Tuesday, December 11, 2012

App Review & Giveaway: Rainbow Sentences

I've seen a few reviews out there for Rainbow Sentences and I really didn't think it would be appropriate for the students on my caseload (mostly preschool, some kindergarten).  When Kyle from Mobile Education Store asked me if I'd like to try it, I was a little hesitant.  However, I knew it would be a great app and I was very curious to see it in action.

I was right! Rainbow Sentences is a great app!  I was also VERY pleasantly surprised with how well it worked with my little ones!

How it Works:

Once you open the app for the first time, you will be prompted to create a new student profile.  (You can enter multiple students with this app, but you can only take data for one student at a time.)

After that, you are taken to the "Settings" screen:

About the Settings:

Audio Instructions
This one is fairly self-explanatory.  On:  A narrator gives you step-by-step instructions.  Off:  You do not get the instructions

Correct Answer Reinforcement
If you have this option selected, when a student arranges the sentence correctly, a verbal reinforcement is provided ("That's right.  The correct sentence for this picture is...").  If you turn this option off, you do not get the verbal reinforcement.  Rather, you will move on to recording the correct answer if that option is selected.  

Record Correct Answer
This is one of the best features of all of Mobile Education Store's apps!  Once a student selects an appropriate answer, you have the option of recording the student saying the response.  You can turn this option off, but I can't imagine why you would want to!  Most kids love to hear their own voices.  Plus you can compare the narrator/student production.

Complexity Level
Level 1:  The student has to arrange two elements to form a sentence:  
Who/what the sentence is about + what they are doing.

Level 2:  The student has to arrange three elements to form a sentence:  
Who/what the sentence is about + what they are doing + where they are doing it.

Level 3:  The student has to arrange four elements to form a sentence:  
Who/what the sentence is about + what they are doing + where they are doing it + why they are doing it.

*In all three levels, some of the sentences have an additional element:  what the subject is doing the action to.  Here's an example:

Line Color Coding
You can choose to have the blank lines (where you drag the words) color coded or not.  If you do not choose color coding, the lines will be black:

Line color coding "off"

Word Color Coding
Just as you can choose to use color coding for the lines, you can choose color coding for the words.  Again, if this option is turned off, the words will appear in black:

Line & word color coding "off"

Color Themes
Another really neat feature!  You can use the standard "default" color theme, or create your own!  Just give your color scheme a name and select your favorite colors for each sentence element!

Word Grouping
You can choose to have the students order the sentences by individual words or by groupings of words.  Here is a scene with word grouping on and one with word grouping off:

Word grouping on

Word grouping off

Using the App

Once you have your preferred settings selected, tap "Play" from the bottom menu bar.  You will be shown an illustration and prompted to "drag the words to make a sentence."  

You can tap the words to hear them spoken.  Once you have the words in place, you can tap "Play" to hear your sentence read aloud.  When you think the sentence is correct, tap "I'm done!"  If you are not correct, you will be told "That's not quite right.  Try again."  If the student needs help, you can select "Play lesson" to hear a short tutorial.  

If you have the "Record Correct Answer" setting turned on, you can choose to record the student's response or move on to the next sentence.  You can save the recordings in the student profile.  They will save to the "Archive" screen on the bottom menu bar.

saving a recording

archive of recordings

Another fantastic feature is the data collection.  Notice the "Stats" button on the bottom toolbar?  If you tap that button, you will be shown a summary of the student's correct/incorrect responses.  You can then email the stats to a parent or to yourself.

data summary

See the "Show my puzzle" button?  Rainbow Sentences has built-in reinforcement.  For every five correct responses, the student is rewarded with a puzzle piece.  When the puzzle is completed, it becomes a short animated clip.

Puzzle reinforcement in progress

Puzzle completed

What I like about this app:

  • Versatility!  Yes, there are three levels of complexity.  Beyond that, though, you have the line color coding and word color coding options.  Turning those off will increase complexity within each level.  This means that you can use this app with a wide age range!
  • The color coding!  Because of this feature, you can really use this app with children who cannot read. The kids I used it with cannot read, but were able to match the colors and imitate the sentences.
  • The illustrations.  They are bright and colorful.  Some are relatable...others are silly...they are all engaging!
  • Data collection.  Need I say more?
  • Built in reinforcement.  

What changes I would like to see:

  • I really wish I could think of something to write here, but I really can't.  (I think this is a first for me!)

The Bottom Line:
I'm a fan of Mobile Education Store and their apps for language development.  With that said, I was very pleasantly surprised by Rainbow Sentences!  It really surpassed my expectations (even though my expectations were already high).  I thought for sure that this app would only be beneficial for students who are able to read.  Really, if a child can match colors, they will be able to benefit from using Rainbow Sentences.  I think this is a must-have app for expanding expressive language skills! 

Rainbow Sentences sells for $7.99 in the App Store.  Kyle was kind enough to provide another code for me to giveaway!  Enter using the rafflecopter below.

Disclaimer:  Although Kyle at Mobile Education Store was kind enough to provide me with a code for this app review, and another to give away, the opinions are 100% my own. :)

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