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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chuck and Friends ~Review~

Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul
If your child loves his/her trucks, they will enjoy this story. This is a great interactive book that has over 70 pages allowing the user to listen to the story, play letter and word activities that are embedded in the story, and watch an occasional video segment. The story has a few reading options: READ TO ME - allows the user to listen to the story as the words are highlighted (which is an important element when I am considering interactive books for the iPad), READ THE BOOK -  allows users to read the text, or READ and RECORD - allows the user to record own voice for the book, then hear it played back. I think this was my favorite part. My husband I recorded our voices (he was the narrator and I was Chuck's mom, of course) and we surprised out kids with it while on vacation. They loved it too! I also liked that the book offered a "how to play" section (with the option for directions to be read aloud) so that parents/teachers how know what to expect so they could guide the user with when problems arose. This section also gives info about how to complete the "Read and Record" section.
Chuck and Friends takes the reader through a journey with Chuck and his friends. It has a great lesson about team work and always telling the truth. The embedded activities are pretty much errorless or trial and error so all users can feel successful. The embedded activities involve "cleaning" the screen to reveal letters with the letters revealed in the correct spelling sequence and matching activities that reveal letters (again revealed in spelling order). At the end of the story, words/pictures can be used to create your own rebus story. Just an FYI, there is a way to skip the interactive activities. If needed, click on the forward arrow versus swiping page.

Additional IEP applications
This book could be used to develop many skills. It would be a great book to use as an introduction to the iPad since it colorful, has nice sound, and trucks are high interested (at least in my classroom and house). With this app, you could work on isolating the finger while going the swipe to turn page, "cleaning screen", matching letter and words, as well as pointing to pictures within the story. Chuck and Friends would also be great way to work on picture identification (where is the red truck?) as well as all the WH- questions. The only downfall I see is that my students would like it "too" much and a 70 page book might take us all day. :-) In that case, I would start with the LITE version and see how it goes. Then it might only take half the day!

I have not used this with my students, just my own kids. As I explored Chuck and Friends, here are a few things that I noticed were missing that I thougth would be helpful as a special education teacher and using this app within the classroom.
  1. In the Read to Me section, I couldn't figure out a way to "re-read" page besides going forward a page and then back.
  2. As far I explored, there was not an opportunity for the user to interact with Chuck. Maybe have one activity where the user could interact with Chuck, like maybe have user drive him though a track?
  3. At the end of the story, the user can create a fun rebus story, it would be nice to have to pictures stay in the story versus changing to words when the story is read.
  4. Again, with the story at the end, it would be great to have a way to "rewrite" story so if reading the story as a group, more than one student could complete the rebus story without restarting the app. Also, as a teacher, I would like the option to email the completed story so that we could do extension activities with the story.

In conclusion, Chuck and Friends is a great addition to the interactive book collection that I have acquired on my iPad. My own children love it, especially my 3 year old boy, but my almost 6 year old chooses that app too! This was the first book on an iPad in which I attempted to record my voice . It was easy once I was past the nervousness of reading and having to hear my own voice. Between the story, embedded activities, and the ability to personalize it with your own voice, the app is one to definitely add to your collection! ($3.99 price as of review date!)

I have included a brief video of Chuck and Friends. It is a bit more "commercial" than I would like, but it shows some nice screenshots and overview of some of the activities.

Video from YouTube, Ruckus Media Group

developer: Ruckus Media Group
category: Books
recently updated:June 24, 2011

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