Feel Electric

Feel Electric Free by Sesame Street is jam packed with games and words about how you feel.  This app will is appropriate for grades 1-3. It has won 2013 ON for Learning Award  and the  2012 Parents’ Choice Recommended.    There are not many apps that help students under

feel electric their moods and why they may have these moods.  Every time you open the app you have two friendly characters Jessica Ruiz and Danny Rebus who invite you into the app.  The first step is the mood sphere .  Students have to pick 3 words that describe how they are feeling.  Some of the words may be new vocabulary words for younger students.  Teachers or parents may have to explain the meaning.

Next, there are minimal settings from sound to scores.  The app allows up to four player to use the app at one time.

Now you are ready to delve into the 4 different area of the app.  You can play What’s the Word.  This is a great way to develop vocabulary and match the facial expression that goes along with with the word.  First you will see a face and a word.  If you think it is correct the meaning will appear.  Mood words are words like anxious, bothered, cheerful, etc.  It is really nice to have  audio added with the definition for non-readers.  When you are ready to go to the next area you touch the house in the upper left corner. The choices are My Life, My Games, and My Stuff.

My Life has three components. First there is Moon Dude.  Mood Dude is a cartoon figure that allows you to change the facial expression of how you are feeling today.  Mood Tales are stories like Mad Libs where you add the words. The titles though are about moods like “Boy, Am Angry! Outraged, Even!  or A Delightful Picnic.  These are fun and increase reading, vocabulary and parts of speech. The last game is the Moodosphere. These relate to the words you chose in the beginning in the app.

The next part of the app is My Stuff.  It allows you to add pictures or take pictures.  It is like having a scrapbook of different events.

Finally, there are 3 games related to moods.  Pets vs Monsters students have to move a bat to match the picture they see. This is also good for fine motor movement. Prankster Madness is also a mood game where students need to tilt the iPad to match the words with the man on the skateboard. The final game is Hey you Guys Catch.  The goal is to catch the face with the right mood.

The app will introduce you to 50 emotion words and definitions, builds emotional awareness, and encourages self expression.

Duckie Deck

Duckie Deck , by Duckie Deck Development, FREE learn about sharing with your peers for pre school– older children with Autism.  Learning how to share at a young age is extremely important for young children to comprehend not just through  words but actions really clarify HOW to share with friends of all races.   The app includes a matching game where each child cheers after their friend takes a turn. There is one game with objects and three children hoping for particular gifts. It shows their disgruntled faces when they do not get the gifts they want. It makes for a great discussion about being grateful when we get something. It is important to talk about feelings and what faces look like when a child is unhappy.  Each story continue to show or talk about sharing experiences.  They each teach a different lesson to help children understand when one person gets all of one object and the others get none.

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As children grow they will remember this lesson because it does have impact on children’s lives. We realize we need to tech this skill early whether the child has a disability or not.  This app also has some fun interactive interaction in addition to sharing keeping up the children’s curiosity.  Duckie Deck is a fun interactive FREE app that goes a long way!  Enjoy now while it’s FREE!

Between the Lines Advanced

betweenthelines2Are you aware of facial expressions when someone is speaking? Do you pay attention to body language or try to empathize with the speaker to understand his or her perspective?

Unfortunately, for kids with autism spectrum disorders, it can be hard to be aware of the subtle expressions and slang that we normally take for granted. For instance, perspective taking (as speech-language pathologist Jill Kuzma explains here) calls on many of the executive functions of the brain. It requires inhibitory control of our own thoughts and    feelings in order to consider the perspectives of others, cognitive flexibility to see a situation in different ways, and the ability to consider someone else’s thinking alongside our own.

Jill’s “Between the Lines” series of apps, which comes in levels 1, 2, and advanced, was released in the fall of 2012. I was anxious to review the advanced version as there are very few apps for older students.  As the name suggests, the app offers a series of exercises organized around three objectives:

  • listening and facial expressions;
  • body-language and perspectives;
  • everyday expressions, idioms and slang.

This app is one of the main apps we use for our social skills group. Depending on the amount of free time I have, I use it for anywhere between one to five students. It has been about three months since I started using it, and I must say it is probably one of the most realistic apps I have used with both developmentally-delayed and autistic students.

The app allows teachers to tweak a number of settings, including how many answer choices are available, whether or not a bell sound (“ding!”) accompanies each correct response, and the sequence for how activities are displayed. There are also three “Reward Games” that can be enabled or disabled, depending on the teachers’ preference.

One good follow-up exercise, after using the app, is to have students use iMovie to record themselves re-enacting some of the scenes from Between the Lines. They can share that with others, and have their classmates guess his or her emotions or thoughts based on body language and expressions seen in the video. My students love to see themselves in actions and have their classmates give a verbal critique. And most importantly, I find that their grasp of perspective taking and empathy have improved.