Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Daisy the Dinosaur

Did you hear about the Hour of Code? This initiative in computer science education was featured in December 2013 in many schools where students were encouraged to work on programming projects. While programming might seem far removed from special education, it incorporates many skills our students need: language, sequencing, cause-effect, problem solving!

So it's nice to see some apps available that address these skills in very basic ways. Daisy the Dinosaur is an app that was actually designed to attract girls to programming, but it can be "repurposed" for speech and language activities:

The app has two modes: free-play and challenge. In "free-play," you can move the dinosaur using a number of verbs or modifiers. In challenge mode, you are given a set condition to achieve, such as making Daisy spin five times.

I do wish the app allowed you to select specific or leveled challenges instead of requiring you to proceed through them sequentially (though in doing so, you can note which programs you can instruct students to achieve). However, for a free app it offers a fun and engaging way to develop skills of following directions and sentence formulation (particularly sentences using the subordinating conjunction when). Additionally, as the app consists of selectable actions, it could be used to develop narrative action sequences.

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