Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Feed Maxi - Interactive Learning with an Adorable New Friend!


Purpose of App: To increase basic vocabulary and sign language skills by listening to Maxi's requests and fulfilling them by feeding her.

Strengths: Maxi is an incredibly engaging character. You can customize the app to track up to five different players' progress, as well as number of choices given. Maxi demonstrates some basic sign language and enthusiastically responds to correct answers.

Weaknesses: Maxi's sign language can be a little difficult to interpret with her enthusiasm (but I like her exuberance!). When the wrong food is clicked, the name of that food is not given.

Suggested Audience: This app is designed for those with limited or very basic expressive/receptive language skills. It can also be used for any student needing to increase vocabulary skills or who needs motivation to achieve basic signing for requests. Facilitators can decide if students should be challenged with one, two or three choices.   

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

If you would like to download Feed Maxi ($2.99, iPad IOS 6.0 or higher), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking this button:

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External links to terms of use, data tracking and customization are behind a parent pass code.
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When Feed Maxi is opened, a user will instantly be delighted and engaged. Maxi gives simple requests for food, and she signs "please" after telling you what to put in her mouth. Kids and adults of all ages will learn new foods as Maxi asks for brussels sprouts or broccoli and some 80 different foods. I really like that the pictures of food look like the real item and not like a cartooned version. The facilitator can also customize the food categories so snacks are left out or just vegetables are focused upon. The app is designed to teach communication skills, such as requesting through language and sign. It also demonstrates cause and effect concepts through Maxi getting food when she asks, and her exuberant reactions are also a great effect of choosing the correct food.

I watched my girls' faces as they giggled at Maxi's reaction to their picking the right food. What if a child chooses the wrong food? No problem, Maxi will tell you "no," and the right answer will light-up. For vocabulary development, it would be beneficial for Maxi to state what the child clicked, so the child can learn that food and understand why it is not the correct one. Get the right answer and Maxi will dance, jump and twirl. Activate the scenic characters like parrots and butterflies to see Maxi dance around. Maxi does sign and say "I want," "more," "all done" and "please". I really do wish Maxi would also sign and say "thank you" though, because I feel it's as important to learn gratitude as it is to learn requesting.

The tracking features in this app are nice. With the ability to customize, challenge and track up to five different individuals, Feed Maxi allows for quite a bit of data collection. How many times did Johnny pick the right food? The wrong food? What is the average time it takes to answer? The tracking field is located behind the parental lock and shows data for the current day, as well as for a date range.

For children who are just learning to point or listen to requests, consider customizing Feed Maxi to show only one choice instead of three. Once Maxi is fed to completion, a new screen will appear so that a game of popping food filled balloons can be played. This game seemed to be a reward to me, but also stimulated the child to watch for multiple items and work their hand-eye coordination skills.  I feel like Feed Maxi employs so many different skills in a relatively easy to use format. This simple activity of listening to Maxi's requests and fulfilling them by making the correct choice, are actually teaching listening skills, vocabulary, basic sign language, cause and effect, and hand-eye coordination among others.

That being said children find Maxi to be cute and fun, but they may not all be entertained by her for long periods of time. There is only one game to play as a reward for a job well done. This game is an interactive one of popping balloons with food in them. This activity reinforces the vocabulary words, which is a great addition to the app. I think this app would be even better if there were different games used as rewards when the player completed a vocabulary level.

Feed Maxi is visually pleasing, and her voice and the sounds are pleasant. Players will be excited to high five her and if they are anything like my daughters, they will love when Maxi proclaims: "Ouchewawa - you're so strong!". She really is an adorable little monkey with a voracious appetite for a variety of foods from fruits and vegetables to snacks and treats.

I could not locate a home screen or an escape once I entered a feeding session, but I believe this is a good thing for little fingers constantly clicking buttons.

Overall, I like Feed Maxi a lot. It is a great app for vocabulary development in young children with good customization and data collection. The use of sign language is a good edition and a fun way to pick up basic signs, but some of the signs are difficult to learn how to do from Maxi. This would be a great app for any child looking to learn the words for different types of food.

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Amanda was glad she could feed Maxi some brussels sprouts because no one else in the house will eat them!

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