If asked what my boys love to do in therapy, it always comes down to 3 things: Angry Birds, iPad and Legos. If you read back to my post on Angry Birds, you can see that I linked the iPad and interactive play into the same activity. I really enjoy doing this with iPad based activities. But it isn’t always easy. Lego based iPad apps are often highly involved games, movie makers, etc and they are solely iPad based. I like activities with manipulatives in the immediate therapeutic environment. Legos are great but come with a variety of dilemmas as well. The games come with a MILLION pieces and take time to set up, and time is valuable in any session! Just straight Legos often require me to provide extensive structure – time limits, goals, purpose, etc.
I was walking through a local bookstore recently and a strange box caught my eye. It looked like (yet another) Lego game, but there was a mention of iOS. So I stopped to read it. I then walked out of the store with a very popular purchase, my guys LOVE it! Let me introduce you to “Life of George”
Life of George comes in a nice small box, so less space taken up in my closet! The 14+ age range on the front of the box has me a little concerned, considering a lot of my clients are 5th grade or younger. However, after playing it just once on my own, I knew even my 2nd graders would be able to handle this activity. Also, it specifies that the app attached to the box contents was for iPhone. Although you can use iPhone apps on the iPad, sometimes it really isn’t that functional. The graphics get fuzzy, the app navigation isn’t as responsive, etc. But again, it seemed too good to be true, so I had to give it a try! It worked GREAT on the iPad! It was a tad grainy in some scenes, but the navigation and game play don’t seem to be impacted at all when using the “2x” feature.
Inside the box were two bag of Legos (put in ziplock baggies by me) and a thick card with a grid printed on it. The app is a free download from the iTunes store. You are given a map of continents to select from, and it brings you to a scrapbook like page with blank photos. Each photo you click on is a new, timed, challenge in which you build the Lego constructed image presented on the page . Within the time limit you not only need to construct the image, but also place it on the card and snap a picture which is then scored by the app.
I have paired this activity with a few different lessons. It clearly can work as an incentive, and the nice thing is that each round is extremely short. So, letting each member of your speech group play a round at the end won’t take any significant time away from your therapy. I also have a group with whom I have been working on “waiting turns”. This involves discussing what we do while waiting for our turn in a game and how our words/actions/attention impacts the group. Cheering, advice and even “awww mmmaaannnn…” when an oops occurs are some of the things we work on. We discuss it as a group, because often both parties need practice giving AND receiving. We practice giving helpful advice (versus “know-it-all” advice) and accepting advice from peers. We also talk about cheering to encourage versus to distract them from doing better than you. This is a great game to practice this on because cheering during a Lego activity is MUCH different than cheering through a gross motor activity (like Angry Birds)! We aren’t going to be jumping up and down screaming “GET THAT BLOCK! YEAH!”. Instead we can talk about how loud our voice should be using a 5 point scale, and specific things we can comment on (ex: “Yeah, the yellow block! Nice job!”). I keep tally marks on the board for who comments/cheered/etc and they get to “earn” their turn at the game by participating throughout their waiting turns. After each round, I ask the player how the cheers and advice made them feel. It’s great for them to hear from each other how they are impacting the group!
- Practice snapping the picture of the creations on the grid a few times on your own BEFORE moving this into therapy. If the lighting is bad, there is a lot of reflection you snap is sideways, etc you end up without ANY points. If something does go wrong, I’ll often have the students “judge” each other to off-set the bad score and hurt feelings.
- You cannot replay a round – so there is no “fixing” it. I’ve gotten around this by simply deleting the app and then re-downloading it to clear EVERYTHING. I have enough groups playing that this allows us to play for weeks on end.
- If you are going to be re-installing the app routinely, take a picture of the blank “scrapbook” page and print it out for each group. Then group members can keep track of which ones they have done to avoid the “awww… I did this already! This is dumb” stalemate.
- Go through and check all of the images first, making note of ones that might not be appropriate. For example, the first time you access the North America page, you get a bar scene and the first image is a cocktail. Thankfully, the bar doesn’t reappear on subsequent visits to that scrapbook and the image itself appears less clear once “completed”. All of my students think its a flamingo *smile*
- I am sure to explain the game to parents and often ask that they do NOT purchase this app as soon as they leave therapy. I have frequently run into the situation where parents go out and purchase a game that their child LOVES in therapy, and then it stops working for me in therapy. Ug!
- They have recently come out with a NEW app, Build Your Brain, that works with the same materials! This is “game show” based and involves some problem solving to answer questions with the blocks. Not great for my younger ones, but the middle schoolers are loving it!
Go enjoy some Legos in therapy this week! *smile*
– Tara, the SpeechyKeenSLP
*Disclaimer: When I link to a product on Amazon, I do include my associates code. I do this to help purchase more therapy items down the road! If this bothers you, simple go to Amazon and search for it on your own and it will not count any of the purchase towards me!