appp media UG's newest addition to their spatial awareness and logical thinking apps, “Volume 3, The Airport" is everything you could want or expect from an early learning app. The illustrations are fun and engaging and this app gets an immediate response from kids wanting to play and take their turn. Along with the award winning Volume 1- Vehicles and Volume 2- The Circus, The Airport contains excellent learning tools for preschoolers as well as a way to visually explore, rehearse and talk about taking a trip on an airplane. There is also something new in The Airport, which brings the skill sets learned, closer to helping them transition from cause and effect play, to learning that reading is simply cracking a code of letter puzzlers. There are 4 activities: puzzles, the turning game, the pinball game, and the new spot the difference game. Activities are graded for extended play value and in the new spot the difference game, the puzzles are not static and change upon reopening the game to a new set of discoveries.
The Puzzles – In the puzzles, choose the level of difficulty and need for fine motor planning. The puzzles are set from 2 to 9 pieces and the orientation can be aligned or skewed. Skewing the alignment requires the use of either 2 fingers or the thumb and forefinger to turn and orient the pieces to place. There is a great animation of a clown tooting his horn when you are successful, and it really makes you just thrilled with yourself when he comes out. Observing how kids’ problem solve and tackle this reflects their motor planning abilities, their hand skill maturation, and ability to orient objects and themselves in space.
The Turning Game- In this game, one spins a dial connecting two halves to a picture to make it whole. There is a fun animation for completing each game. As an OT, I love this game not only for learning laterality (left and right sides of the body), but also for its feature on learning how to anticipate what should happen next intuitively. This not only helps kids extend their confidence and competency over cause and effect play, but gives them a sense of order and organization or to put it in better terms they learn that they can make an impact on their world rather than having their world happen upon them.
The Pinball Game- In this game, integration of spatial perception and motor abilities come into play. There are 2 choices or levels of difficulty. In the chosen scene you can drag and drop the pinball into its hole or play the higher level choice of tilting the iPad. The benefit of this game is to visually track, anticipate, and execute a motor action (often crossing midline) to be successful. By working small gradations of head and neck control and coordinating the movement of the eyes and hands together, it sets a child up to be able to read and write in a smooth coordinated manner. It keeps words on a line going from left to right and top to bottom. There are cute and funny animations to each pinball sink that keeps motivation high.
Spot the difference- This is not your ordinary spot the difference game. Yes, there is the usual comparison of two screens, where you find the differences, but in Appp Media’s version you tap the differences on one screen and then the other, causing you to shift your gaze from one point to another. This is just genius on the part of the developer as it helps prep a child to look from the class board in front of the room and then to the paper on their desk. Being able to shift gaze and stay on track is a tough skill to learn.
Do I have all three volumes? Yes and here is why. I typically will buy different versions of a game, as I want to make sure that the kids I see begin to generalize the skills they are learning and not get stuck on applying a skill to one set of circumstances. With each different version, there is also another layer of game play added, in terms of new features, vocabulary, levels of difficulty etc. The chances to relate to real world activities such as in The Airport as to what to expect from an airport and the airplane ride is priceless as a social story in the guise of a game. And finally, tailoring the game play to what will motivate a single child.
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.