I found this app when I worked with a little boy whose life revolved around the three T’s: tractors, trucks, and trains. Here are some ways I have used it and my thoughts on its quality and usefulness.
What It Is: A farm scene with interactive animals, equipment, and people by Ubstar.
How It Works: Instead of having traditional pages, this app is one long, connected scene that the user can navigate to explore various areas on the farm. Total, it is the equivalent of about five screens’ worth of interactive animals, equipment, and people. The interactive features are all fairly basic–for example, touching the frog causes it to stick its tongue out and eat a flying bug, and touching one of the children hiding in the hay makes him/her stand up and giggle.
Therapy Applications: As I mentioned above, the reason I found this app was because I was trying to interest a sweet but very stubborn 3-year-old in therapy. Okay, in all honesty, I was trying to trick him into talking to me! And it worked. Even though (or perhaps because) the app is very simple, it is great for eliciting language. I quickly realized this is a great tool for getting a good speech/language sample. Many of my clients live in more rural areas, so it is easy for them to talk about their experiences on farms. (Think: “The farmer next to my house doesn’t have kids. He’s old. But…” and on they go.) For the children that haven’t had as much experience with farms, it’s fun to encourage them to imagine what the farmer does on the farm and what each animal is like. From here, we can work on quite a few goals. I’ve used the app for articulation/phonology (such as /k, g/ sounds/blends in pig, cat, dog, tractor, chicken, scarecrow, cow, frog, duck, kids, etc.). I’ve also used it for addressing basic concepts (big vs. small, for example). I could easily see it being used to work on establishing simple cause-effect relationships since the interactive parts are fairly spread out and it is easy to see how the animal, person, or object reacts when touched. I’ve used it for working on various morphemes (e.g. verb -ing by asking things like “What is the dog doing?”). Many preschools and elementary schools have field trips to farms–this app can be a good way to teach vocabulary about the upcoming trip and also prepare children for what to expect on their visit. The app is also nice for teaching one- and two-step direction-following. (For example, “touch the pig after you touch the cow.”)
2. Versatility. So many speech/language goals can be addressed using this app, and it can be used for a decent age range, too. Older preschoolers and early elementary children may get bored with it after a bit, but they usually enjoy playing with it for a while. It is perfect for the toddler and early preschooler.
3. Simplicity/ease of use. There are some amazingly complex apps out there, but sometimes a basic app is what’s needed to elicit language from children since it encourages their imagination and interaction instead of giving them something they can silently play with on their own.
4. Connected set-up. I really enjoy that this app takes a different approach to viewing the full farm. It makes it seem like the child is panoramically viewing a full farm, and it gives the therapist a way to focus on just a couple things in one area while still being able to easily move on to view the rest of the farm.
Cons: 1. If you’re looking for the intricate detail and real-life interaction of something like My PlayHome, this app is not going to provide that. The movements and sounds of the animals, people, and objects are quite basic.
2. Simplicity. Yes, this was also one of the things I liked about the app! Unfortunately, because it is so simple, it doesn’t usually hold children’s attention for that long.
The Take-Away: This is a good but simple app that can be used to address a range of goals. It may not hold your students’ attention endlessly, but it is good for eliciting language. Younger children will likely enjoy it, although they may get bored if it is used too frequently.
My Questions for You: How would you use this app in therapy? Would it hold your clients’ attention long enough to be useful?