Friday, February 22, 2013

Kerpoof Studio

With a snazzy name like Kerpoof I had to take a serious look at this Web 2.0 tool. What I found is one of the coolest creation tools for elementary and middle school aged students that I have ever seen. Kerpoof is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Corporation but you wouldn't realize that unless you dig though the information sections of the website. 

The Kerpoof Studio website was designed for elementary and middle school aged students but has a vast amount of potential for anyone that feels that creative urge. Six core areas are present on the site. Students are able to create projects/masterpieces in each of the areas.  Those six areas are; 1) Spell a Picture 2) Make a Movie 3) Make a Card 4) Make a Drawing 5) Make a Picture 6) Tell a Story.

Spell a Picture was designed for children in kindergarten through third grade. Users are expected to choose one of several backgrounds that their picture will be centered around. Once their background is in place the user can begin to spell words. When they have the word spelled correctly, they will be able to place the image onto the background wherever they want.  

Make a Movie is a favorite of my older students. The user is able to create their own animated movie. Including scenes, text and music. Characters and objects are easily added by clicking on their choice and dragging them into the scenes at the appropriate location. Users can also make the characters and objects move or dance.

The Make a Card section allows user to make greeting cards by clicking and dragging images and text on to the screen. Once the user has completed the greeting card, they are able to either print their project or save it as a jpeg and email or insert it into another document.

Make a Drawing is a kid friendly version of Paint. Students are able to draw or paint pictures. They have access to a variety of drawing and painting tools. Some of the features are free while Kerpoof Koins can be used to purchase others. When the drawing are complete they can be added to stories, movies, inserted into any other documents or just saved and printed.

Make a Picture is very similar to Spell a Picture. Users need to choose a background image from several different styles. Then they are able to choose from a wide variety of images that they can add to their picture by dragging and dropping them in the desired location. Users are also able to resize the images to appropriate perspective in their picture. 

Tell a Story provides the users with the opportunity to create their own books. Users can add background images, characters, other scenery and speech bubbles in addition to enter the text of the story. Additional pages are also easily added as necessary to complete the story.




A feature unique to Kerpoof is the concept of Kerpoof Koins. Users are able to accumulate koins by creating art, sharing art, uncovering hidden items or for trying new things. The koins can be used to purchase items in the Kerpoof Store. Such as brushes and textures to use while painting characters, songs and events in movie maker or just bling for your avatar. 

All of Kerpoof's activities are free but they do offer a reasonably priced subscription for their premium services. Currently a monthly subscription of $4.39 allows users access to additional content in Movie Maker and their communication services. This minimal subscription fee helps to keep the Kerpoof Studio website free of advertising.

When the Walt Disney Corporation created Kerpoof Studio they didn't forgot about the educational sector. They have built features into Kerpoof that allow teachers to create accounts and enter each of their students with a unique user name and password. As well as including ideas for lesson plans. 

Kerpoof Studio was a HUGE hit in the computer lab this week and I highly recommend that parents and teachers of elementary and middle school aged children take a serious look at this valuable tool.

Friday, February 15, 2013

iPieces

Playing games is a huge piece of everyone's childhood. Most kids LOVE them! I have taken my love for board games and moved that into my classroom. The students love them and are more engaged so we accomplish a lot when the board games come out. Just about any traditional board game can easily be adapted to use in therapy.
Having a background in educational technology, I was easily transported into the world of iPad and apps when I was assigned my first iPad by my school district. The iPad and all its wonder was quickly put to work with my students it was easy to see what a great addition this tool was going to be for me professionally. 



Board game apps are plentiful in the App Store. Some I've liked and use in therapy sessions and others I've considered a waste of money. Recently I found a series of four apps and their accessories that combine the concepts of playing traditional board games with the hands on interactivity of the iPad.

These little gems are called iPieces and Pressman Toys is the creator. They have long standing roots in the toy world and are located on the East Coast. iPieces entered the market in July of 2012. The four games in this series are; 1) Snakes and Ladders 2) Game of Goose 3) Air Hockey 4) Fishing. Each of these apps are free downloads in the App Store but the users must purchase the small game boxes that contain the game pieces. The individual game boxes are relatively inexpensive (currently they are all on Amazon for $10.00 or less) and can be purchased from Pressman Toys or Amazon.

I currently have two of the games in the iPieces series and will be adding the other two soon. They are working great in therapy sessions. The kids love, love, love them and stay highly engaged in the learning activity they need to complete to get their turns. The number of trials I get per students when the iPieces games are out is extremely high. They are so worth the price you pay for them and because of their small size are easily transportable between locations. If your looking for something new to purchase you might want to give iPieces a look. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development

I haven't forgotten that I started to give everyone a peek into what I have on my work iPad it just has been crazy busy and I haven't had time to sit down and write. How I organize my iPad is always evolving. Right now I have the majority of my language apps organized by developer because I can find them faster. I do have some odds and ends in folders labeled speech and language. This post is going to feature a developers that I think make great speech apps. If you have't checked out series of apps made by Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language and Auditory Development, I recommend you take a look.

The Hamaguchi Apps I use regularly are: 

Fun with Directions - The students participate in a variety of interactive activities that work on following directions that include color words, spatial concepts, and auditory processing skills. You are also able to work on auditory memory skills by turning on the Superstar Directions feature. In this feature, the user has to repeat what they were told to do and record it.


More Fun with Directions - Very similar to Fun with Directions but features different concepts.

First Phrases - This is one of my all time favorite apps. It works on getting the user to move from speaking in one or two words utterances to phrases (verb + the + noun). It provides multiple learning opportunities by allowing them to  both see and hear the phases. Then the users is allowed to watch the featured character act out the phrase. Finally the user is expected to record themselves saying the phrase. Based on which features are turned on in the app, it can also be a great way to work on early literacy skills.

Picture the Sentence - Works on making sentences meaningful to the listener. A sentences is stated and a visual representation of each word is provided. The user is expected to determine which picture out of three best represents what they heard and place that picture inside an empty picture frame. A great tool for working on listening skills, auditory processing skills and auditory memory. Also, this is a great tool when your working with students on the autism spectrum.

You're the Storyteller: The Surprise - I use this app in multiple ways. When I am working on narrative skills with a students, I will frequently uses this app. I also use it with my articulation students that are working on carry-over to conversation. What could be better than having them create/record their own story and then go back to listen and rate their own articulation.

Talk About It Objects Pro - Is another wonderful app. Unlike the other apps by Hamaguchi Apps, this app doesn't feature following directions or early language development skills. It works on higher order language skills such as describing, categorizing, and recognizing the most important features of a specific object. Every time I use this app I am amazed at how hard the kids work so they can reach the simple little rewards that are built into the app.

Between the Lines Series - Consists of three apps that focus on pragmatic language skills. Some of the skills targeted include: perspective-taking, body language, facial expressions, understanding common expressions, auditory processing, and interpreting vocal intonation. They are great tool in an area that has limited apps. I only have the lite version of these three apps and would will be replacing each of them with the full version as money allows.
The apps in this series include: