Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review for Key Word Kids, a top app for learning language concepts and following directions

Purpose of App: To help develop language in fun and engaging play. It targets teaching key informative words a person must know to convey a message. It works on skills such as paying attention, listening, comprehension, retaining information and communication.

Strengths: Uses approach based on Derbyshire Language Scheme. Begins by checking the child's level and then increases complexity as the child improves. Includes content-specific mini games as both a reward and to further reinforce learning. Includes clear instructions for parent or therapist as well as FAQ section.

Weaknesses: Though it contains lots of content, it does seem to be priced a little high. Though many options and varying levels of difficulty, there could be more customization options. No ability to set up user profiles for multiple kids or progress tracking.

Suggested Audience: Children working on expressive language and building early communication skills. Designed for children 2 to 8 years old with Language Disorder or Delay, Apraxia of Speech, Autism Spectrum Disorder and learners of English as a second language. Uses British English terminology and accent as well as approach common to UK and Australia.

Bottom Line: Key Word Kids by Language And Learning Steps Pty.Ltd covers a multitude of skills. From developing language and comprehension to retaining and using information, this app delivers. There is enough content as well as ease of use to be beneficial in both a home or therapy environment.

Meets Intended Goal
Worth the Price
Ease of Use
Educational Value
Level of Customization

If you would like to download Key Word Kids ($23.99, iPad Only), please show your support by using our link:
Link to developer website and email behind the best parental lock I've seen.

Key Word Kids works to develop the various skills necessary to help with communication, going far beyond flashcards and flip books. Children practice identifying objects, actions and placement through following auditory directions. With various levels of difficulty, it benefits both early identification of objects up to following advanced multistep directions.

For users (like me) who are unfamiliar with the Derbyshire Language Scheme or are unsure of where to begin, there is a quick level check available to assess the child's current level. After taking the quiz-like assessment, the app will suggest a starting level. Users can follow the app's suggestion or go back to the main menu and select the lesson they wish.

Within each lesson, children are given clear, specific instructions on what to do within the scene, such as "brush the dog's tail, or "make Jane hop to the blue chair." Feedback is immediate and hints are offered in the case of incorrect responses. There is a little lag time between completing one lesson and receiving the directions for the next. Though it is nice that the child does not feel rushed, the pause between scenes seems a little longer than necessary.

It is easy to pause, skip and modify settings from within the lessons. Clicking on the pause button in the top left corner allows the lesson to be paused and multiple options to be displays. The lesson can be restarted, skipped, the settings for text and voice can be modified, or the user can return to the home screen. The current progress is also displayed allowing the user to see how many correct and incorrect responses have been given.

Anytime I get an app with a higher price point, I want to make sure I know how to use it and am getting everything I can out of it. Key Word Kids is simple to get started and use, and there is plenty of clear instruction and FAQ within the app to help me know how to fully utilize it. I do recommend anyone new to the approach used in this app read all the instructions and become familiar with the basic concepts prior to use.

There are three main sections to the app, Level Check, Comprehension and Expression. There is also an Extras sections allowing the user to select specific sentences, set the theme or play the mini games.

The Expression section allows kids to review specific items and actions at their own speed. Children can have fun creating scenes in the five different themes available through out the app. As items are added to the scene, the name is provided and the child is able to record and replay their pronunciation.

Though the Expression section is very useful, the heart of the app lays in the Comprehension section. Users are able to select different levels of difficulty from two through five word directions. The number refers to the number of key words included in the command, not the total number of words in the command. Each page provides clear directions as well as little hints in the upper right hand corner for the child to know if it requires a drag and drop or multiple click interaction. Lessons are broken up with the opportunity to play the choice of five mini games. The frequency of mini games can be set within from the settings on the main menu.

Within the Comprehension section, the concepts are presented in a random mix. To to work on specific sentences or stay within a theme, go to the Extras section on the main menu. In the Extras section there is the ability to select specific sets of sentences or themes. Within these sections, users choose the level and sentences to practice.

Also, while there is feedback and the ability to email results, there are no real statistics available. The email results consist of what level the child worked on as well as the number of correct and incorrect responses. More detailed results would be useful, such as which lessons were incorrect. This way, the parent or therapist could see that the child alway misses questions involving identifying pronouns or other details.

Though Key Words Kids uses British English vocabulary and accent, this could be a very useful app world wide. The ability to practice basic identification in the Expression section as well as work on more complex multi-step directions in the Comprehension section makes this app beneficial for a wide range of needs. Though a little costly at over $20, it is an app that will continue to be of use as the child advances.

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Rachel H's son recently learned about Australia in school and wants to plan a visit. He does not realize how long a plane ride that is from Texas.

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