Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tinybop's The Human Body and the Learning Sandbox

A "sandbox" app is one that provides "open" play to some extent in a given context, Minecraft being a very popular sandbox application these days. Within a sandbox app, students can make choices and experience interactions with the context. Many great sandbox apps such as MarcoPolo Weather are relatively language-neutral, with little audio disrupting the activity, and for language intervention this presents a great context to elicit talk. Also notable in sandbox apps is the pace: you set it. In their post on sandboxes and play, Toca Boca notes that "Some sandbox games are set in vast city environments or large natural settings, others in more limited realms such as homes, doctors’ offices or hair salons."

Tinybop has been publishing apps that have these "limited" realms designed around specific curriculum topics (often but not exclusively related to STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math- areas). Take The Human Body ($3.99 and well worth it as a specialized digital toy), which is "a working model of the body." Students can be guided to explore each system of the body and interact with it to see how it works. For example, the nervous system section allows you to drag different stimulants to the body (such as a stinging bee or feather) to see the effects of touch or pain, and smartly connects to the camera and microphone of the iPad to demonstrate the senses of vision and hearing.

Tinybop's working model allows you to explore the digestive system

I have benefited greatly by downloading the free handbooks that go with the Tinybop apps, as without these you might not know where all the interactions are hidden. I recommend printing the Human Body handbook, as within the app you have to access the adult dashboard to see it, and it's nice to have it on paper to the side so you can play with all the systems. You can download the handbook for this and other apps from Tinybop's website to make it easier to print.

The Human Body is quick to familiarize yourself with, and can be used for language-based activities when students are dealing with this curriculum material, such as:
-creating sentences about the cause-and-effect relationships within systems
-sorting vocabulary and concepts into categorical systems
-linking to real-world narrative, perhaps by taking photos and creating a book on our relationship with our body systems in Book Creator.
-pairing with a picture book related to the topic of anatomy and physiology for more narrative and expository instruction

I'll be taking a look at the other Tinybop apps in a future post or two!

1 comment:

  1. I love the working model of the digestive system. Thats amazing!