by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development. $15.99 for iPad or iPhone version at time of review; Lite versions, 99 cents each. )
Fun with verbs & Sentences by Hamaguchi Apps is a sentence building/ syntax/ verb tense app developed for young learners with special needs. It is also great for working on expanding basic vocabulary and concepts like he/she. It's getting a lot of use with my young students with developmental delays- it is a natural transition for graduates of the developer's app, First Phrases, another big hit with my young students. If you are familiar with other apps by this developer, you will know they are engaging and well suited as a therapy tool- the settings are very flexible and include data tracking.
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How to play
As you will soon find out, you are not limited to one sentence structure - the settings allow you to practice several different sentence structures: Verb only, Subject +Verb, Subject + Verb + Object, and even Subject +Verb+ Prepositional phrase. You can also choose random play where the latter three sentence structures are presented randomly. You can use either present continuous (is + ing) or select from both regular and irregular past tense verbs. To play, the child is prompted to pick each element of his/ her sentence from a field of three. First three choices for the subject are presented, while the narrator asks "Who do you want?"
These choices are always the same- The girl, the boy, the bear, or you can change the settings to use he/she instead of the boy/ the girl/ the bear. The child will continue to be presented with three choices for the verb/action, for the object or prepositional phrase. The narrator will confirm the child's choice by repeating each part back. After the child has picked out each element of the sentence structure, a narrator will speak the sentence (this narration can be shut off in Settings) and an animation will be shown illustrating it. (Much appreciated feature: Touch the screen to pause the animation if needed!)
After the animation the child will have a chance to tap the color coded buttons to hear each part of the sentence. The child can still view the animation above the sentence structure buttons. A recording button allows the child to record himself. There is a listen button where the child can play back what he/she said, and a "Check" button to touch with the correct language model spoken. Then a "prize" will be awarded (control how often this plays in Settings). The child will pick from 10 items (dinosaur, car, train, butterfly etc.), and that item will be hidden in a bubble for the child to discover.
Practice sentence structures at the child's pace
I have already mentioned many of the flexible settings while describing how to play above, and there are quite a few more. You can choose to display text along with the narrations, and even turn the recording off if desired (all my kids adore this feature though!). You can choose to NOT select parts of a sentence, and instead only practice recording sentences via the "Watch & Say" option in Settings. You can control whether the next screen is automatically shown, or whether the screen change is manual. You can choose to shut off the progress tracker, and hide scores.You can hide visual support (color coded circles with icons) under the Cueing button in Settings.
You can also easily add new student profiles to the app, set up new groups to add those students to, or access their data via the Users tab on the main screen.
My favorite feature however is the Verbs button, where you can select EXACTLY which verbs you want the child to practice, and control which verb tenses are used. You can also select 'random' verb play under this feature.
There is a scoring system on the left hand side of the screen. The therapist will need to tap the ovals representing each sentence element to record a correct response. After a session ends the scores can be saved and a thorough report for the session can be viewed then or at a later time. The report will display the settings used along with scores for each type of sentences structure and items missed etc. You can also create a PDF of the report, send it via email or even print if you have a wifi enabled printer.
Parental Lock Feature
I don't need this feature for this particular app since I work side by side with a child when using it, but it always makes me happy to see developers think about limiting social media and App Store access for their young users. This particular lock requires a two digit addition problem to unlock external links to the App Store, where additional apps from the developer can be viewed.
A request from one of the SLPs I work with: Ability to change to third person singular for sentence structure , i.e. "The girl knocks on the door." (Another app from this developer- First phrases-comes close to this. It uses an imperative Verb+Object or Verb+ the + Object structure, "Eat the banana" "Pop the bubble" "Open the door" etc.)
A setting where all 3 items must be presented before a child can select. I have a student who impulsively taps the first or second choice before all the choices have been presented.
I would love for the prize to make a sound and do a short animation when found hidden in the bubbles. They kind of just unceremoniously appear after the bubble pops and then grow bigger in the center of the screen. It would be so fun if the train let out a whistle or a puff of steam and so on.
Ability to set the color for each sentence element- to better fit in with existing sentence structure color coding systems we are currently using.
For scoring-Ability to have a "partial" correct response noted somehow, for when my students say "eat" instead of "eating" etc. perhaps a note feature accessible during game play?
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