The Social Express by The Language Express – Review

The Social Express by The Language Express – Review



Reviewed by Mary

What we love…

Variety of materials included within the app aimed at children and young adults with social learning challenges

What we’d love to see…

how are they feeling” section is just a match the facial expressions game, I would like to see this changed to matching the expression to the name of the feeling e.g. mad, sad, angry, frustrated.

lower price point for the app (although it is currently on sale)

Summary

This program is very well done- it has high quality graphics and animation. My 8 year-old found it very engaging – he really wanted to watch all the videos and help solve the questions. The ideas behind it – the “hidden social cues” are simple basic rules for social interactions but ones that some children (both on the Autism Spectrum and off of it) need a lot of help learning

The Social ExpressThe Social Express by The Language Express Inc. is an app for children and young adults with social learning challenges; it is primarily aimed at Elementary School -aged children. It is available for the iPad, Mac and PC. The app consists of a series of short animated videos about a group of friends – Emma, Zack, Katie, Sam and Sunny (Emma’s dog). During each video you see the characters interacting with each other and you get to help choose what they will say or do next. After you make a choice you get to see the consequences of that choice. Although kids will naturally try to pick the “right” choice it is useful also to have them see what happens when you make the wrong choice. The app is designed to be used with an adult rather than independently. It works best if you stop and discuss what is going on in the videos, and talk about what happens if you choose the various options.

The app is divided into 2 levels. Level 1 is for younger children or those who have difficulty understanding social interactions. Level 2 is useful for children who understand social rules but have difficulty applying them in real life. You have to work your way through the lessons in order to unlock the next lesson. These are the subjects included in the 2 levels:

Level 1: What Are They thinking? Being With The Group. Pick The Feeling. Using the DPS (Digital Problem Solver). What’s Next? What Are They Doing? Saying The Right Thing. Unlocking The Clubhouse – this is a reinforcing activity, where the child is shown 2 pictures or movies clips and has to pick the one that correctly illustrates the hidden social clue.

Level 2: Watch What I Do. Using our Friend Files. Thinking about Your Friend. Using The DPS. What is Their Plan? What does That Mean? Having A Conversation. Unlocking The Clubhouse.

To give you an idea of what is included in each level, I will describe a little from one lesson of each level:

Level 1 – What Are They Doing? In this video Zach and Emma are taking turns acting out various actions and guessing what was acted out. In one scene you have to choose between Zach brushing his teeth and eating a hamburger, another time between playing a guitar and playing the drums. This lesson is teaching the child to look at the person who is talking, so that you can read their body language.

Level 2 – Having a conversation. This video has a series of short scenes, in each scene one of the friends is talking and the other has to decide how to respond. In one scene Emma is talking about her dog Sunny and you have to decide whether Zach should respond with “how old is she?” or “are you going to the movies?” If you pick the correct response the conversation carries on, if not Emma gets mad that he is changing the subject then you get to try again with the correct response

The app comes with a series of printables -I recommend you download and print these before starting to use the app. You can print these directly from the Mac or PC version or from the iPad using an Air Print printer. If you have the iPad version and no Air Print printer the developer will send you a PDF to allow you to print them. The printables include character profiles, a list of the Hidden Social Keys, coping strategies, and feelings cards. Each of the printable has space to add your own ideas too.

The DPS is an iPhone app that Social Express has just released (in April 2012). It works on recognizing feelings and choosing coping strategies for them. The child can flip through the feelings cards and pick how they are feeling, then see the suggested coping strategies for that feeling. You can customise it by adding your own extra feeling cards and your own coping strategies. If you don’t have the DPS or don’t have an iPhone or iTouch to use it on, you can use the printables to make 2 booklets that you can use in place of the DPS. I would recommend printing out the feelings cards, then using the coping strategies cards as a starting point to decide which strategies help your child for each feeling. Next write on the back of each feelings card what coping strategies help for that situation (adding any of your own that work for your child too). Once you are happy with your child’s personalized list of feelings and associated coping strategies, then laminate the cards and put a ring through them, making your own durable version of the DPS.

Things I would like to see changed: at the moment the “how are they feeling” section is just a match the facial expressions game, I would like to see this changed to matching the expression to the name of the feeling e.g. mad, sad, angry, frustrated. I would also like to see the price point of the app lower than $89.99 which is out of reach for many families, at the moment it is on sale for $29.99 – which is much more affordable.

