What It Is: An interactive story by ZigZag Studio.
How It Works: This app is an interactive story that allows users to help “Ben the Tractor” collect escaped sheep around a farm and bring them back to “Farmer Johnny” to be sheared. (Tip: Explain what shearing is to kids in the beginning of the story–otherwise they may go through the entire story believing they’re about to butcher the sheep. Yes, I have several personal stories backing that one!) There are 12 pages to this story. Many are various scenes around the farm (e.g. pasture, garden, pond) where the sheep are “hiding” after escaping through a broken pasture fence. After gathering each hiding sheep onto the tractor’s trailer, the user drops the sheep off at the corral and reports back to the farmer. In addition to the story, there are puzzles for the various pages.
My Therapy Applications: As with many traditional, non-digital stories, there are many rich applications for therapy in this app. I’ve used it for just about everything, including: 1. Articulation–/s, z, f, v, t, d/ etc. This offers a nice, functional alternative to decontextualized, boring drill cards. 2. Vocabulary–farm animals/equipment, descriptive/function words, etc. 3. Problem-Solving/Reasoning/”Wh” Questions–e.g., “Uh-oh, why do you think that fence broke?” 4. Counting (1-10)–the sheep as you go or at the end when dropping them off at the corral. 5. Various Language Goals–e.g. verb endings, sentence structure. 6. Cause/Effect–e.g. when you touch the chicks, they run away. There are clearly many possible applications.
Pros: 1. There is a “lite” version, so you can check it out before purchasing the full deal.
2. It truly is interactive. Unlike many “interactive” stories where a character simply makes a noise when touched, this story cannot be completed without the user’s contribution. It is the responsibility of the user to find all the sheep–they are an integral part of the process.
3. It involves the settings customization I think should be in every app. The user can choose auto play, text, narration, and music options. The puzzles can be set to have anywhere between 4 and 16 pieces.
4. It is highly versatile–it can be used for a variety of goals/objectives.
5. It is by far all of my preschoolers’ favorite app. Most of them have it memorized, but somehow we still find novel ways to work on their goals/objectives using it.
6. I was unable to find anything culturally offensive in it as I have in many other interactive stories (think: Disney).
Cons: 1. I wouldn’t recommend it for rich narrative. The narrative quality is a tad underwhelming.
Overall Rating: 5/5
The Take-Away: This app is the best example of an interactive story I have found through the App Store. While it’s not intended to be a speech/language therapy app, it can be used by SLPs for a variety of functions. It’s well worth the two bucks and will likely be a favorite for younger clients.
Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!