“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Monday, April 25, 2011

My First App ~Review~

In attempt to write my first app review, I thought it appropriate to choose the collection of apps created by My First App. Although I call this a review, which I guess it technically is, I think of it more as a discussion. It is me “discussing” the apps that I have used in the classroom - what worked, what didn't work, and how the students reacted. Initially, I downloaded these apps with a couple of students in mind. I was looking for basic educational apps that would reinforce the ‘touch and drag’ concept of using the iPad that were “fun” for the students, yet graphics were simple. I often find an app that I think will be great, then the visual stimulation of the app is too much for me to handle. My First App gave me 2 apps that were exactly what I was looking for and a couple more that were able to engage all my students. Due to using a modified TEACCH work system in my classroom, I found these apps to make a nice connection between the concrete work and same skills on a more abstract level.Visit about my classroom for more information about the students using these apps.

Here is my first attempt at an app review....here goes!

My First App has created a collection of apps that develop the matching, visual perception and spacial skills of users. Meant for ages 1.5+ years, each of the apps assist in developing hand-eye coordination, categorizing skills, and fine motor skills through engaging the user in a variety of matching activities. Currently, there are 6 apps available in the app store. According to myfirstapp.com, they are working 6 additional apps. With each of the apps (minus Slide and Spin), six activities are included in the FREE download, with an additional 3 activities, per app are available for $0.99 upgrade per app. Additional screen shots and directions are available on the developers site for review before downloading.

Match it up 1 - This app offers simple matching tasks, such as by color, shape, and by picture. I have used with with students to teach and assess simple matching skills. I like that the activity is similar to the independent matching tasks that the students are familiar with completing. It takes the skill to a different level from the concrete matching to the touch screen. It is a great way to use simple skills to develop the concept to “touch and drag”.

Match it up 2 - This app offers slightly more abstract matching activities relating to part to whole, such as find the other half of a picture, matching color icon to black-line drawings, or matching color icon to shadow of the icon. Some of my students found this one more difficult, so it was more of teaching tool versus an activity they could complete independently.

Match it up 3 - This app continues to build on the matching skills from the first two apps. With Match it up 3, users are given tasks relating to more detailed matching, such as matching the picture to a shape (pumpkin=circle), animals to habitat, and environmental pictures that are related (rain to raincloud). This app was only appropriate for a couple of my students due to the increased difficulty in the concepts. This app also is primarily utilized as a teaching tool.

Build it up - I like to think of this app as a “virtual ring stacker”. It develops early math skills of spacial awareness by presenting activities that require the user to order or build pictures by item size, such as the ring stacker toy or building a snowman from bottom up. The activities use bright colors and nice pictures that make the app more enjoyable for the user.

Slide and Spin - This app is similar to the toy I used to call the “twist and pop” with my kids.  This app develops cause and effect as well as fine motor skills requiring the user to slide or spin a virtual knob to get the picture to show up. The students will play with this app occasionally, but it doesn’t keep their interest as much as other cause and effect apps. Addition of a music component versus the cheer may help increase interest.

My Scene - This app was not in my initial download of My First App apps. I became aware of it while I was searching for information on the app developers. I would describe My Scene as a big sticker book. It presents the user with a choice of scenes (hence, the app name), such as playground, beach, or circus. Once a scene is chosen and displayed, various pictures relating to that scene are available to touch and drag into the scene. This app has many potentials. It could be used for developing vocabulary, teaching spacial concepts, or used to create a story. I look forward to utilizing this app soon.

I do have a few suggestions that would make these even better. I wish the apps would included a options that would allow for more individualization per user, such as:
  • having an option to let all choice still show once a match is made to make she that student can truly match all icons
  • having an option to set the number of choice so that you could start with one matching and increase as student begins to master the skill
  • an app option OR blank app that would allow for picture import so that the app could contain images that would be motivating to the user
In conclusion, I have been very pleased with these apps. I was surprised to see some of the negative comments within the app store reviews. They are definitely apps the fit into the category “can’t believe these are free”.

developer: My First App
website: http://myfirstapp.com/Site/Home.html
itunes: My First App
category: educational
recently updated in April, 2011

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. I am glad you just didn't write all good things but also some not so good things about apps. I really like this app as I think this is the first app set that I have seen that are not 'me too' app (I call the apps such as colors/shapes/numbers. Tehre are million of them out there but still some devs are making it.)