Saturday, November 24, 2012

REVIEW/ GIVEAWAY: Count to 100! by FuzzyBees


Count to 100! by FuzzyBees (1.99 at time of review, iPad only)

While there are a large number of math apps on the market, only some do it well, and even less have children with special needs in mind- Count to 100! does. And while clearly developed with special needs in mind, Count to 100! would make a great reference tool for any young child learning how to count. As others have pointed out, this is also a very useful app for early addition and multiplication skills. The child can use the visual patterns to help solve simple math problems.

The developer is the parent of a child who has special needs, so it is no surprise that she would build on that knowledge to incorporate features that would be most beneficial. The features that stood out to me were the simple uncluttered visual background, and the use of visual and auditory cues to guide the learner. There is also a mechanism to prevent access to the settings unintentionally- the child needs to touch the house symbol and then touch it quickly again to exit to the settings. In addition, a number of customizable features in the settings allow the parent, educator, or child himself- as you can see in the video- to adjust settings to fit individual needs.


Count To:
You can change the amount of numbers displayed on the screen- you can choose between 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or 100.

Count By:
You can practice counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, 10s, or 25s? (Normal Mode only)

Normal- numbers have to be tapped in the right order.
Tap Any- any number can be tapped anywhere on the screen (this is great for learning and exploring, whereas Normal mode is great for practicing).


How do you want the numbers displayed - will they remain on the screen throughout the task (Always Displayed), or should they appear only when touched (Displayed When Tapped)?

Numbers- when turned on numbers will be spoken when tapped.
SFX- if on, a soft buzz will sound when a number button is touched out order; when Number sounds are off, a soft tone will play when each correct number is touched.
Music- turn the music on or off, without changing the sound effects.

These "special" touches did not go unnoticed as I tried it with my own two children. My 8 year old is autistic, and his younger brother who has some delays as well as ADHD and sensory difficulties, is somewhere on the spectrum. Despite being nearly four years apart, both children are able to benefit from Count to 100! My youngest is in kindergarten, is practicing learning his numbers, counting, and making simple number patterns. My oldest is in 3rd grade and is using Count to 100! as a visual and auditory homework tool for simple addition and multiplication.

Using the App:

When the start button is pressed, a tone will sound to signal the beginning of the task. The type of task is displayed on the screen as well- you will see my five-year-old refer to it and correct himself as a result of this visual cue. I prefer to have the numbers displayed for my youngest-he is still getting used to many of his numbers- I hide them for my oldest as an extra challenge. Both respond well to having the number spoken aloud when correct, and an incorrect buzz sounding when an incorrect number is touched. In the video of my 5-year-old, you will see him start to rely on the visual pattern as he works on completing his tens. Once he has this mastered, we can try this with the numbers hidden.

Simple, consistent praise is used when a task is completed. There is verbal praise "Yay", followed by clapping and a quick "Fuzzy Bees" animation to signal completion of the task. The child can press the replay button to do the task again, or return to the settings screen to change the task/ adjust the settings.

See a short video below:

Wish list (I always have one!)
- Perhaps there could be a way to adjust the size of the buttons in the settings so children with motor impairment could benefit from this learning tool?
-Could there be a setting to turn off the highlighting? This would make it closest to a paper and pencil task, which would be the least amount of scaffolding for the child. I would like to see how my child does without the visual cues after he has had plenty of practice with the highlighting on.

I really don't have much to nitpick. Perhaps next "Count to 500" will come out to meet our needs as my children grow older? This developer definitely go inside my head on this one- it's a lovely simple and effective tool for learning. I am glad to have Count to 100! available to my children- especially at homework time. What's 2+2? 10x 3? Go check for yourself!
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