So that my Apple readers don’t get TOO jealous of my new addition of Android reviews, here’s a review of a fun and inexpensive app for iDevices. I’m actually quite excited about this app because the developer just added new content that bumps it up from “good” to “great!” Also, this is another app for those “three T” (trucks, tractors, & trains)-obsessed boys and girls since there are quite a few vehicles to choose from–including trucks and tractors!
What It Is: A game for designing (and then driving) vehicles by ABCya.com.
How It Works: Players can either set up a “player profile” (up to five) or use the app as a “guest.” From there, they pick the type of vehicle (from various cars, trucks, a firetruck, a taxi, a double-decker bus, a tractor, etc.) and add tires, engines, tools, decorations, and much more. After the vehicle has been created, save it and go to the garage. From here, you can turn it on, edit it, delete it, and (with the awesome new update!) drive it! The drive is a cute little game where you try to get as far as you can in the vehicle (hitting the suns gives you more fuel and hitting the skulls slows you down).
Therapy Applications: This is one of those versatile apps that was not made for therapy but can address a huge range of goals. The first thing I have used this for is following single- and multi-step directions. During this (or separately), it’s easy to address things like quantitative concepts, prepositions, colors, etc. (“Put two black-and-yellow wheels on the front of the mixer, then put one gray ladder on the back of the mixer.”) Another thing I’ve found this quite useful for is having the child practice making requests by labeling the items and then asking for them. This is great for building vocabulary while putting it in context to make it functional. You could, of course, address multiple articulatory and phonological goals using this apps by focusing on certain phonemes or processes. I also like how natural it is to incorporate cognitive skills like problem-solving/reasoning/sequencing into this app. For example, you can help the child work through what needs to be done first, next, and last. Also, you can discuss the parts of the vehicle that NEED to be added (e.g. tires, engine) versus the parts that are optional (e.g. decals, fishing pole). You can talk about what does/does not belong (and why). (“Does a fishing pole belong on an ambulance? What about in someone’s truck?”) All of these things facilitate wh-questions well. Finally, the app (particularly the game portion) can simply be used as a reinforcer for good behavior, correct productions, etc.
Pros: 1. Price. It is worth far more than the $.99 price tag.
2. Range of appropriate ages and goals that can be addressed. As discussed above, there are a large number of ways to use this app. In addition, it could be used (with assistance) by children as young as two-ish or as old as middle-late elementary school.
3. Ability to enter user profiles (up to five). Even if the child is using the app as a “guest,” the cars s/he makes still get saved, so they can still be used later.
4. It’s possible to skip to the game if you’re just using this app as a reinforcer and don’t want to build any more cars. Simply go into any user’s garage, pick a car, and start driving.
Cons: 1. No settings options. This has been particularly inhibitory in that I have now changed work settings, so my “users” are all former clients. As far as I can tell, there is no way to clear a user to make room for a new one without deleting and reinstalling the app on your device.
2. This isn’t really a “con,” but in the future it would be cool to be able to add a drawing/coloring function to change the color of vehicles or add other decorations.
The Take-Away: This app is well worth the (very) small price tag. It is a great app that can be used with children of various ages for a wide range of objectives. The addition of the driving game has made it an even bigger hit with my clients.
My Questions for You: What speech/language/cognitive/behavioral goals could you address using this app? Would it be age-appropriate for your clients?
Looking for more expert reviews of this app? Check it out on YappGuru.com!