NOTE: This review was originally written in January 2014 and was re-posted. The app was not re-reviewed. The original post is available here.
Key Word Kids by Language and Learning Steps Pty. Ltd is a learning app designed for iOS and the iPad. The app focuses on language comprehension and language expression using the “information carry word approach” using two characters Steffy and James and their interactions within the app. Children are tested when they first open the app to determine what level they are at with examples of “show me the ball” as well as two other examples. Based upon that the app provides recommendations on where you or your child should start within the app. As the child progresses within the app, they must understand and follow directions using comprehension skills or use specific words to express objects related to a specific theme such as farm, house, beach, Outback, and Africa.
In the expressive section, you can select an object like boots and record your voice giving directions such as “put the red boots in the closet” to describe a specific action. Skills practiced in the app include: expressive and receptive language, finding objects, fine motor skills for the games, naming and describing objects, following directions and a series of steps. Language and Learning Steps was formed in 2013 when developing an educational therapy language app, based on the Derbyshire Language Program. Sue and Janet have developed this iOS App while participating in the Germinate Program of iLab, Uniquest (University of Queensland, Australia).
My son enjoyed the expressive section of the app where he could “build” a scene using various objects, once it was built we talked about what was in the scene before I recorded – or he recorded a description of it. You can either “save” the scene for future use or “reset” it to put it back to a blank slate. When you put the characters into the scene they could be doing specific tasks such as hopping or walking which was described when you inserted it into the scene. My son really enjoyed this aspect of the app and we used the expressive portion to test his learning from the comprehension and direction part of the app. We also used it to describe sequencing for routines such as bedtime or reading. books.
The comprehensive section of the app allows you to practice comprehension of two, three, four and five word sentences. For example, you were asked “Where is teddy’s ball” which required you to find teddy on the screen and then isolate out the ball. You were given up to four tries to complete a task successfully. There is also a replay button which will repeat the words spoken on the screen if your child misses them the first time.
In the comprehension game, after successfully completing several screens you are rewarded with a game including: pop the bubbles (which asks you to pick red versus blue) and you are awarded points for successful completion. Other games include the colour machine, water balloons, toy beat and ball smash. You can also opt to skip the game as well. The colour machine has you sort objects by color into three “buckets” of colors and awards points for successful completion. The games practice expressive as well as fine motor skills. My son had the most trouble with the water balloon game which required the character to dodge the water balloons and required precision in timing the running back and forth of the character. he toy beat was a really fun game which required you to listen to music as well as following along to ensure that you tapped on the stars as they fell to make music. This was by far my son’s favorite! The last game requires you to “toy smash” all of a specific object, in this game you have to smash the bouncy balls with your finger which turns them into even smaller balls.
In terms of enhancements, I would like to see a multi-user capability added to the app. Currently there is only one user so if you want to use it with multiple children you either need to use the same profile for all of them or lose your progress upon starting with another child. The app is done with a Australian localized accent which was a bit challenging for my son who speaks American English. For example, “Zebra” wasn’t spoken in the same way that he was used to hearing it and it asked him to find a biscuit (aka cookie) – this is something that you should be aware of. Things contained in this section include: find a specific item, perform a specific tasks, which animal is big/small, give the animal some water, finding an object in the field of objects. As you progress directions get harder, such as brush Steffy’s teeth which requires finding the toothbrush and brushing her teeth. Other tasks include, finding a specific thing on a object such as the dog’s head or taking the boat to dad. It would also be nice to pick an avatar which matches the child either boy or girl for use in the games. It would also be nice if when the child is asked to find an object – such as one that purrs that it not only has the cat purr but also says the name of the animal as well to connect the name of the object with the picture and sound.
The app contains no external links or advertising and is child safe. Great app for practicing expressive and receptive language skills as well as following directions. Designed for children aged toddler though elementary school with special focus on special needs. I can see using this app in early intervention as well as in elementary school to practice skills with elementary school aged children especially around pronunciation of objects and describing them.
Key Word Kids
by Language And Learning Steps Pty.Ltd
Price: $24.99 USD
"Great app for practising expressive and receptive language skills and following directions." - The iMums
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.