This program is very well done- it has high quality graphics and animation. My 8 year-old found it very engaging – he really wanted to watch all the videos and help solve the questions. The ideas behind it – the “hidden social cues” are simple basic rules for social interactions but ones that some children (both on the Autism Spectrum and off of it) need a lot of help learningThis program isn’t a magic fix for social problems, but it is a good place to start. To make the most of this program you need to invest time in it, sitting down with your child, watching the videos together and discussing them. Then, just as importantly, you need to create a plan and continue working on using these skills and implementing them in real life situations. If you are a parent with a child who struggles socially and needs help learning these rules, and you are willing to invest the required time and energy, then I would recommend you strongly consider buying this program. There is a free lite version you can buy to see if it is a good fit for your child. If you are just going to watch the videos and nothing else, then it probably isn’t worth spending $90 on.

by

Category:
Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

$


Note – the developer has just let us know that they will be discontinuing support for this app and removing  it from the App Store in January 2014.  They are moving to a subscription based model.

Code drop Dec 18th

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Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
 Shape Arts: Geometry Creations By Lighthouse Learning- Review

Shape Arts: Geometry Creations By Lighthouse Learning- Review




iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

Fun but educational, huge number of puzzles, ability to create your own tangram puzzles.

What we’d love to see…

I’d love to see a section where you could choose yourself how many of each shape to include in the puzzle you create.

Summary

Shape Art stands out from other Tangram apps due to the huge number of puzzles, new puzzles being constantly added and the ability to create your own puzzles. Highly recommended !

Our Rating

Shape Arts: Geometry CreationsShape Arts: Geometry Creations is the second educational app from British app developer Lighthouse Learning. In their first app Dragon Shapes Geometry Challenge students learned how to solve Tangram puzzles, and explored geometry by learning how geometric shapes could be used to create other shapes. In this app the theme is continued with lots of new Tangram Puzzles to solve, and the opportunity to create their own. The app is child-friendly with no adverts or in-app purchases and all external links are in a parents area, accessed by pressing and holding for four seconds.

The Tangram puzzles are sorted into 6 different categories:

Easy

The simplest Tangrams, this is a great place to start before moving on to the more complex puzzles.

My Puzzlets

This is where you can access the Tangram Puzzles you have created yourself.

Creatures

Tangrams that look like different animals.

People

Tangrams that look like people in different poses.

New

When people create new puzzles within the app the developers pick their favorites and add them to the app, so everyone can access them. This section highlights the most recently added puzzles.

Popular

This section highlights the most popular puzzles in the app and can be a good place for experienced Tangram solvers to pick a new challenge.

20131213-141943.jpg

Solving the Tangrams

Once you have picked a puzzle to work on, tapping it takes you into puzzle-solving mode. Here you will see a grey outline of the image(s) you are trying to create, plus a number of colored geometric shapes. The shapes available exactly match what you need to solve the puzzle. To place a piece tap and drag it, a circular arrow will appear over the piece which allows you to easily rotate it to the desired angle. If you get stuck at any point tap on the lightbulb and it will show the correct position of one piece. Tapping it more times shows more pieces, so you can have as many clues as you need. After you have correctly solved the puzzle you can choose to move on to the next puzzle or create your own Tangram using the pieces from the puzzle you just solved.

20131213-141958.jpg

Creating Tangrams

You can create new Tangrams two ways – from the “My Puzzlets” section or after completing one of the pre-made puzzles. If you make it after solving a puzzle you get the same pieces to work with that the solved puzzle contained. In the “My Puzzlets” section you get a set of the following pieces: two large triangles, two small triangles, one medium triangle, one square and one parallelogram. There is a grid to place the shapes on, and the 2 rules are: that pieces mustn’t overlap, and that you must use all pieces. To see what your creation would look like as a Tangram press the green arrow and you get to preview it, if you are happy with it you can save it, if not you can edit it. You can also take a picture of your creation during the process of making it or when you have completed it.

20131213-142037.jpg

Tangrams are great puzzles for giving your brain a good work out and getting you to look at shapes in different ways. There are plenty of Tangram puzzle apps available on the app store but Shape Arts: Geometry Creations has some features that make it stand out from the crowd. Firstly, it has a huge number of puzzles, and with users creating new ones all the time the number just keeps growing, so there are constantly new puzzles to challenge you. Secondly, the ability to create your own puzzles is a great feature – it is fun to create your own new puzzles and challenge family members to solve them, and even more fun when you spot one of your creations in the “new puzzle” listings ! My kids loved working their way through all the levels in Dragon Shapes Geometry Challenge and I know this is an app they will keep coming back to time after time as well, as there will constantly be new puzzles to challenge them. The app also includes different marbles you can collect as rewards for achieving milestones in creating or solving puzzles.

