Monday, April 25, 2011

Helicopter Taxi

This review also appears on TherapyApp411.

App Name/Publisher: Helicopter Taxi/Toca Boca

Description: Helicopter Taxi and Toca Boca's other apps are based on research about different kinds of play and how to engage kids in play via technology.  Helicopter Taxi itself is a very unique app that turns your device (iOS later-generation device such as iPhone 3GS or later, iPad 2- with cameras) into a toy.  You sort of have to see it to believe it:

Helicopter Taxi is therefore an active play app in which children can respond to requests from characters who need a "lift" from place to place.  It uses the device's motion sensors to some degree to respond to being put on a flat surface corresponding to take-off, flying, and landing, and its cameras to provide an "augmented reality" experience with the environment. It's great fun and a very innovative use of (newer only, sorry) these devices.

Therapy Use:  Helicopter Taxi provides many opportunities for language modeling, elicitation, and scaffolding-
Vocabulary and Verb Development- From simple verbs to more advanced such as hover, they are yours for the selection.
Concepts and Prepositions- In moving the helicopter, clinicians can focus on spatial words such as up, down, over, and other basic concepts such as sequencing words, fast, slow, through (the clouds) etc, all with visual and kinesthetic support.
Categories and Curriculum- Helicopter Taxi has 5 different locations (e.g. hospital, factory) that are drop-off points for passengers, and could be a good complement to a community helpers unit.
Pragmatics- The app would lend itself to being used to build turn-taking, eye contact and joint attention, as the child's attention need not always be on the screen at all!
Play and Literacy Extensions- Helicopter Taxi could be followed by low-tech play such as using a Little People Town (that has a helicopter) or books about transportation.

App Benefits/Likes: Takes incredible advantage of device possibilities, child need not be tied to screen, all of the above.

Cautions: 5 locations may get monotonous eventually (maybe expanded in future update?), newer device needed to use app, exaggerated motions sometimes required to get the app to respond to pickup, "landing," etc.  You will need a good case on your device if allowing children to "actively play" with it.

App Summary

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
Movement of device

Type of Device
iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad 2

$.99 US

Would you recommend this app?

Reviewed by
Sean Sweeney

Review Date
April 25, 2011

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