A while ago, Helen and I were contacted by Special iApps and asked if we would review their apps. They very kindly gave Helen and I copies of the apps to review and have also offered to give some away through our blog! However the views expressed are my own.
Special iApps is a non-profit organisation who aim to help children learn and also support charities and organisations that help children. It was founded by a group of parents with experience of both education and software and they design apps to engage and educate children with special needs. To find out more about Special iApps and their products visit the website here. You can read our reviews of Special Words here and Special Stories here.
Today, I’m going to look at Special Numbers – this is another of the larger apps, currently priced at £9.99 and also 4 of the small apps – Touch-Shapes, Touch-Words, Touch-Number and Touch-Colour. These apps are currently priced at £1.49 each. Special Numbers is available from Apple and the Touch series are available for Apple and Android.
In the same way that special words is designed to develop early reading skills, Special Numbers is designed to develop early number skills. There are 6 tasks, each looking at a different area. For example counting, ordering numbers, matching numbers and comparing quantities.
As with all the Special iApps, Special Numbers is well thought out, has beautiful clear images and is easy to use. However, one of the best attributes of the app is how versatile it is and how easily you can tailor it for your child/ the child you are working with. So, for example, in the ‘How many’ task, you are initially presented with a number of circles between 1 and 5 and you have to select the matching numeral. However within the setting you can expand this up to 20 in 1 number increments, change the object and have animals, flowers or a number of other items and importantly for me you can change the order the numbers are delivered in and how they are presented on the screen. This means you can ensure the child understands the task and hasn’t just learnt the order! You can also alter the sounds and when they are played, how many items are displayed at once etc. Within the app you can also change languages, re-record your own words and have profiles for different children. I’m sure there are more features – I seem to find a new one each time I use it!
Now, obviously this app is well designed for teaching early numeracy skills, but being a speech and language therapist, I love looking at apps and seeing how I can use them in therapy. Counting is actually something I find myself doing in therapy, not to support number acquisition but to help with sound production. Even just going through the numbers 1-10, you have a good range of sounds at the beginning and ends of words and those tricky /f/ and /s/ sounds. So I have used the ‘counting’ task with children and we have counted bugs and animals whilst practising our sounds!
I have also used the ‘how many’ and ‘into the box’ tasks for vocabulary development. In the settings you can change the objects to bugs or animals among other things. So we have named the items and talked about where they live, if they are wild or could be pets and if we like them! The pictures are clear and provide a good talking point for language development.
The other task I have found useful is ‘Same or Different’. This task is designed to compare quantities and for the child to determine if they are the same or not. I have found it useful for teaching the concept of same and different. Initially you can have identical objects to make the task easier, but then you can have different objects. This has been tricky for some children I work with to see that the number of objects is the same, but the items are different. Again, this is where the fully adjustable settings make the app so versatile.
So not only is this app great for developing numeracy skills, but you can also support speech sound production, early concept development, vocabulary and expressive language skills! I’m also excited to see Special iApps latest product called Match and Find, which is aimed to develop matching, searching, ordering and memory skills.
I have been using Touch-Shapes, Touch-Words, Touch-Numbers, Touch Colours (all currently £1.49). There is also a 5th app called Touch-Emotions which is free to download. These apps offer support for children at the first stages of learning about number, words, colour, shape and emotions. With each one an image is displayed on the screen and when you touch the image you see the written word and hear the word corresponding to the image. It then moves onto the next pictures.
There are no settings to alter as in the larger apps, but these are a great introduction to learning. There are no in app adverts to accidentally click on and there is still a good range of vocabulary in each one. For example in Touch-Shapes it may start with circle and square, but also has hexagon and diamond! The child doesn’t need to be to precise with their hands, a finger tap or whole hand will trigger the word. All the apps are also modified for switch users on Apple devices. They are a good introduction to the Special iApps and if your child completes them, you can move onto the larger apps.
So now to the competition! We have 2 copies of Special Numbers and 2 bundles of the 4 Touch Apps available. To enter, leave a comment below. We will select winners on Monday 17th March. Good luck!
Update: We have just drawn the winners of this app. Congratulations to Peta and Tea for winning the Special Numbers app and to Celia and vlmaples for winning the other smaller apps. We have emailed the winners! Thanks to Special iApps too for their generosity in giving away the apps.