We’ve all come to recognize Les Trois Elles Interactive as a leader in making great educational apps, and Astropolo joins the ranks in helping to develop a ready and able student. Gameplay centers on learning to discriminate, process and to modulate one’s responses to visual, auditory and fine motor demands. From a sensory point of view, that’s a trifecta as coordinating these systems helps to provide a consistent reference point of self from which to make responses and/or operate. I am so excited by how innovative and unique this app is, and how it can directly impact a child’s ability to perform. Let’s take a look at what makes it is so exceptional.
The premise of the game is to help an astronaut reach the planet Tropy by completing 8 missions that involve coordinating perception and our ability to discriminate and modulate our response. First stop is to create your rocket, and then send it off into space with a voice-activated lift off. Too soft a voice or an inability to sustain sound and you can't achieve liftoff. Games like these help some kids find their voice, and there is nothing like just belting out a countdown and liftoff to put a smile on your face. Next up is another chance to practice voice control by softly singing to Zleepy to help him sleep. I really appreciate the range of control with these two mini-games, and it is a good way to talk about inside/outside voices as well as having kids work on breath control.
We now find ourselves on the Santa Planet, where Santa is sad – crying even because his reindeer have run off and he needs to catch them. Across the screen unicorns, elephants, and zebras run rampant with the missing reindeer. Finding and tapping on the reindeer capture them for Santa and help build strong visual motor skills. By visually crossing midline and incorporating both sides of the body to complete a task, it sets a student up for smooth sequential reading and writing in the future. The next planet also deals with visual scanning and making a motor response.
Mr. Kissnot is a cranky alien that needs some love, and by drawing him hearts, he calms down. I like how the quest is to make a heart using one continuous line, as it demands control through the ability to start and stop and produce a symmetrical drawing – all good precedents for learning to write. Boogie Polo and Astros landing coordinate all 3 systems: visual, auditory and motor. Coordinating vision and auditory input with a motor act gives kids to practice and helps them feel more confident about their choices and interacting in the world...and that leads to self-initiation and competency. Something we want for all our kids.
Each game can serve as a launching point for a variety of skill sets, and you can use any of the mini games as a warm up before the more intensive instruction to help a student center and focus. The themes are all familiar and some relate to daily routines or issues that may come up for kids, i.e. watching Santa cry or seeing Mr. Kissnot get so cranky can also lead the way for playing with and working on early strategies for self-regulation. The graphics by Chloe Mazlo are phenomenal, and the music/sound effects are a joy. You do have the option to turn off the music for more sensitive kids, and then re-introduce it as a child progresses. Running on my iPad Air, I had no crashes or delays. This app is a keeper.
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 every day; so that "her kids" grow up to be healthy independent learners.