Gift: iPad App- Play School Art Maker.
How we found it: It was found on the Spectronics blog through Ian Bean's post on December 21, 2011.
About the App: Designed for children to create picture scenes, animated movies and story slide shows using a variety of backgrounds and images. It is based on an Australian children's television show that encourages spontaneous and symbolic imaginative play. Children choose a background and tap and drag images into the 'scene' to create a story. A story can be created in a few ways. It can be created using one picture slide and animating the items on the page to make the story. The story can also be created by using up to 8 animated picture slides to create a clear sequence events for the story. All stories can be saved and shared. The customized options include importing backgrounds from a photo library as well as on-going choices for image selection and animation.
Learning Langage: There are many opportunities for choice making, commenting, as well as story or narrative development. Sentence building, sequencing, and even movie making can also be the goal depending upon how the language facilitator structures the activity. Specific language learning best happens when modeling, visual supports for active participation, prompting, language expansions, and positive communication reinforcement is provided. The app provides some level of prompting for participation through sound cues if choices for backgrounds or images are not made. There is also positive reinforcement throughout completion of steps within the story making process.
Favorite Features: There are quite a few which is why this is an app that makes it to the holiday wish list. The choice of background corresponds to the specific images set up in the image bank. This feature provides natural oppotunities to work on categorization within context. Another favorite feature involves having some of the selected images turn into a puzzle and once the puzzle is completed it becomes part of the story. This allows for extra and varied active participation. Names of the specific tv characters are spoken so you do not need to watch the show to use the app. Also, a variety of appropriate language is modeled each time you choose a background (i.e. 'Space suits and moonboots on' or 'up up up we go to the moon'). There is opporunity to create realistic stories as well as fantasy stories. And last but not least there is plenty of positive reinforcement, positive prompting and no real error messages.
* language modeling with a standard american accent option (vs Australian)
* language modeling for the objects
* text & speech synthesis option for writing and speaking story
* options to choose story structure (beginning, middle, and end)
Other notes: Although itunes had a message indicating this app was not for purchase through the US iTunes store, it uploaded without any problem on the iPad.
Have fun with communication and language learning!