Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fun and Functional by Smarty Ears- App Review

The folks at Smarty Ears have been rather busy!  They recently released several apps, one of which is called: Fun and Functional.  While there are many components to Fun and Functional, it primarily strives to teach the function of common objects.  The developers state that it is geared towards individuals of all ages; however, I found it best suited the younger clients on my elementary caseload given the visuals and audio reinforcement.  Fun and Functional uses computer generated pictures of objects in both receptive and expressive game modes.  Each time you get an answer correct, you hear the same child-like cheers.  I would like to see the developers give you an option to silence these cheers or add verbal reinforcers instead of cheering such as, "That's correct, we use a flashlight to help us see in the dark." Let's take a closer look at some visuals from Fun and Functional.

I was delighted to see how many choices you can control for game play!  For starters, you can select from 10 categories for questions, all of which are functional (pun intended) for young children.  These categories range from household objects to school items.

Next on the settings screen, you can select from 3 options for receptive play: less similar, more similar, or both.  In the first choice, you would see answer choices that are not closely related to each other, making game play a bit less challenging.

If you choose to display pictures that were more similar, then you would be shown answer choices with objects more closely related.  For example, in the picture below, you need to answer the question: "What vehicle do people use to travel places by air?" As you can see, there are two pictures that show vehicles that can fly, but only one object best answers this question.

If you only need to work on expressing functions of objects, then you would forgo receptive questions by selecting the expressive button on the settings screen.  Personally, I REALLY liked that you could select alternating receptive and expressive because the receptive ones give you a clue about answering the expressive.  If you select alternating, then you will first see the receptive question followed by the expressive.

You get even MORE options because you can pick how many answer choices you want to be shown per question: two, three, or four.  The fewer the choices, the easier the task.  Finally, you can pick feedback for errors.  "Keep going" means you hear a low tone error sound and get automatically taken to the next question.  "Remove item" silently takes the choice away so you can try again.  "Buzz" means you hear an error tone and see a message flash across the screen that reads: "Try Again" before you attempt the question again.

You of course can bypass all the set up options and hit "Quick Play" to start a mixed expressive and receptive game with four answer choices.

While playing the game, you can take an opportunity to ask other questions about objects, such as: "Where might you find a flashlight?" or "When do you need a flashlight?" At any point, you can select "Done" in the upper left hand corner and get a results page on the screen that you can email.

Overall, I liked this Fun and Functional app for my young clients (K-2) who always seem to have more difficulty describing the functional use of common objects!  Since it is nearly impossible for me to turn off the teacher mode in me,  I would really like to see the reinforcers change from the cheer to a verbal reinforcement that reiterates the correct choice.  

You can purchase Fun and Functional for your iPhone or iPad for $9.99 at iTunes.  

Disclosure:  While the generous folks at Smarty Ears provided me a code to review this app, no other compensation was received for this write-up.  All opinions are solely mine.

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