Thursday, February 8, 2018

Considering Games with the FIVES Criteria

When considering whether a game-based or "game-like" app is useful for an intervention context, I've found that a number of characteristics or features related to the FIVES criteria can be considered. I actually was looking for a game-based app related to the Winter Olympics but came up short...until Fiete emailed me this morning with an announcement about Fiete Wintersports (I had already been a fan of their Summer Olympics app and was looking to see if they had a winter one). This app provides a good example of some aspects of FIVES that make it very worthwhile:

F- Fairly Priced?
The app is free to download and provides you with two sports- skiing and bobsled. 14 in total can be unlocked with one in-app purchase of $2.99. To me, fair, given the below.

With games, you want interactivity to be within limits. Fiete Sports has a timed aspect but you can't time out, and no matter what, you get a medal. There is no way to stall or go off-course with any of the sports. Each sport shows you how to interact with the screen VERY SIMPLY (e.g. tap quickly, tap and drag) as the sport launches. The activities are very short, promoting the possibility of children in a group having many turns, or you can divide the play of one event among several students.

Each sport gives you a visual sense of how it works- much of which would be new to young learners and build semantic knowledge. The visuals would promote verbal expression as students could be asked to describe how the event works, perhaps using a frame like Ward/Jacobsen's STOP- Space, Time, Objects, People. I found that using the app while mirroring to an Apple TV in my clinical setting kept all engaged with the visual, and commenting on the event.

E-Educationally Relevant?
An app about the Olympics relates to current events, social studies and geography. Though the app provides limited verbal information about the events or Olympics in general, it provides a post-activity to reviewing picture books or other texts about the Olympics, focusing on vocabulary, figurative language (see my book collection at EPIC Books for Kids, the "Winter Olympic Sports" series has some nice slang), or look up the Olympics on Newsela.

The app itself targets no clinical objectives- but the language you can elicit around it within your activities would elicit cause-effect statements of why the event went as it did, categorizations of sports (winter vs summer, individual vs. team, ones played on flat surfaces vs. hills), and any activities done around text as mentioned above. Pair with a YouTube video about sportsmanship and you can do some narrative language, observational and social cognitive work. As mentioned in my previous post, explore how to re-create events in "real life" play and target the group planning aspects of this!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Free interactive book Dino Olympics

The Olympics start this week! The associated topics of sports and geography are great ways to engage students around language objectives. I discovered the free book for iPad Dino Olympics, created by the makers of Puppet Pals. The app is an interactive exploration of different dinosaurs' strengths and weaknesses when competing in Olympic events; it has delightfully silly animations that are extended and further contextualized when students tap on the screen.

In terms of language development, the book is a context for targeting:
-categorization (winter vs. summer events or ones which are easy/hard for the dinosaurs)
-connecting to the concept of multiple intelligences (in Social Thinking® parlance, different kinds of smarts, though it is the dinos' bodies, not their brains, that impact upon their success)
-labeling actions and using causals, "thinking with your eyes"- e.g. observing that Apatosaurus is not good at luge because his long body makes him bounce off the curves of the track.
-I also used this book with a post-activity of creating a "luge course"- a gym scooter on the floor makes a good simulation of this and planning obstacles for the course via sketching a "future picture" is an executive function activity (see the work of Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Cat in Therapy

Some years ago at the ASHA Convention, I saw in the program a poster entitled "A Cat In Therapy: Cute, but Effective?" I thought this title intriguing and at the same time, funny, and I was sad to have not been able to locate the poster. Fiete Cats AR ($1.99) gives you the opportunity to test this proposition out. AR--Augmented Reality-- is technology that overlays digital content over our world, often through the camera. In this case, the app makes a cat appear in any room, including your treatment space, and offers a number of interactions:

-Name up to 3 cats
-Observe the cat's needs (think with your eyes)
-Pet and play with the cat
-Feed it when it gets dirty (from playing in paint)
-Provide him food and drink when hungry/thirsty
-Put him to bed
-Record your interactions to make a short movie (saves to Photos app)

My kitty using his litter box ON MY RUG! Oh, NO!

Effective? Well, for sure the app is engaging, and provides a context for social observation, labeling actions, and using cause-effect and conditional structures.

This app is also a great pairing with picture books (narrative or expository) about cats. Consider making your own "picture book" with Book Creator, which would allow you to import screenshots or the videos recorded within the app. Students can write about their interactions with the cat, a context for any number of objectives.