Bottom Line: Listening skills can be very difficult for some kids and Patti Hamaguchi, Speech-Pathologist, has come to save the day with Listening Power Preschool HD. This app is packed with stories, questions and options to adjust everything in between. In addition, this app enables users to create individual profiles or groups and each profile can be set to get harder or easier depending on how well they are doing.
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The app homescreen leads to all areas of the app including a demonstration video, users, settings, information, more apps by this developer and a button to start playing. The demonstration video is parent-protected and is just over seven minutes long that explains everything parents, teachers or therapists need to know about adding users, creating groups and customizing use of the app. Users can hit the home button or click on the settings button from this page.
The users section is cleanly designed for ease of use. This page is where users are created and selected to play as individuals or groups. There are tips on how to add or select profiles posted next to items and there is also an option to view data accumulated for each group and individual. The buttons to return home and settings are included in this screen as well as a help button that answers common questions about renaming, adding and settings. Users can also proceed to play from this screen.
In settings, there is a home button and at the top right of the screen users will see the name of the user or group these settings are for. There are seven settings buttons on this page. Activities includes the five activities in the app: listening for descriptions, listening for directions, listening for grammar and meaning, listening for stories with pictures and listening for stories without pictures. Each activity's level can be set for easy, intermediate or advanced and answer choices can be set for two, three or four with four being the hardest. This button also gives users the choice between automatic or manual showing of the activities. The answer choices button in settings gives users the option to automatically show choices or have them manually presented where a button must be pressed to reveal choices. Levels button is used to choose between auto advance/drop (difficulty will get easier or harder depending on play) or manually. The bubble game button lets users turn the game on or off as choose how often it comes up as a reward. The tracking button lets users turn tracking on or off and choose where or not to display scores which is a very nice feature to keep children from getting discouraged. Text can be turned off or on. While this is an auditory-centered app, this custom setting can be very helpful depending on the environment the app is to be used or even as a reading comprehension app. Narration and sounds can be adjusted on another button and finally, there is a play button.
Back to the homescreen to another super-cool section, information. This area shows what users might expect such as credits and the purpose of the app, but it also has the fabulous features of being able to email or print all of the stories. It is 69 pages worth of reinforcement that can be sent to other adults working with the child or children and listening skills. The last button on the home page links to all the other Hamaguchi apps and there are a lot to choose from.
After users have been created and settings made, play can begin. The app is best used with a parent or educator for kids with short attention spans, but adjusting the rewards and levels can make the app easy to play without strict oversight. The activities are cleanly described in their titles. For example, the listening for descriptions section narrates questions such as "Show me the longest one." and children are shown the appropriate amount of choices in pictures. Wrong choices are recorded, but there is no auditory response for incorrect taps. When correct answers are chosen, a quick animation and/or narration is played.
The app had no technical issues while I tinkered and played. I sat my son down to practice those listening skills and loved how the automatic features and custom settings could be adjusted appropriately. The app is very clearly designed and it was easy to move from one area to another. The pictures were also right on-point and unambiguous as choices. Overall, this app delivers all it promises with tons of settings, ease of use and attractive, intuitive layout.