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

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Alien Buddies ~Review~

Alien Buddies

"Alien Buddies! I love Alien Buddies" CB, age 4 upon seeing the app icon
"I want ship." MR, age 8 to request the app



Alien Buddies is an entertaining and educational matching app by Artgig Apps (creator of Shake-a-Phrase). Alien Buddies is a PreK-1st grade (ages 3-7) skill level app that focuses on the concepts of direct and auditory matching of colors, numbers, shapes and letters, number order, and creativity skills.  

Matching: The app has several levels and options within the matching section. The user can choose between direct match of colors, shapes, letters (lower to lower, upper to upper, lower to upper), and numbers (1-10, 1-20, 1-50). The user can also develop and practice receptive listening skills through playing the "listen" matching section where the user is given a verbal cue of the expected match. Colors, shapes, letters (lower to lower, upper to upper, lower to upper), and numbers (1-10, 1-20, 1-50) are also options for the auditory section as well.  

Dot to Dot: The Dot to Dot section offers the user a variety of shapes/pictures to create by following the numbers dot to dot. To complete the easiest dot to dot, the user connects numbers 1 to 10 by tracing between numbers or by touching each number in order. The hardest dot to dot consists of numbers 1 to 17. The dot to dot section provides opportunities to work on number recognition, ordering numbers as well as fine motor and visual motor skills.  

Stickers: The last section of Alien Buddies is a great creativity section. The user can choose between a variety of space backgrounds and space 'stickers' to create their very own alien picture. Once placed on the background, the stickers can be resized and rotated using 'pinch to zoom' iOS feature. The user begins with some stickers, but can earn additional stickers as they complete activities in the Matching and Dot to Dot sections. After an alien picture is complete, the user has the option to "take a picture" which sends the alien picture to the photo section on your iPad.
one of the great space scenes created with this app

Alien Buddies is a solid educational app that reinforces several of the common core academic standards for Kindergarten in the areas of reading foundational skills: print concepts, counting and cardinality and geometry. The use of direct match and auditory matching sets this app apart from the other matching apps that I have experienced. The organization of the app is very straight forward. The Parents section was a great addition to the app. It gave a nice overview of the app and what is expected in each section. It provides the needed information about Artgig apps as well as easy access to leaving an iTunes review (which is an important step for consumers to take time and tell the developers what we like/don't like).


I utilized this app with my students (ages 5-8) as well as my own kids (ages 4 and 6). Everyone who used the app enjoyed it! My students were engaged, attentive, and demonstrating matching skills that they often do not show when working 1-1 with me. To my surprise, most users chose the matching or dot to dot section over the stickers section. I thought they would have chosen the more open ended, "play" section over the matching or dot to dot, work" sections. I think this is proof that Alien Buddies disguises an education app as a fun, entertaining app in the eyes of the young users.

Alien Buddies has many IEP applications. Through the use of the direct match section, I can teach and assess students on matching colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. The auditory section can be used to teach and assess the students as well. This section takes the focus off the teacher and allows the students to complete the activities independently. This allows the teacher to take the role of the observer. The dot to dot section provides opportunities to have students work on fine motor and visual motor skills. Lastly, the stickers section can be used as a speech and communication tool. The students can create a alien scene. The teacher can use the scene to elicit language by asking questions or having the students talk about the scene.

As I mentioned before, Alien Buddies presents as a solid, educational app developing the skills of colors, numbers, and letter recognition. From a teacher's perspective, the math and auditory skills reinforced are important foundational skills that students need. It provides the teacher with a alternative to traditional assessments. From a user perspective, this app is so entertaining and engaging that the users did not realize they were reinforcing those important academic skills.

In conclusion, I must share a specific story about using Alien Buddies within my classroom. I have a student who is often difficult to engage with classroom activities. The student has many academic skills, but often does not "show me what he/she knows". This was the case last week. The student did not want to complete the planned activity. In an effort of keep him involved, I pulled out my iPad and turned on Alien Buddies. Within seconds, the student demonstrated that skills of matching colors, shapes, and numbers and remained engaged with Alien Buddies for 10 minutes without losing attention. For an intervention specialist like me, this experience is one of the reasons I continue to utilize the iPad within my classroom and continue to search for the best apps available. I will now add Alien Buddies to that list! For the $1.99 USD price, this is an app I would suggest adding to your wish list as well! Still want to know more about Alien Buddies, check out the short video below.

Did you enjoy this review? Do you have Alien Buddies and have a story to share? Please leave a comment below. I'm interested in knowing what you think!




APP INFO
developer: Artgig Apps
website: http://www.artgigapps.com/
itunes: Alien Buddies
category:education
released:November 29, 2011

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