Rounds: Franklin Frog

Rounds: Franklin Frog

by Nosy Crow ($5.49AUD)

Rounds: Franklin Frog is a non-fiction interactive app which looks at the lifecycle of a frog in a fun and appealing way. The genre is a simple narrative, and is well designed with lovely graphics and music. This app is suitable for children in primary and special education schools. It is easy to use and navigate and has a help section. Rounds: Franklin Frog begins with the home screen where the user can view information about how to use the app or select their preferred reading option. There are two reading options:

  • Read and play – this option is read by a child narrator. Words can be highlighted as the text is being read or this feature can be turned off.
  • Read by myself – this option allows the user to select different transition speeds.

The Read and play section is fantastic because the user plays an important part helping the characters through the frog lifecycle. They help Franklin get food; hibernate; swim; find a mate; and help Felicity lay frogspawn and protect them from hungry fish. After this, we are introduced to Fraser, who we help get out of his egg; eat food and grow into a tadpole, froglet and a frog. Users are then taken through the same cycle until we meet Fletcher, and then it all repeats again. Throughout this learning journey, interesting facts about frogs and their lifecycles are given to the user in the form of comments by the character(s). The correct scientific terminology is used and communicated in such a way that it doesn’t confuse young learners.

Rounds: Franklin Frog is a perfect way to teach children about the biology of frogs using the metalanguage of science, at an appropriate level for children up to about age 10. It is interactive and fun for young learners, with enough science facts to promote deep knowledge and understanding. The app features 100s of facts about: habitats; food chains; predators and prey; mating; and the actual stages in a frog’s lifecycle. The ‘rounds’ nature of the book is great for two reasons: 1) it shows the repetitive nature of the lifecycle of a frog, and 2) the repetition helps students understand and learn the lifecycle stages more deeply.

While reading the story, I accidently pressed the home button on my device. When I re-opened the app, the help screen popped up and asked me if I would like to continue reading, change my settings, or restart the story. This feature is great because a lot of children may tap the wrong button in error.

Future Educational Recommendations: I think this app could be rounded off with some simple activities so that the user can demonstrate their understanding of the frog’s lifecycle. For example, putting together the stages in a frog’s lifecycle on a circular chart, or a quick quiz. However, the learning content in Rounds: Franklin Frog makes this app well worth the download.

Overall, Rounds: Franklin Frog is exactly the type of app that makes mLearning fun and motivating for young students. The simple narrative genre hides the fact that students are actually learning.

Check out my screenshots of Rounds: Franklin Frog and the official trailer below:

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Disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are entirely the authors.

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Rainbow Sentences

Rainbow Sentences

by Mobile Education Store ($8.49AUD)

The Rainbow Sentences iPad app helps students build grammatically correct sentences. The parts of a sentence are colour-coded according to a pre-set template or they can be customised according to your own system of colour coding. The app starts off in the settings mode. This is where students are added; line and word colour-coding is changed; the difficulty level is adjusted; a customised colour theme can be added; and other items such as audio, reinforcement, and word grouping can be turned on or off.

Rainbow Sentences helps students who have trouble understanding the different parts of a sentence by grouping words into chunks. Once you have set up the app for a user, you can hand it over to your student and they can start right away. There are 55 sentences within each of the three levels:

  • Level 1 focuses on who the sentence is about and what they are doing. An example of this would be ‘The frog (who) is swimming (what)’. As the user becomes more proficient, the colour-coding can be turned off.
  • Level 2 builds on level 1 and includes who the sentence is about, what they are doing, and adds where they are doing it. An example of this would be: ‘The monkey (who) is sitting (what) next to the bananas (where)’.
  • Level 3 builds on levels 1 & 2 and includes who the sentence is about, what they are doing, where they are doing it, and adds why they are doing it. An example of this would be: ‘The dog (who) is jumping (what) toward the Frisbee (where) to try to catch it (why)’.

Check out the video below, or the images at the end of this blog, to see Rainbow Sentences in action:

The parts of the sentences are presented at the bottom of the screen out of order. There is an image depicting what the sentence is about as a visual reinforcement for the user. If you have line and word colour-coding turned on, the parts of the sentence will be in a matching colour to the lines presented at the top of the screen. The user has to drag and drop the parts onto the sentence strip at the top of the screen. The words are spoken as each part is dragged. If they are correct, the sentence is repeated back to them. They are then given the choice to record and playback their sentence and save it for later review.

The app also features a ‘show’ button in which the app will build and speak the sentence for them if they are experiencing difficulties. If the user incorrectly builds a sentence the parts are placed back down to the bottom of the screen. After a second incorrect attempt, the app will demonstrate it for the user. As the user becomes more proficient, the colour-coding can be turned off to enable full mastery of the concepts.

The user receives positive reinforcement and encouragement throughout the building process. Correct answers will result in an added bonus of a puzzle piece. The more answers that are answered correctly, the more pieces will be added. Rainbow Sentences is designed in such a way that the beginner right through to the advanced user can navigate and respond in an appropriate way for their own academic level. The colour-coding of words and lines is a fantastic way for the user to understand the concepts of grammatically correct sentences and to build them successfully, which is important to early literacy development and self-esteem. There is a section within the app called ‘Stats’ and this is where the user can view and email their performance to an educator or parent.

As an Australian educator who utilises functional grammar in the classroom, I can easily see this successfully implemented in my classroom. There were some minor issues with the custom colour-coding prior to the latest update; however, Mobile Education Store responded to my inquiry, fixed these issues, and updated Rainbow Sentences through Apple within two weeks of my original query. One little voice was heard and action was taken – thank you!

In the ‘Settings’ area there is an option to change the colour themes, which is what I have done to align the app with Australian functional grammar. Functional grammar utilises 3 colours: red for the participant (who/what), green for the process (what they are doing), and blue for the circumstance (where/why they are doing it). Check the images below to see how I set this up in Rainbow Sentences. I was delighted to find that my custom colour-coding worked perfectly and aligned with the way that I teach grammar. I know many educators will be very pleased with the ability to change the colour themes to suit their needs.

Overall, Rainbow Sentences is very easy to use, is really great for language and grammar use, and provides visual and audio stimuli for different styles of learning. The incorporation of positive reinforcement helps promote successful learning outcomes. The default format is clear, easy to use and easy to understand. The user(s) are guided by the program and they can obtain help if they need it. I really love Rainbow Sentences because it addresses curriculum statements. It also makes it easier to have successful lessons which integrate the iPad, fulfilling the need to use ICTs and mLearning in education today.

I recommend Rainbow Sentences to educators, parents, and other professionals for regular and targeted use with their students or children.

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Disclaimer: The opinions on this blog are entirely the author’s.