Friday, March 27, 2015

Avokiddo Apps=A+ Apps

One of things I love most is finding a good app. Even better is when the design studio who created that app has several wonderful apps to choose from.  Two of my favorites, Toca Boca and Pepi Play, come up with new apps all the time that always blow my mind and I have blogged about several of their games.  Recently, I discovered a new studio and I can't get enough of their apps.  More importantly, the kids I work with are loving all the new apps on my iPad!

Avikiddo is an award-winning creative studio that specializes in creating quality educational apps for children.  They believe that when somebody enjoys something, they will connect with it in a way that learning will take place more naturally.  And I LOVE their philosophy (which I am sharing directly from their website):  Our philosophy is that education should be more than teaching math and literacy.  It should provide a challenging and stimulating environment where children obtain knowledge through active exploration and interaction.  An environment where they can use their imagination to reveal their true inner self; a world infused with purity and creativity.  We design our games with love and affection, truly believing in these principles.

I was originally drawn to the Avokiddo apps because of the awesome graphics.  There was something unique and creative about it that I hand't really seen before and thought I would check it out.  My fiIt's impossible to choose just one favorite of the Avokiddo apps so I have decided to write a little something about each.

Beck and Bo-a delightful and incredibly interactive app that takes two kids, Beck and Bo, on an adventure through 12 different scenes.  I would highly recommend this app for speech therapists and special educators who are working on building vocabulary.  The scenes vary from a day at the beach to building a snowman.  Each scene starts of pretty empty and it is up to the child to grab different objects falling from the sky and place them where they want in the scene.  For example, the winter scene starts off with snowy hill and you have to grab different parts of a snowman and put it together, including a hat and scarf.  From an occupational therapy perspective, this app is great for working on visual motor and visual perceptual skills.  It is also great for working on improving executive functioning skills such as attention, focus and organizational skills.  If you are working on improving grasping skills, you can always use a stylus to encourage a proper grasp on writing instruments.  Want to work on increasing upper body strength?  Have them play this app while lying prone either on a bolster or on the net swing.  They will be having so much fun that they won't realize how much they are "working" on getting stronger!

Avokiddo Emotions-this was my first Avokiddo app.  I was running a social schools group for preschoolers and we were focusing on emotions with the kids.  The iPad always motivates my kiddos and I did a search and found this.  It was a huge hit with the kids.  One of my favorite things about this app is how it allowed the kids to freely interact with different characters and then generate conversation about how they reacted.  It allowed them to really look at the animal's faces and recognize what different emotions looked like.  For example, the characters ears flatten and droop down when they are sad or they would jump up when they were startled by a loud noise.  For generalization purposes, we then would act out different emotions with the kids after we played the app.   This is a great app for working on speech and language skills and making kids more aware of social cues.

Thinkrolls-I just recently discovered this app and am loving both the original and the newest version which was just released on Wednesday!  Great for older preschoolers and school age kids.  It's a highly addictive game that has kids roll a variety of adorable characters through mazes.  While going through the maze, the encounter different challenges that requires them to think about how to use them.  They also unlock new characters which I have found makes for a really excited kid!  For example, as they are rolling through one of the earlier mazes, they run into a blocked path by a cracker that they must eat to keep going through the maze.  As you go through the levels, you may be blocked by a balloon that must be popped by the spikes on the wall or drop ice cubes on a fire so they can pass it.  One thing I really like about this game is that it is great for kids as young as 4 and as old as 9.  It's great for working on visual motor/perceptual skills like tracking and scanning.  Most importantly, I love how it works on problem solving and critical thinking.  It makes kids have to slow down and think about what they are going to do in order to pass the obstacles.  As they move through the mazes, they start to combine the different obstacles so the kids really have to think about what each thing does and make sure they do it in the right order in order to pass the obstacle.  This is a great app to work on improving social skills; you can have kids work together to talk about how to  overcome the challenges and take turns moving through each level.
Thinkrolls 2, the new version of Thinkroll does not disappoint.  It's the same concept of rolling through a series of mazes, but there are new challenges and characters introduced. Like the original Thinkrolls, kids are required to roll their characters through mazes, using problem solving and critical thinking to figure out how to overcome challenges.   Both games offer two levels of play, easy and hard, that makes this great for children of all ages.  Even adults will have fun playing this game and will find themselves stumped at times as they the game becomes increasingly more challenging.

Avokiddo ABC Ride-one of my absolute favorite alphabet apps out there!  Like all the other apps already discussed, it is incredibly interactive and engaging making learning super fun for the kids playing it.  The game starts off by choosing your character, Beck or Bo, and putting them on a bike and have them go on an alphabet adventure (you can go in order or have it be random).  Each letter has a mini-game to get the kids engaged and helps them associate a letter with a word.  For example, water the flowers to find the F or put the robot back together for the letter R.  My favorite is C where you have to cram the candy the hippo is dreaming about into his mouth.  Not only are the kids learning about the letter, they are working on following directions, matching pictures and maintaining their attention/focus.  Once the child has completed each mini-game, a whole word will show up on top, the letters will drop and the child has to match/drag the letters back into place.  This app is great for working on more than just learning letters.  It works on improving visual motor/perceptual skills, eye-hand coordination, following verbal directions and improving focus and attentional skills.  For my older kids who are working on handwriting, I have them write the words before they move onto the next letter for an added step.  

Do you have any other design studios you really love?  Any games that you want to recommend to me or my readers?  I am always on the lookout for good apps, especially ones that will work on a ton of skills, motivate the kids I work with to learn and ones that can encourage social skills at the same time.  I would love to hear from you and am always a click away!  In the meantime, I hope you and your littles enjoy these apps!

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