When my children play this app they think they are just having fun, but in reality they are also learning important mathematical concepts about the properties of shapes, and how you can use shapes to create other shapes. They learn to look at shapes from all different angles and to compare different shapes to one another. They can learn a lot with this app by just exploring it on their own, but it is also a great conversation starter for discussing terms like parallel, perpendicular and symmetry if you sit down and explore the app with them. It is also a great app for working on visual-motor skills, problem solving and spatial awareness.

Overall, a very fun app, with lots of challenges, but one that allows children (and adults) to learn through playing and problem solving. The developer recommends the app for children aged 7+. I think it will be enjoyed from age 7 up to and including adults, and that slightly younger children will enjoy the easier puzzles too. My 6 year old twins, 10 year old and I all love to solve the puzzles and to create our own.

If you would like to download this app please use this link: Shape Arts: Geometry Creations – Lighthouse Learning

Shape Arts: Geometry Creations
Shape Arts: Geometry Creations
by Lighthouse Learning

Category: Education, Puzzle, Educational, Games
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 13.61 MB

$2.99USD

Screenshots
(Click to enlarge)
Screenshots for iPad
(Click to enlarge)

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.

 

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).
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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. They have a variety of devices including an iPad, iPhone, and an iPod and is often found with a device! 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.
The iMums Gift Guide for Tech Savvy Kids

The iMums Gift Guide for Tech Savvy Kids

Christmas is coming up fast and Santa is busy making his list of whose been naughty or nice. The iMums have come up with some cool gift ideas for tech Savvy kids, these are bound to be popular under the tree this year. We haven’t personally tested all of these products but they are from reputable companies that we trust and recommend.

 

iBitz™ PowerKey Activity Tracker
Side-view-3Blue2iBitz™ PowerKey Activity Trackers by Geopalz are a great solution if you want to encourage your children to exercise more and have fun doing it. They come in a range of colors so every family member can choose their own color. The Powerkey is designed for children and comes with their own app. Children can earn points for exercising which can be exchanged for time playing video games or coins for Club Penguin or virtual food and energy for their virtual pet.The trackers are tiny and operate on a button battery that lasts approximately 6 months. They track steps, distance and calories burned.  Read our full review here. Available from iBitz.com and many retailers for US$$34.99

 

Romo Robotic Pet for iOS romo
Romo Robotic Pet by Romotive is a digital creature who lives in your iPhone or iPod Touch and explores your world on his roving base. He is simple enough to train that even children can learn how to train him using his in-app mobile training platform. you can teach him to recognize your face, or follow a colored ball, he’ll even dance to the beat if you play music.  Both 30-pin and Lightning connector versions are available.  Read our full review here  Available from Brookstone or Amazon Romo App-Controlled Robotic Pet for iOS Devices – for iPhone 5, 5s & 5c
for US$149.99

 

Lego Minecraft lego minecraftMinecraft is an incredibly popular game amongst children and is available for many platforms including iPad, Android, PC/Mac and Xbox. The game involves breaking and placing blocks. It can be used to creature structures to protect against Creepers  in survival mode. But  it  can also be used in creative mode to create wonderful, imaginative things. Fittingly for a game based on building with blocks there is a way to create your own Minecraft structures from the quintessential block building toy Legos. Children ca follow directions to create Minecraft structures and then re-build it anyway they like. Available from Lego.com, Amazon LEGO Minecraft (Original) 21102
and other retailers
 for RRP US$34.99

 

Crayola Light Marker for iPad Crayola Light Marker

The Crayola Light Marker from Griffin Technology is a fun children’s toy that is designed to be used with the iPad. The package includes the light marker, an iPad stand, battery and quick start guide. To use the marker you need to hold it 2-3 feet from the screen, and it will warn you if you are too close or too far away.> The free app that comes with it includes 6 different activities: including dot-to-dot, splatter paint, puzzles, hide and seek, coloring pages and free drawing. Read our review here. Available from Griffin Technology’s online store. and many retailers for RRP $29.99 

 

Snap CircuitsSnap circuits

Snap circuits by Elanco. If you have children who are interested in learning about electronics Snap Circuits are a wonderful way to do it. Each kit comes with a board for making your creations and a selection of electronic components that just snap together on the board- no more wires and alligator clips! The Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Kit is a great starter kit, and there are several more advanced kits and add-ons available. Each kit comes with clear easy directions for a series of experiments using the components in the kit. Once children become familiar with them they can create their own circuits too. A wonderful learning toy by kids have had 100’s of hours educational playtime from these kits Available from Amazon Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Kit
is currently approximately
 US$21

 

