Thursday, February 23, 2012

Signing Numbers and Colors with ASL Videos

Signing Numbers and Colors with ASL videos was created by Spirit-led Designs and is available through the library app, Interactive Touch Books. It aims to teach the numbers 1-20, and colors in general and also in American sign language. Signing can be a great tool for parents to communicate with their young children who are just learning to talk, especially if their child might be a "late bloomer" verbally. Price: $1.99

The Interactive Touch Books app that is needed is free and device requirements are: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Developmental Appropriateness: I think the intentions of the app are great, but I don't think it quite accomplishes its goals. From the title at least, it seems like the star of the app should be the ASL videos. The videos are very short and goes through each sign once. I know, you can simply hit play again, but in general, a lot of what goes into teaching young kids is repetition, especially with something new. So I'd expect to see something like - the sign demonstrated in real time, then maybe in slow motion with audio step by step direction on the movements that go into making the signs, and then repeated again in regular speed. Some of the movements are more subtle than others and some signs more complicated than others. It would be difficult for a young child to pick up how to make the signs by just watching a quick demonstration. As for learning the numbers, each page of the book presents a number with a corresponding number of animals or insects or objects, etc. You can tap on each of them and some animation will happen. I'm really surprised that the objects don't count out numbers as you tap them! This would go a long way to make sure that the child sees the correspondence of the number of objects on the page to the number presented on the page and that he or she is not just tapping away on everything they see. 

Lastly, a child who needs to learn the numbers 1-20 and basic colors is super young - probably around 3. A child who would be able to learn the signs in the videos correctly without further direct instruction would be much older. Rating: 2.5/5 (based on topic, aim for around 4 years)

Balance: As mentioned, rather than or in addition to the hotspots on each page when counting the objects, I'd add a verbal and visual counting cue. Also, the later pages start to double up the numbers (# 13 and #14 are on the same page), so it starts looking a little cluttered and the number of objects increase. Rating: 3/5

Sustainability:  I usually don't comment on the production quality, but I did notice a gap between the nice pictures and hotspots and the lower quality in voice over and ASL videos. I think this will make kids concentrate more on the hotspots (which they love already) rather than wanting to see the video. There's nothing really that ties the rest of the book in with the videos, so what would lead kids to play the videos that don't look as cool as the rest of the page? So although kids might want to continue tapping on the hotspots, I don't know if they will watch the videos enough to learn the signs - which I feel is the goal of the app. Rating: 2/5

Parental Involvement: The ASL videos could be a conversation starter and would definitely need some attention and reinforcement from parents. Rating: 3.5/5

Total: 11 out of 20 = 2 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes.

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