What It Is: An app version of the popular “Crocodile Dentist” game by Dayoon.
How It Works: Unbeknownst to me before purchasing the app, the physical version of this game has been quite popular in the world of therapy for some time. The game (both physical and digital versions) is simple: the player is playing dentist to a crocodile with a sore tooth! The player begins touching each tooth to find the sore one, and when the sore one is found, the crocodile snaps his mouth shut on the player’s finger. (Side note: I’m not going to name names, but I know at least one #slpeep who has admitted to receiving great satisfaction from watching the physical version of the game snap down on misbehaving fingers! 😉 If this is the case for you, I’m afraid the app version won’t cut it. For the rest, continue reading.)
Therapy Applications: I’ve used this in small group therapy, played it 1:1 with the child, and let the child use it alone. Sometimes it’s just a simple reinforcer activity at the end of an activity: “You finished all your words! Go ahead and play with the crocodile!” Sometimes it’s more of a “token reward”-type system, where the child is allowed to press one tooth for each response. In this way it’s easy to get any sort of drill accomplished, whether it be articulation/phonology, labeling/naming, conversational turns, or anything else. You can use it at all the various levels (sounds in isolation, words, sentences, etc.). Other times, I’ve used this (usually with the much younger crowd) as a type of “communication temptation”. There is a LOT of anticipation build-up during this simple game, so it’s easy to elicit some simple words/phrases like “Ready, set, …. [go]!” and “Uh-oh!” I’ve also used it as a silly way to snap (haha, get the pun?) kids out of grumpy or shy moods. (I mean, could you stay grumpy/shy if you saw me dancing around yelling, “AHHH he got my finger!!!”?)
Pros: 1. Price. This is definitely one of those ones I’ve turned to wayyy more than my pricey apps, and it’s only $.99.
2. Mute button. The mute button is right on the screen so it’s easy to quickly press it on/off when using this as a token-like reinforcer.
3. The excitement that naturally builds up in kids when playing this app is extraordinary for eliciting natural conversation and play. They completely forget that they’re in therapy.
4. I haven’t used the app with any older clients, but my preteen/teen siblings think it’s a riot. I wouldn’t say it’s appropriate with adults, but I’d bet you’d be surprised how many older children enjoy it.
5. The app saves it’s spot when you exit, so if you are using it as a reinforcer while utilizing another app, it’s easy to switch back and forth.
Cons: 1. I have had one client who was scared of the crocodile. (Maybe he had previous experience with the physical version!) Other than that, though, I haven’t had any negative experiences with it.
The Take-Away: This is definitely one of those cheapies-but-goodies. You know, the kind that nearly every client loves and wants to play over and over again. I’ve used it mostly as a reinforcer, but it has some other fun therapy applications as well. It’s worth the small price if you work with children.
My Questions for You: Do you have any ideas for using the app other than as a reinforcer? With what age groups do you think this would be appropriate?