What It Is: A collection of games with the overlying themes of bugs and buttons by Little Bit Studio.
How It Works: The app can be played by pressing the start or explore options on the homepage. The start option leads the player through the various games, whereas the explore option allows the user to pick each game. (For therapy purposes, I tend to pick the explore option.) There are 18 different games. Bees Eye is somewhat of a tamer version of Angry Birds–the user flings bees from a slingshot and gets points for hitting a flower (which begins moving as the user advances). Patterns involves choosing from a selection of buttons in order to complete the pattern of six buttons. Counting involves squishing a certain number of bugs and then selecting the corresponding number on the side. Tic-Tac-Toe is the same as the regular game, but with buttons and played against the computer instead of using two players. Catch ’em is simply squishing bugs. Button Sorting involves sorting buttons into their appropriate boxes (e.g. red into the red-labeled box). Factory Sorting is similar but involves a moving conveyer belt with various bugs and buttons that need to be sorted into the correct jars. Apple Pickin’ requires the user to pick apples and place them in a basket before they rot. Connect Dots is the typical connecting-the-dots pictures (e.g. a house) but with numbered buttons mixed in with other buttons. Button Truck has a truck driving through a field dumping buttons that need to be touched by the player for points. Bug-Mazing requires getting a bug through a brief maze.
Firefly Sky involves trapping a certain color of firefly into a jar. Roach Racing has the user rapidly alternate between touching two buttons to race a roach against two computer roaches. Pinch & Grab requires the user to pinch various waste objects (e.g. cardboard, soda cans) and place them in the appropriate receptacles (e.g. recycling bin). Butterfly Valley involves tilting the iDevice to make a butterfly go between two dandelions. Find it! hides a bug under one of three thimbles and then moves the thimbles around (with the idea being to keep one’s eye on the correct thimble in order to pick it at the end). Matching is a basic matching game with different colored buttons (and corresponding letters). Letter Train asks the user to place the button with the correct letter in the correct position on the train (e.g. “E” in between “D” and “F”).
My Therapy Applications: Many times, I use this as a motivational tool. For example, we work on articulation while playing Tic-Tac-Toe, or the child practices one grammatically correct utterance for each bee he or she shoots in Bees-Eye. There are a couple good early literacy skills that can be addressed, such as in Letter Train. The games also teach other basic preschool concepts like colors and numbers. Many cognitive skills are involved in this app, such as sorting, categorizing, patterns, memory, and more. It is pretty easy to incorporate goals involving following directions in many of the games as well. Find it! could be good for working on eye gaze/tracking skills, although I have not had the opportunity to use it in this way. (I have, however, used Find it! for attention/calming purposes–it’s a fun, sneaky way to get more “boisterous” children to focus in the beginning of therapy.) Catch ’em and Button Truck are great for teaching basic cause-effect relationships. In other words, there are seemingly endless ways to use these games.
Pros: 1. Price. When I first downloaded it, it was free, but the price is still ridiculously cheap for an app of its quality and quantity of games.
2. There are 18 games!!! How many children’s apps can say THAT?! This means a ton of objectives that can be addressed using this one app.
3. Ease of use. A couple of the games need to be explicitly taught (e.g. the Counting game), but all are easy for preschoolers (and even toddlers) to play. In other words, you can focus on your objectives instead of spending valuable therapy time explaining the games.
4. Quality. I’ve never had a problem with any of the individual games. In addition, the games are, well, beautiful. I know that’s not a very technical description, but it’s true. 🙂 The colors and interactive features are quite pretty and attractive to kids.
5. The background music isn’t annoying. There are very few children’s apps I am willing to say that about, so this is pretty noteworthy in my opinion!
6. Each game gets increasingly difficult, so it keeps even older preschoolers challenged.
7. Motivational! I have yet to meet a toddler or preschooler that doesn’t love at least a few of the games in this app!
8. The child earns points in many of the apps (or is otherwise rewarded for “winning”), but it isn’t so focused on the points that the child feels defeated if he or she misses something. I have found it to be a nice balance between completely errorless learning and perfectionist competition.
Cons: 1. For a little while in earlier versions, the home menu of the game was not letting me access the app, and I would have to close out of the app and re-enter it. However, the developers seem to have fixed this bug now.
The Take-Away: This app is just overflowing with motivating games for young children. If you work with this population, I would definitely recommend purchasing it. The quality is great, the kids love it, and there are so many objectives that can be addressed using the various games.
My Questions for You: If you already own this app, how do you use it in therapy? What game(s) do you use most and what objectives do you address with it? If you don’t own the app, could you incorporate it in your therapy?
Looking for expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!