Friday, July 4, 2014

Featured App: Dexteria Jr. reinforces skills important for prewriting as well as fine motor

I had a nerdy OT moment when I opened the "Trace and Erase" option in Dexteria, Jr. This app was developed for preschoolers and this section of the app includes prewriting shapes and lines. Before a child learns to write they must learn prewriting shapes and lines, including vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines for forming nearly all the letters in the alphabet. They must also learn circles, square and triangles for letters such as A, L and O. As an OT, I focus on the mastery of theses lines and shapes BEFORE working on letters. This app reinforces the importance of these skills, without even allowing the user the option to practice letters.

If you would like to download Dexteria, Jr.  (3.99, iPad/iPhone), please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the following link:
External links are under the "For Grown-Ups" option, behind a passcode (simple math question), and includes the other Binary Lab apps, featured blogs and a link to their Facebook page.

Dexteria, Jr. engages preschoolers practicing their fine motor skills, with fun and interactive games that work on basic skills needed for development. The opening screen is easy to use, showing the user the three options for the games, with colorful and distinct areas to tap. In addition, each game has verbal instructions for the rules of the game and to navigate the menu after each level. This option and the music can be turned off on the intro screen, if desired.

"Squish the Squash" is the first game to choose, with the object of the game being squishing the squash by tapping on it. This game has 15 levels, starting with a single squash presented at one time, and ending with several squashes moving around and requiring two taps to move on. With each squished squash, there is auditory reinforcement, allowing the user to know that they have successfully tapped the correct spot. Initially, one tap will squish the squash, but starting at level 6, two taps are required. The squashes are cute and engaging for the user, and when squished, looks like a squashed bug. Following each level a screen is presented with how many squashes were squished and the time it took to squish them all. The user can then chose to return the the menu, restart the level, or move onto the next level.

The second game available, "Trace and Erase," made me super OT-nerdy excited when I started playing. This game has 29 options to practice prewriting skills. It starts with simple vertical and horizontal lines and finishes with a complex horizontal diamond. The user is instructed to, "drag the arrow to the star." There is an auditory signal when the user taps on the arrow, along with a signal when the line deviates and when the star is reached. These auditory cues allow the user to understand when they are having difficulties. Following the completion of the lines, the user is then instructed to erase the lines. When erasing, the screen reveals that it is a camera and a picture is taken of the user following completion of these tasks. The response screen shows the accuracy in tracing and the time it took to complete the task. Again the user can chose to return the the menu, restart the level, or move onto the next level.

The last game is "Pinch the Pepper," which includes 10 levels. Users are instructed, "with your thumb and index finger, pinch the pepper." As seen with "Squish the Squash," the initial level starts with peppers that are not moving and only a few on the screen, and the last presented many moving peppers to pinch. The higher levels present a yellow pepper, in addition to the regular red, which pops and reveals several other red peppers increasing the difficulty. An auditory signal sounds when the pepper is popped, along with the auditory instructions for navigating through the menu. At the end of the level the number of peppers popped and time taken are presented.

This app also allows tracking of progress from the initial screen. When the "Report" button is clicked an activity log appears, showing the information from each game in addition to the dates played. There are options to email the results or clear the results at the bottom of this screen. The email screen has a passcode screen, preventing young children from emailing the results randomly.

Lastly, under the "Options" menu, there are several options including sending feedback and share the app with friends, again protected by a passcode for adults to use.

Not only does Dexteria, Jr. focus on prewriting skills, but also other skills needed for the appropriate development of fine motor skills in preschool aged children or those who need extra practice before moving on to higher level fine motor skills.

Shelly may move to San Diego seven months before her husband. She's loving the weather, fun and spending time with the family.

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