Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Syntax City! App Review and Giveaway

Recently, the developers, Smarty Ears, contacted me about reviewing their new iPad app: Syntax City!  Over the last couple weeks, I have been able to review this detailed app with my first grader at home and at work with one of my first grade groups and a third grader.  While the developers report that this app is appropriate for elementary and middle school aged users, I found it best suited my younger, elementary students.  Let's take a closer look at the settings and play modes for Syntax City!

When you first enter the app, you are greeted with a letter from the mayor of Syntax City!  You may also chose to take a tour through a tutorial that lasts just under 10 minutes.  I would like to see the developers improve the tutorial as it contains some revisions and does not sound fluid for instructional purposes.

Next, you will need to set up some profiles.  Type in the user name and chose either an avatar or photo image for a visitor badge.  Up to five users can 'visit the city' at one time.  You could also opt for a 'quick play' with one player, which will give you a chance to play and collect data, but the information will not save in 'quick play' mode.  At any time, you can remove badges too by deleting users.
Quick and Easy Set-Up
Quick Play Screen
While in settings mode, you can also chose the following:
  • Play Audio on/off
  • Remove error choices or allow users to hear a buzzer when incorrect
  • Recorder on/off

Before playing, you need to select the players that will visit, and then the next screen will show you selected users on the bottom.  Simply drag and click users to any area you desire.  Even better, you can bring one user to multiple locations.  This is my favorite feature because you can target each individuals goal all during one game!!  Fantastic!!  When you drag a user to a location, you will be prompted to select a level of difficulty.  Some locations have more options for levels than others.
Drag Users to Desired Locations
The Ski Resort Offers Two Levels of Play
The Zoo Offers Three Levels of Play
Syntax city is primarily a receptive language app, as the user is given 2-3 word choices to fill in the blanks for sentences.  However, you can also work on expressive language skills by having users record correct sentences, thereby giving users a chance to hear auditory feedback of syntactically correct sentences.  By recording, you can also address any articulation concerns by having clients self-rate their utterances. 
Initially, the first thing that caught my eye about this app, was the clever, categorical layout of the city.  You have the option of visiting any or all of the following locations:
  • Plurals Zoo
  • Was-Were Bakery
  • 3rd Person Singular Beach
  • He-She Ski Resort
  • Do-Does Gym
  • Irregular Past Tense Farm
  • Is-Are Park
  • Have-Has Grocery
After dragging players to locations, you can begin playing.  When you first enter a location, you will see a scene related to that destination and hear a cute passage that talks about the importance of using that particular syntax appropriately.
Play commences with users shown his or her visitor badge in the upper left hand corner of the screen.  A picture scene that matches the location appears with a sentence and 2-3 word choices.  Sentences are read aloud and users must tap the correct word choice to fill in the blank.  Unfortunately, the audio stops as soon as the user makes a selection.  I would like to see the audio play the entire sentence even if answer choices are selected quickly. 

The absolute highlight for all my trial users was earning prizes for correct answer choices.  Each location has a shelf load of items that relate to the destination.  For example, accurate answers on the beach earn you prizes like a beach towel, chair, and container of sea salt.  I REALLY like the categorization design for prizes too!  We have been reviewing the prize shelf, and then removing pictures and talking about the items we can recall from that category.

Also included in this app is a data collection screen.  This page tracks each users performance in each location when you play in the 'visit the city' mode.  You can opt to email, print or copy this page for fast and efficient data collection!

Overall, I was pleased with this app and will definitely use it during my group speech and language sessions as it covers such a great variety of syntactical goals!  I look forward to reviewing more apps by Smarty Ears and sharing this information with you!

While Smarty Ears provided me with codes to review and raffle Syntax City! , all opinions expressed in this post are solely mine. 

Try your luck below for a code for Syntax City!  This app is typically priced at $39.99, but the company often has sales!  If you join their Facebook page, you will have a better chance of tracking sales!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hii! Love the review! I would love to have this for my speech room!

  2. Thank you so much for this review!

    1. You're very welcome!! Thanks again for reaching out and giving me an opportunity to review and raffle it!!

  3. Looks like an awesome app:) I love using Custom Boards! I use it ALL the time! This looks like a great one to add to the collection. Thanks for the giveaway:)

  4. I don't own any Smarty Ears apps but would love to have this one! I have a lot of kids who would benefit from using this and, even better,they would enjoy it!

  5. I have a bunch of the Smarty Ears apps and love them! Articulate It!, Language Adventures, and R Intensive are probably the ones I use the most, but I also have Fun and Functional, Go-Togethers, WhQuestions, Categories Learning Center, Preposition Remix, and iPractice Verbs.