Ubooly Smart Toy ubooly

Ubooly is Interactive Plush Toy for iPhone or iPod touch.By downloading the free Ubooly Pet app and inserting your device into the top of the toy, Ubooly’s face magically comes to life and he interacts with the people around him via voice commands. Ubooly has a library of stories, jokes, games and other activities that are activated by the user asking for them. the Ubooly toy and app offer many hours of interactive activities and Ubooly becomes smarter the more often he is used.  Read our review here. Available from Amazon ubooly for US$29.99

 

Toca Boca T-Shirts and Toca Monster Socks toca-tshirt_product-image_2_bb1c78af-5104-4ba6-8cba-044ee361bf93

Toca Boca has the be the biggest name in children’s apps today – they have had millions of downloads. This Swedish company is known for its digital toys that inspire creative play and its logo is known the world over. Now children can dress Toca Boca style too with Toca Boca T-shirts and Toca Monster socks. Available from Toca Boca T-shirts are $15 and socks are $12 for 2 pairs 

 

Survivor for iPhone 5/5s, Justice League survivor iPhone If you are looking for a tough case to Protect your iPhone 5 but that has Superhero style check out these new cases from Griffin Technology. The Griffin Survivor case is well known as a tough protective case that is great for standing up to kids and now the case is available in your choice of superhero designs. Whether you are protecting the residents of Gotham City or flying high over Metropolis your iPhone will be safe in the Batman or Superman version of the survivor. Read our review  of the Survivor iPhone case here. Available from Griffin Technology for US$59.99

 

 

Panel 0Laser Pegs 
Laser Pegs were one of the “hot” Christmas toys for 2012 and I can see why!  Here are a few awards that Laser Pegs has recently gotten: Dr. Toy rated Laser Pegs as one of the 10 best tech toys and top 100 toys!, Parenting Magazine gave Laser Pegs their 2011 “Toy of the Year” Award and they were featured on the NBC Today show four times in 19 months!  Laser Pegs® are a unique building toy which light up when they are connected together.  The toys help your children with skills such as problem solving, pattern recognition, creative thinking, math skills and more.  Now you can not only build with the physical Laser Pegs® toys you can also build using their free app which allows you to build models in 3D, create and share manuals for building different objects, play a variety of games and more.  Laser Pegs® is the first construction toy set which allows you to connect one peg to a power source and then illuminate any other peg it is connected with.  You can design and build towers, cars, rocket ships, planes, bugs and anything you can imagine using them.     Children can develop and refine fine motor skills using the pincer grasp, hand strength, learn cause and effect by “plugging in the pieces” as well as use hand-eye coordination to pick up and place each block while building. Available from Target for US$ 6 – 20

 

 

sc b005tov0me 02full Etymotic Research EtyKids Safe Listening Headset   Review & GiveawayETY Safe Kids Headset 
ETYKids ear buds by Etymotic Research, Inc. are headphones that are specially designed to keep the sound level down for your child even when they “think” they have them turned up to the maximum. They keep the volume at safe levels for your children and help to prevent hearing damage. These headphones are designed for children ages four and older or anyone who is sensitive to loud sound. They have ACCU•Fit eartips which ensures they fit well into your child’s ear.  The iMums tested both the ETY Kids 3 (which featured in-line Apple friendly controls) as well as the ETY Kids 5 which was similar but without the inline controls and both sets are reflected in the review.  Be sure to check out the safe listening guide on the ETY site to learn more about safe levels of noise for your child.   Read our review Available from ETY for US $40 – $70

speck iguy Speck iGuy Case and Stand for iPad supplied by GearZap   ReviewSpeck iGuy Case for iPad
iGuy is a freestanding case for your iPad 2/3/4 which brings a whole new level of personality to your device.  I loved that you could stand him on the coffee table with your iPad and watch a video, hold him on your lap to play with an app and even have the tactile touches of the case.  The case also worked well for Skype with family as he would stand on the table during the call instead of you having to hold the iPad steady for the camera.  The case is sturdy and easy to balance on your lap while using the iPad.  My son enjoyed carrying around the case using the arms of iGuy – something that made me a little bit nervous but the iPad seemed well protected.Read our review Available from a variety of retailers including: Gear Zap, Amazon and more.   The Speck iGuy case retails between $25 – 35 USD.

For additional gift ideas check out our other Christmas Shopping lists : The iMums Christmas Gift Guide  2013 for Tech Savvy Men and Women; and The iMums Christmas Gift Guide for Gifts under $30: and these articles from The iMums:  Cool Accessories for Cool kids 2012,  Awesome iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Kids,  Gorgeous and Glamorous iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch Accessories for Women, Great Gifts for Dads -iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch Accessories He’ll LoveGorgeous iPod, iPhone & iPad Accessories for Women, and Cool iPhone & iPad Accessories for Men.

Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).

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