Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rainbow Sentences iPad app Review (TOS)

We've had our iPad for almost a year now, and boy howdy have we been having fun! :) In addition to all the fun games, and "portability of the web" that we enjoy, I am very pleased and amazed with the number and quality of educational apps that are out there.

One such app is Mobil Education Store Rainbow Sentences for iPad,®, which some TOS Review Crew members received for review (others received the Story Builder app for review).

While Rainbow Sentences was developed as a speech and language tool to help developer Kyle Tomson's daughter (who is on the autism spectrum) with her language delay, it is a useful tool that I feels defies some of the more common "labeling."

Because I am not a fan of reinventing the wheel (and I don't have an iPad simulator... ;D ), I'm going to share the Mobil Education Store Rainbow Sentences video tutorial with you. While it runs close to 10 minutes, it really gives a great feel for the app, and will help my comments on the app make complete sense. If you have time at all, please watch this first.

Rainbow Sentences teaches and/or reinforces basic sentence structure and builds up to more complex structures. This is done through color coding of sentence parts (there are 55 sentences in each level to allow for plenty of practice and success).

Level 1 includes
Who or What  the sentence is about
What they are doing

Level 2 adds
Where the action is taking place and sometimes
what the subject is doing the action to.

Level 3 is the most complex level, and adds to the previous 2 levels
Why the action is taking place, and sometimes
What the the subject is doing the action to.

Here are some of the things that really impressed me with this program:

All learning styles are addressed with this app, as is true with many apps, but I felt that Rainbow Sentences really succeeds very well on many levels. 

Visually there are pictures (Which stimulated all sorts of "Why is that happening? or What do you think they did that for?" sorts of questions from my 4 year old) as well as color coded words and/or lines (There is an option to turn the color coding off either word or lines or both. What a great tool for learning!).

Auditory~ I think the best way for you to get a sense of the auditory features would be to see (or rather hear) the app in action. If you didn't already watch the video I included above, hit play and then drag the cursor to the 2 minute mark, when actual play begins. The instructions are very clear, and depending on the amount of structure your child needs, can be turned on or off (More on the auditory aspect in a bit).

Finally, the kinesthetic value comes into play when dragging the correct word (as it is spoken in the program) to the correct line. Each correctly built sentence receives positive auditory reinforcement, and incorrect sentences are given further chances to be built correctly. After a second incorrect attempt, an instructive screen appears that shows how a sentence of that type should be built. The student is then returned to the previous screen. The words in the correct positions remain, and the incorrect words are returned to the bottom of the screen to be dragged up once again, hopefully to the correct spot in the sentence.

After the sentence is correctly assembled, there is an option for the student to record the sentence. This is where I really appreciated the "Speech" aspect of this program. I put together the following clip from a couple of the saved sentence files which I emailed to myself~ the first one with the kangaroo was the 8th sentence we saved, the second, with the ants was the 45th sentence (He's almost done with level one!). In addition to working on his "s" sounds, we started working on the "f" sound. The difference between "Falling" and "Food" was amazing to me! :) 

This is definitely an app that I see growing with my youngest, and one that I feel will help him learn basic sentence structures somewhat organically. I have to say that I was delighted to realize that he does recognize when beginning to drag the words up, whether they make sense. The foundation for sentence structure appears to be fairly strong in his little brain already!

I can't really say that I found any cons to this particular app. The only suggestion I might make would be to label the parts of speech with their color coding in the information section, so that a more independent child would know exactly what they are looking at. 

~The Not-so-Nutty Nitty Gritty~

As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you determine where to best spend your homeschool budget. 



Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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