Today I am reviewing a brand new app by the Virtual Speech Center: Sounds at Home. Designed to target phonemic awareness skills in young children 2-6 years of age, the app targets the following range of skills:
- Sound Identification (in the home)
- Identifying initial sounds in words
- Identifying final sounds in words
- Following one step directions with one element
- Following one step directions with two elements
- Following two step temporal directions
The premise of the app is simple. Children visit three rooms (living room, kitchen, playroom) in the Mama Bears House, in each of which they work on different activities pertaining to emergent reading skills. Children start off, in the living room where they work on environmental sound identification.
Next up is the kitchen where they work on rhyming as well as initial and final sound identification.
Then it’s off to the playroom where they work on following different types of one-step and two step directions.
In between practicing, they can enjoy building puzzles as a reward. The reward game is based on levels of complexity and contains 3 types of leveled puzzles: 4 pieces, 9 pieces, and 12 pieces.
What’s great about these puzzles is that they can be used to practice new vocabulary words or to create a story regarding what is happening in the picture or what can happen next.
- I love the environmental sounds option because it exposes very young children (e.g., 3-4 years of age) to a variety of “need-to-know” sounds of their home environment via targeted sound recognition
- I love the fact that this app is set at “home” and uses familiar vocabulary as well as a bunch of adorable animals as characters to strengthen the children’s phonological awareness skills and prepare them for emergent reading tasks
Room for Improvement:
- “Living room level skill” – Sound Identification: I wish the objects in the room were bigger and the visual space wasn’t so excessively cluttered with them. It took me a while to look around to find the source of the “noise/sound” so many younger children may need to be explicitly taught where to look for the objects location. More impaired children may have difficulty using this app because of the visual set up.
- “Living room and kitchen level skills”: Vocabulary knowledge or use of differing vocabulary words to label home items may be an issue with some kids (e.g., Rhyming: “Do you see a word which rhymes with the word gutter?”)
- “Living room and kitchen level skills”: Lack of written support to label items and promote print recognition is a big issue for me. Since part of phonological awareness is print recognition, I do wish that all the words in the “rooms” had relevant labels. Otherwise kids may have trouble recognizing the items and what possible sounds they are supposed to have at the beginning and end of words. For example, below is a picture from a rhyming task. The question is: “Do you see something that rhymes with the word skate?” Here the child must first correctly visually identify then label all presented words in order to figure out that plate rhymes with skate. However, there are two issues here which may impact accuracy of responses. First, the child may find an item to be ambiguously looking (e.g., I personally can’t figure out what the brown football-looking object is on the far left of the picture. Perhaps it’s yam. But if it is indeed a yam, how many four year old much less two year olds can identify it unless they have to peel it daily?). Second, the child may have a different label for the object (e.g., On the far right of the picture is a spoon, but in my house we would call it a ladle because of it’s large size. )
However, since all of these improvements can be easily applied in the next app version, this is certainly not a deal breaker for me especially considering the app price. It’s a mere $6.99, which is a pretty good “steal” considering what skills it targets and how young the kids can be to benefit from it since similar apps typically cost significantly more then that. You can find this app on iTunes for $6.99, or you can my Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win your own copy.
Disclaimer: Please note that after the contest’s completion the winners will be announced on the Smart Speech Therapy LLC Facebook Page as well as named by the Rafflecopter app embedded in the blog post. Due to the amount of giveaways and contests run by Smart Speech Therapy LLC, winners will NOT be individually notified by email. Failure to claim your prize within a 3 day period following the contest’s completion will result in the forfeit of your prize.