GeoMatry, by Fernando Pires, is a one of a kind app that openly portrays how a child problem solves or thinks. The game is based partly on the beautiful Matryoshka nesting dolls, Piaget’s theories on cognitive development, and elements of sensory calming/alerting techniques through the use of universal tones. It then elegantly morphs these learning concepts into so much more. Beginning with simple shapes that fit together, game play consists of nesting a variety of shapes making a coherent whole from the sum of its parts. Each shape puzzle is presented slowly, and gradually builds in its complexity and demands and includes active engagement in tool use, and learning to wait. Deep rich resonating tones are provided when you have successfully solved a piece to the puzzle, and if you wait after the shape is completed, you are rewarded with a nice calming animation and then a quick alerting tone to help you move on. The transference from completed puzzle to animation is slow moving and that in itself keeps the user calm and alert and also translates to helping kids slow down to look at all the options and make the right decisions in the next puzzle. Most of my kids couldn’t wait and hurriedly sped through to the next shape, but it was interesting to view the ones that did. Those who waited seemed more grounded and connected to the work.
Not all puzzles are played out in the same way. There are multiple ways to accomplish some of the tasks and it is interesting to see how kids try out a hypothesis. Puzzles introduced later have a sequence to unlock – they either need to be altered in some way or you need to use a tool. Rotating and growing buttons for the pieces are for example some of the tasks to discover, and it is wonderful that they are not always placed in the same place. This helps kids take the time to scan and problem solve. The games develop organically and there is no applause or music playing once you have succeeded solving a puzzle. In fact, the game has no narration or direction and that helps build initiative and thereby confidence. I do wish I had the option to change the background color to black for some of the low vision kids I see. Every kid I played with took this game to the end, and that is the sign of a great design and learning tool.
- Promotes independent learning skills
- Refines learning to target, drag and drop
- Facilitates the ability to wait and think before taking action
- Safe environment for experimentation and exploration of spatial abilities and qualities
- Nice use of sensory strategies of both calming and alerting tones that help provide the “just right” state of mind for learning
- Builds confidence
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years, and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play everyday; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.