Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: ABC Actions

Purpose of App: Help children learn a variety of action words through pictures, easy to understand descriptions, videos and interactive mini games.

Strengths: Offers over 50 action words with terrific real life photos. Goes beyond "jump, run, sit" to include words like "sculpt, grab, and cook."

Weaknesses: None

Suggested Audience: Children learning action words and building vocabulary.

Star Rating Breakdown
Meets Intended Goal: 5
Entertainment: 5
Worth the Price: 5
Ease of Use: 5
Educational Value: 5
Level of Customization: 5

If you would like to download ABC Actions ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:

This app contains no ads or in-app purchases. The videos are links to YouTube. Internet connection is needed to view these videos. The videos play within the app though _____________________________________________________

Back when my son started speech therapy his therapist and I started to create flashcards for him to learn actions. Needless to say, it was difficult to find or even photograph still pictures to depict movement that a then 3 year old would understand. I wish we had ABC Actions back then!

ABC Actions is far more than just flashcards. It can easily be used in a flashcard like capacity where you show a picture with the action labeled at the bottom. There is so much more to it than that. Children view 3 different pictures for each action, are able to watch videos, and can read/listen to a short description of each action specific to that picture. This app could easily be used in a therapy session with an adult leading or in a home setting where a child can play and learn at their own pace.

Each action has the word spelled out at the bottom (great for visual learners) and the action word is also spoken aloud by the narrator (for the auditory learner). Clicking on the picture of the ABC Action kid icon on the right of the picture will bring up a simple-to-understand description of how that action is being performed. The description is also read aloud and displayed on screen.

Children can explore from A for "Aim" all the way through Y for "Yawn" by swiping across each picture to all the actions in alphabetical order.  They can also jump around the alphabet on the home screen, picking which action to view. Although not every letter in the ABC's is present, that is a good thing in my book.  In practicality, to take an x-ray could be listed under "X." In my opinion, that is putting too much emphasis on the "ABC" portion of the app and not the "Actions" part. I prefer how they chose to only include useful actions compared to stretching the purpose of the app to fill in a few less-common letters.

The diversity in which actions were chosen is fantastic. It includes common ones you would expect such as kick, walk, open and run. But it goes an extra step to include creative actions, such as paint and cook, movements such as bend and swim, as well as facial actions like wink, yawn and smile.

The use of three different pictures per action is helpful. There are some words which could have multiple actions associated. For instance, "Slide" shows one picture of a girl going down a playground slide, while the next shows a baseball player sliding into home plate.

The description available for each picture is specific for the picture currently displayed. For "Build" there are three different descriptions for each of the three pictures. It not only tells that the kids are building, but specifies what objects they are building with -- toy blocks, sand, or big blocks. This is helpful for children working on conversational speech and story telling skills. Instead of just offering a clinical definition of what is going on, it models how a child could describe the situation using simple details.

The background music is simple and non-intrusive. However, if the child does not like it or is easily distracted by it, there is a setting to control the music volume. The settings, locked under parental controls, allow the music volume to be adjusted and even turned off, if unwanted. The child can listen to the narrator and watch the videos at normal volume with or without background music. Though my kids love the music, I see the usefulness of silencing the music if using this app in a therapy session.

The videos are links to YouTube, so an internet connection is needed (Wi-Fi recommended) to view the videos. The rest of the app is still functional without the internet. If there is not a connection, the icon where the video is normally located turns into a "no internet" type icon. This way children are not frustrated by being shown that there is a video, but then brought to an error screen when it is unable to play.

Though it is a YouTube video, the video is played within the app. The app does not redirect the child to an external web browser. Also, once the video is finished, it loops back to the beginning of the video and does not show the typical list of YouTube related videos. The app development team at Peapod Labs does prescreen the videos and updates them if they are no longer available. If you have any concerns about the videos, they can be disabled all together in the settings section of the app.

Although it may seem odd that the videos are links needing internet to access, I appreciate this approach. Video files take up huge amounts of memory. ABC Actions is a mere 66 MB in size. To include all 100+ videos would increase that by leaps and bounds.

ABC Actions is a fantastic app. If this is the first you are hearing of the ABC app series by Peapod labs, I recommend taking a look at what else they have to offer. At last check there were seven more apps, including ABC Wildlife, ABC Music, and ABC Food. All the ones I have tried provide the same stellar images and informative videos we have come to expect from Peapod Labs.

From iTunes:

Time to learn those fun action words! We challenged ourselves to use our award-winning ABC Series to teach children about verbs and action words through sight, sound & touch. 

Our app development framework: entice, explore, play, learn, and extend tries to make learning fun and effective. We use images, videos, interactions, and sounds to bring words to life and give them a clear meaning for the kids. 

-150+ photos
-100+ videos
- 50+ Interactive games 
- 50+ Action Words 
- Multi-user Support 
-Carefully Curated Content

Rachel H's son clapped and jumped when he saw I downloaded this app for him -- then he stole her iPad and played ABC Actions for the next hour.

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