Bottom Line: Contains the full versions (without in-app purchases) of all 15 of MyFirstApp.com's educational games. Exactly what speech-language pathologists and teachers need, including data collection. Perfect for schools' volume purchasing programs! The price may be steep for many users, but the content is great.
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My first thought when downloading Teachers' Pack from MyFirstApp.com was “where have you been all my life?” That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I have downloaded ten of the 15 apps included in Teachers' Pack to use in therapy, and paid for the in-app purchases in each. This app, on the other hand, contains the full versions (without in-app purchases) of all 15 of MyFirstApp.com's educational games. It also lets teachers set the app up for multiple students, and track the progress of each one on each activity.At $2.99 each, the cost does add up, but I have been able to use them apps in many therapeutic contexts — even in cognitive therapy with adults in a skilled nursing facility. This Teachers' Pack provides the easy access to all levels, and keeps the different apps organized together for easy access. The price is far higher than we normally see for apps, but it still represents a savings of $10 over purchasing them all individually.
One of the great things about MyFirstApp’s series is that they can all be downloaded for free to try them. And users unfamiliar with the content can easily do so before committing to the full pack. However, in-app purchases are frustrating for anyone who is fortunate enough to be able to purchase some apps through school funds. This means teachers often have to use personal funds in order to get any in-app purchases that may be beneficial in the classroom or therapy room. Creating an app that can be purchased through Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program is a smart move.
The games themselves are not games meant to entertain, but to teach particular skills. And with this full version, there are certainly a number of skills to target, including matching, grouping, sorting, sequencing, and finding differences.
The skills are targeted with simple games — in the Series games, for example, a series of five pictures are presented out of order, and the user’s job is to move them into the correct sequence, left to right. One builds a smiley face, another shows a flower’s growth. When the sequence is complete, a bright yellow smiley face appears with a cheer.
This same reinforcement appears after every single complete game. There is no variation in positive reinforcement, nor is there any fancy game to play or stickers to collect. This fact may be critical for parents, but it’s less of a concern for me in therapy as I provide my own reinforcements. Teachers and therapists will need to be aware that the app itself may not be motivating to all children and be prepared with something else if needed.
My favorite games are the two Sort It Out games. Each of the 24 different boards features a scene or rows to sort out 24 different pictures (quick math — that means in total there are 576 different items to sort). Cars, planes, and boats are sorted to the road, sky, and water, respectively, while toy vehicles, books, and clocks are all sorted to the appropriate playroom shelf on another board.
These sorting activities are great for working on the concept of categorization, and are amazingly fun for my younger students to play. The scene boards are especially useful for those just beginning to learn categorization.
In all, this app addresses cognitive, language, visual perception and fine motor skills in these 15 apps with a total of 180 different boards. In speech-language therapy, the apps are useful for opposites (including a recording feature so the therapist or student can expressively name each one), sequencing, matching, sorting, categorization, and comparing and contrasting, along with basic language to discuss all of the great pictures.
There is also an easily-accessible mute button to turn off the game sounds, a necessity in a good therapy app for me. As well, there is limited access to the settings area and links to other apps, by triple tapping a specific button at the bottom of the screen.
Ultimately, the only thing keeping this app from being a Top Pick is the price. While it is still a deal over purchasing all of the apps individually, most SLPs and teachers have to purchase apps with their own funds, and $36 is just more than most are able to pay for one app.
In addition, the data collection unfortunately wasn’t working correctly when I evaluated this app — data was kept, and the number of mistakes/completions for the last session was visible on the game screen. However, the View Scores section, where scores on all sessions should be visible, showed no data at all. Hopefully this will be fixed in an update soon.
For teachers and therapists who have access to school funds, Teachers Pack is a great choice for development (and hopefully data collection!) on a number of cognitive and language skills. Though the app is advertised as 1.5 to 5 years old, I find it useful for students in kindergarten and first grade as well, and for students functioning at that cognitive level, regardless of age.
For those with more limited funds, downloading the individual apps and getting the in-app purchases for a few that seem the most useful may be the better plan.
Heather H. is a bit of a rebel, and always has to try to put the car in the sky. SmartAppsForKids.com was paid a priority review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.