What It Is: A collection of interactive stories (and a memory game) by Ruta Ett based on a TV show. Each story is about a different vehicle (police car, seaplane, digger, etc.) and its jobs and daily activities.
Price: Free (for the police car story, memory game, and movie trailer); $3.99 (to unlock the other seven stories)
How It Works: The trailer gives a brief description of what “Heroes of the City” is. The memory game is 18 cards with the various vehicles on them. The eight interactive stories each focus on a specific vehicle. They are each about six pages long and have an introduction of the vehicle followed by descriptions of what the vehicle might do on a day-to-day basis. There are several “interactive” features to each page, such as the horn on the police car beeping or the squealing of tires on the race car. There is an option to have the story read to you or to read it yourself.
My Therapy Applications: I often use this app with particularly active preschoolers who enjoy stories but have difficulty focusing for a “full-length” children’s book. Like any other interactive story, I use it for a variety of purposes (wh-questions, vocabulary, etc.). I have, however, found that I find it most useful for literacy-based articulation therapy. The simple narratives easily lend themselves to focusing on speech production, particularly of /s, z, r, f, v, k, g/. In addition to articulation, I have found the stories are great for reasoning/problem-solving purposes. (For example, “Uh-oh, how did that elephant get out there?! What could the policeman do about it?”) I rarely use the memory game and have never used the trailer in therapy.
Pros: 1. Price. I love any app that gives the option to try a substantial portion of it free.
2. Multiple stories. This keeps things fresh, allows clients to make (guided) choices, and is informative about a variety of vehicles instead of only focusing on the two or three most common ones.
3. Brevity. I’m all for the longer classics, but many of the children we work with have difficulty staying on task for that long.
4. The gist of the stories are easy to understand, even without being able to read them. This is great for the preschoolers I see.
5. All my clients love it. They seem to enjoy the basic problems that are presented, the hero aspects of it, and more.
6. If the home button is pressed or you switch to another app, returning to this app will take you to where you left off. This seemingly minor feature is a huge plus, in my opinion.
Cons: 1. The app is highly sensitive. Children often have difficulty interacting with it because when they attempt to touch an interactive portion of the picture, they accidentally change the page.
2. The narrative is rather poor. I tend not to use the app for literacy purposes.
3. The interactive elements are a bit disappointing. There are usually only one or two audio elements per page. (For example, the cat “meows” if you touch it on the page where the firetruck is rescuing it.)
4. There is at least one typo! 😦
The Take-Away: The app is really not some amazing interactive game. It also does not feature any incredible, must-read stories. Yet I still use it regularly. Why? Mostly because it is highly motivating and there are plenty of non-literacy goals that can be addressed while playing with it. The free portion is definitely worth your download. Try that out. If you like what you get, even in all its simplicity, spend the $4 on the rest of the stories. I’ve certainly gotten good use out of it.
My Questions for You: Any of you SLPs (or non-SLPs) currently using this app? How does your experience match up to mine? If you’re not currently using it, would you download it after reading this review?
Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!