideas-for-parents-and-teachers/)

Sight Words Hangman by Sogabee

7 Sep

Sight Words Hangman app by Sogabee - app icon“But I don’t want to do my sight words. They are boooooorrrrrrring” went the standard complaint from Master B. This has changed recently thanks to two Apps by Sogabee. I’ve already reviewed Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop, and today I’m happy to be able to tell you about Sight Words Hangman.

Features

Sight Words Hangman game

My incorrect choice has been greyed out. This was my third error in the game. Once more error and I’m OUT.

  • Flash Cards Activity – This works as most Flashcard activities do: swipe the screen to show a word and hear it spoken. If the Quiz mode is turned on, children have the opportunity to attempt the word before tapping the screen to hear it spoken.
  • Hang Man Activity – Instead of guessing a correct letter, as in the traditional Hangman game, children must identify the correct word from a choice of four. A Repeat button is available so the word can be listened to again if needed. Correct answers receive positive feedback. Incorrect answers are shaded, a piece of the hangman is revealed, and the child gets to try again. After four incorrect answers, the game finishes. There are no time limits, so children can take the time they need without being penalised. Results are saved and can be reviewed. (See below).
  • Sight Words Hangman Word Lists

    Here are some of the available word lists. You can see the contents of each list.

    Word lists Sight Words Hangman comes with 35 lists of words, each with 10 words. There are an additional five lists with Holiday-themed words for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The contents of each list can be seen in the List select screen.

  • Difficulty Level – Use the settings to select the difficulty level. The easy level uses random words and the hard level uses words starting with the same letter.
  • Voice – words and positive feedback are spoken in a clear and pleasant American Male accent.
  • Sound – A fun theme plays on the main screen only. You can’t turn it off or alter the volume, but this isn’t really an issue as the main screen is used only briefly.
  • Progress Tracking – View the results to seen when each list has been attempted, which words are recognised, and which words are needing work.
  • Simple interface – there are not a lot of “bells and whistles” in this app, making it easy to use. The clear, uncluttered screens make it easier for children to focus on the task at hand, without being distracted by superfluous visual and audible elements.
  • Special Needs – while this App is aimed at children in lower primary/elementary school, its graphics would be age-appropriate for older students with special needs. The hangman activity is one of those universal games played by all ages so it won’t seem too childish for older students.
  • Safety – There are no in-app purchases or advertising, and no links to social networking or websites. There is one subtle link to Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop in the iTunes App Store, but it has to be deliberately held down for a few moments before it activates, and it can be easily removed. Children will not be able to activate it by random tapping.

Wish List

I started thinking of what I’d like to see in this App, and realised that Sogabee had already delivered the features I wanted in Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop. I like being able to make custom lists to match the lists my children have for their homework, and I like to create individual profiles so I can track the individual progress of my children, and so they can have their own collections of rewards (although there are no collectables rewards in Sight Words Hangman.) Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop lets you make custom lists and has rewards for the child to collect.  Individual profiles are not available with the Pixopop App, but I am told they are looking at this feature for future versions.  It would be great if they could add individual profiles to Sight Words Hangman.

Verdict

Sight Words Hangman makes learning sight words fun for children. A few minutes on the flashcards activity each day will help children learn to recognise their core sight words, and the fun Hangman game will reinforce this. If you already have Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop, you probably don’t need to get this App (the Pixopop App has versions of both the Flashcard and Hangman activities as well as a spelling activity), but if you are looking for something to take the drudgery out of learning sight words, then Sight Words Hangman is a good choice.

Disclaimer:  Marcel Widarto from Sogabee kindly provided me with codes for both Sight Words Hangman and Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop for review purposes. I am happy to receive App codes for review purposes, however I will give an honest review of each App.

Publisher: Sogabee
Price: $1.99
Universal

Sight Words Hangman - Marcel Widarto

Ghost Type by Demografix

3 Sep

Ghost type by demografix app iconTraditional typing tutors might be a great thing for traditional keyboards, but for the iPad you need something completely different. iPad keyboards do not have physical “home keys,” the tactile and audible feedback of keys being pressed, and are smaller than most physical keyboards, making it awkward for large hands to do two-handed touch-typing. Ghost Type by Demografix is designed to help people of all ages to type on the iPad with two hands, and you’ll also find it might help single-handed typists also, such as those with a physical impairment. I often find myself typing with a single hand (either left or right) due to the other being occupied by small people, and I’ve found Ghost Type has helped me with speed and accuracy. Continue reading

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