From the makers of Foldify, comes their newest app Storest. It is truly an interactive app for kids of all ages (as every therapist, teacher, or parent could not stop playing!). The store is divided into two areas of play – being a customer or cashier. Tasks include planning a menu, budgeting, shopping, paying for items and making change. Kids work both on screen and off screen to set up, and then handle the materials in order to run a store. Many many apps talk about improving fine motor control, but I have to say, Storest delivers. Learning to point or target is a goal for apps in general, and I have found that for most kids and many adults (myself included) tend to point with all their fingers opened, rather than using a true point with the index finger and the remaining fingers tucked into the palm when interacting with the screen. Why is this important? It is important in that the act of isolating the index finger with the other fingers tucked helps develop hand separation skills and promotes strengthening the little muscles in the hand. You use the little muscles in your hand for grading and precision when pursuing fine motor tasks like handling small manipulatives, cutting with scissors, and writing. The kids who complain about their hands hurting when doing tasks or try to escape fine motor work, are in effect telling you the task is too hard. They either have a hard time visual-motor wise coordinating the tasks or their muscles are too weak to finish. Squeezing a ball does not build up the little muscles in the hand. Kids actively cut out, fold, and manipulate items in play with Storest, all the while building up those little muscles as well as their endurance and attention with fine motor tasks. Plus, having done all this work makes kids invested in the task. This app helps kid’s work on so many skills depending on how it is set up, and it is FUN! You can’t ask for more than that. Let’s take a closer look at the two modes of play, and some of the many ways to use this wonderful app both at home and in the school setting. I am sure you can probably think of more once your store is up and running!
Grab your cart, and let’s get shopping. So, what are you planning for dinner? What ingredients do you need? Did you just stop in for a quick tour of the toy aisle and an apple? The app has all the sights and sounds of a real store beautifully rendered and recorded. First stop is the meat counter, then fish, deserts, fruit, vegetables, bread, and oh yeah – the toy aisle! Fill your cart with whatever you wish. When you get to the checkout, place your items on the conveyor belt. Watch as each item is entered and scanned, and when the last item goes through, your grand total comes up and you will need to pay. Money is given to the cashier in either the correct amount or if over paying, change is given. This gives kids both practice in counting money precisely, or learning to round up and estimate how much is needed at the counter. We had brainstormed at work some ways to use this app in OT. Making a shopping list before you play can work on handwriting skills, the ability to count money and/or change, plan a menu, and making healthy food choices are all life skills that kids need to work on in order to be successful.
Now let’s switch roles and become the cashier. First you need to print, then cut out the many items with their scanning code as well as the merchandise holders. Placing the items in their respective holder sets up, you or your partner (if you choose to have kids work in pairs) to begin shopping for items. Here you can introduce concepts of sorting, matching, and classifying foods and also the number or amount of food needed to be bought. – “How many apples, oranges and grapes would we need, if we are making a fruit salad for 4 people?” By placing the merchandise holders around a room or clinic, you can help kids not only motor plan, but also engage working memory as to where a specific item is located. My gosh, you can work in standing, crawling, or even navigating by wheelchair to fill your basket. Placing some items high or low will also work on transitional movements and positions. Once all your items are selected….it’s checkout time! Here you really need to position the scanning code over the iPad to scan in the item. I did print up a copy of the items to practice cutting and also laminated a copy for on the fly play. Holding the pictures so they can be scanned is no easy task, and kids need to practice a bit to be precise.
This app is a must have for all OT/ST clinics as well as classrooms working on subjects applicable to store play. I highly recommend it and would love to hear in what ways you used it for your class or clinic.
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.