Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hot Dots Jr.

Hot Dots Jr. was created by Educational Insights and aims to teach kids colors, letters, shapes, numbers, and patterns. It includes Ace the Talking, Teaching Dog. I like the idea of have a virtual "teacher" so let's see if Ace delivers. Price: $0.99

Device Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Developmental Requirements: In general, the activities assess appropriate skills for preschoolers and kindergartners. The app basically just takes kids through rounds of multiple-choice questions like, "Match the uppercase and lowercase letters" or "Which completes the sequence?" (By the way, using the words completes the sequence is too hard! Many little kids do not know the word sequence or even pattern. Many assessments use the phrase, "What comes next?" instead.) The difficulty in each round ranges, especially with letters, but there's no setting to select specific tasks. Some will be too easy and some will be too hard, but it goes fast enough where it's maybe ok. But it would be nice if parents and kids could select specific tasks to work on, or at least instead of a total score, it actually broke down scores by task. The activities remind me of actual assessments, but with less information.

Where I've set myself up for disappointment is with this whole Ace the Talking, Teaching Dog. To me, that means that Ace provides good instruction and feedback to help kids understand their answers - correct or incorrect. However, Ace does not offer anymore feedback than most apps, giving approval when correct, and maybe a bark when wrong. A "bow wow" tells me nothing. Rating: 3/5 (aim for around 4 years).

Balance: The tasks are very straightforward. The voiceover is clear and repeats the question. Sometimes, especially in the case of "which completes the sequence," kids who are unfamiliar with the tasks may need the prompt repeated, but also rephrased. Rating: 4/5

Sustainability: There doesn't seem to be a goal here, you get a score at the end of each round, but nothing else to really keep kids going, unless they just like answering questions. Rating: 3/5

Parental Involvement: Given the structure of the tasks, this is where I think it needs the most improvement. While its good to just have kids practice, there also needs to be instruction involved for them to improve and there is none within the tasks themselves. So what it needs is to provide parents with the knowledge of what and how to help their kids. Rating: 3/5

Total: 13 out of 20 - 3 stars

Disclosure - I received this app for free for review purposes

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