Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ECSE App All Star: Photo Buttons

Photo Buttons by  Software Smoothie is a simple cause-effect app.  Touching the screen makes a colorful circle appear, tapping the circle reveals the picture and accompanying sound, tap the picture and it pops and disappears.  There are 21 backgrounds to choose from, with a black screen as an option.  The black screen with the colorful buttons offers nice contrast for children with visual impairments. The app comes with 54 sample buttons.  Under settings, you can select which images you want to appear.  You can create customized buttons by using the device’s camera or pulling an image from the camera roll.  You can also add a recording to the image.  Creating customized buttons was a quick and easy process once I figured out that when in landscape orientation, I had to scroll down to find the “save” button.  The app is child friendly in that it does not have any ads or in app purchases and to access the settings, you need to press and hold the icon.  A few features that would make this app even better would be the ability to organize the custom buttons and add an option to make the buttons bigger.  I also wonder how many custom buttons you can make.  I am not sure if there is a limit, I couldn't find any documentation about this on the support site.  

This app stands out from other cause/effect apps because it allows me to customize the images that are triggered by the touch.  So now I have an app option that builds visual discrimination skills, cause/effect skills, and functional vocabulary.  This app would be a good option for use with children learning English as a second language.  I can also see therapists and interventionists finding uses for this app in working on a variety of language and readiness concepts.  I look forward to hearing about how this app is being used in ECSE.  Here are a few app activity suggestions.  

Photo Buttons App Activity:  Color scavenger hunt:  Children really enjoy the novelty of popping the images and watching them disappear and going on scavenger hunts.  Create a custom scavenger hunt around targeted skills such colors.  Create buttons for a variety of colors and the numbers 1 through 5. Touch the screen until several numbers and colors are on the screen.  Students take turns choosing a number and color, finding that number of objects of the chosen color, and then popping the number and color to complete a turn.

Parent App Activity:  Nature scavenger hunt:  Encourage outdoor play and exploration by using the same method as above to create custom buttons of things in the your yard and outdoor areas.  Help your child find and talk about the items before popping the image and making it disappear.  

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