by JoAnn Giannobile

SUBJECT AREA: Scanning/Switch Training

(805) 396-8676

COST: $75

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Lower functioning students, students with multiple disabilities and their friends.

REQUIRED HARDWARE: Macintosh LCIII or faster, 8 MB of RAM, 13" color monitor, and 14 MB of hard drive space. External speakers are recommended. A Windows version is available.

ACCESS OPTIONS: Single switch, TouchWindow, Intellikeys, Key Largo (with Ke:nx), mouse or mouse emulation device.

EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To teach cause and effect, scanning, and color recognition, and to increase visual and auditory memory.

DESCRIPTION: Three games with three levels of difficulty provide entertainment and learning experiences for young children of all ability levels. Built-in, adjustable scanning capabilities provide training, as well as access, for children who cannot use the conventional mouse.
Easy Level: In "The Shell Game," one of three turtles steals a tomato or cucumber. The turtles shift positions and snap their shells closed. Visual and auditory cues can be used to help students remember which turtle has the veggie. The responses are untimed and there is instant feedback whether the selection made was correct or incorrect. If a wrong answer is selected a turtle responds, "Uh-uh-uh, not me!" and then disappears, leaving only two more choices. There is always an opportunity for success. If only one shell remains, when the child selects it, the turtle admits to having the veggie and quickly eats it. Scoring is based on completed games, not on the number of correct responses.

Medium Level: At "The Pond" there are six turtles and a number of other creatures in a pond scene. A tomato bounces around the screen and eventually disappears into a hole or the pond or behind a bush. The child has to remember where it went. Clues are optional. If the child chooses incorrectly and picks the wrong spot, one of the characters on screen will perform an animated routine but show that they do not have the tomato. (My favorite is the happy little fish who leaps and dances to classical music.) When the correct choice is made, a turtle will emerge from the spot and gulp down the tomato. Points at this level are also based on completed games.
Hard Level: The "Tomato Dump" has two games. The first game involves 24 turtles colored red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple. At the easiest of three levels, the child is asked to pick the correct turtle while being shown three clues, a picture of the colored turtle, the word for the color, and an appropriately colored oval surrounding the clues. The next two levels eliminate the color clues leaving only the word as a clue.
The second game in this level is called "Find My Song." The six colored turtles each have a tune. The student must match the tune to the turtle. As incorrect selections are made, the turtle disappears so eventually only one turtle remains. This way, even a beginner can enjoy success.
Scoring at the hard level is more competetive. It is based on correct responses.

STRENGTHS: Untimed responses, instant feedback, large and clear graphics, cute voices, sound effects and entertaining music are all notable strengths. I love the "splats" and "klunks," the sound of the crickets at the pond and the turtle who has the tomato saying, "A-yup, I have the tomato" and then noisily gulping it down. Scanning speeds can be adjusted for all levels.

WEAKNESSES: In "The Pond" incorrect responses result in cute characters performing entertaining animations. This may be rewarding in itself and distract the child from trying to get the correct answer.

SUMMARY: This simple program effectively teaches switch use and early scanning. Three levels of difficulty act as an equalizer to insure that children with multiple disabilities can interact successfully with their non-disabled peers.
JoAnn Giannobile is a graduate student in the Special Education Department at Trenton State College.

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