AppStore User Rating:
Key Word Kids is a language learning app suitable for young and special needs students. It offers guided and independent practice with oral and written comprehension of information-bearing key words in a playful environment.
- Useful level check feature
- Four levels of comprehension complexity
- Recording feature
- Immediate feedback and error correction
- Adjustable reward frequency
Key Word Kids is an outstanding app designed to provide practice with vital language skills. It offers practice with four levels of comprehension as well as expressive play that can be guided or independent. The illustrations are clear and easy to follow. Adult speech/language practitioners, teachers, parents and caregivers can easily use the app to build language skills with young children as well as those with special needs like memory or processing problems, attention deficit disorder, autism and children who are learning English as a second language.
Key Word Kids provides a glimpse of the power of the Ipad to provide individualized, appropriate instruction to an array of students. The app includes a Level Check that will guide mentors in finding the correct complexity to be useful to the student. There is a Comprehension section that requires students to understand and follow directions with two to five key words that convey the meaning of the prompt. Directions can be presented in verbal or text form, or both. In addition, users can also access the comprehension sentences individually to fine tune practice sessions. The app offers immediate feedback for correct responses and appropriate and clear correction when a child makes a mistake. This section uses two different response types: tapping and dragging.
The expressive level provides five different scenes, including house and beach as well as more exotic locations like Africa. Each scene includes an array of characters, animals and props that students can move onto the scene by tapping. They work like stickers from other programs, but users can choose from a wide variety of characters doing things like digging or running. Once on the scene, the user can move the items around with a dragging interface. The app includes an optional recording mode, so that student language can be captured for assessment or general information.
The only downside to this app (for American audiences, that is) is that it is in British English. Adults using it, particularly with special needs students, will need to preview the entire app to pinpoint words that have uniquely British usages that American children will not be familiar with, such as calling a cookie a “biscuit”.
It would also be very nice if the developers could find a way to have the app keep separate records for multiple users. Most classroom settings would welcome this feature, and it would greatly extend the app’s usefulness.
Key Word Kids is fun to play with, and children will be intrigued by the core activities. However, app designers also included a brilliant system of “minigames” that will allow the app to hold students’ attention over a longer time, effectively increasing its useful life.
The minigames are combinations of following directions and challenging eye-hand coordination tasks. Each is timed and keeps high score records that can be reset.
The most unique aspect of the system, and one that I appreciate most as an educator is the ability to set the reward frequency, though. Adult users can choose how often the reward games appear, Choices range from rewards offered after every fifth task up to a challenging 25 tasks, or the automatic rewards can be turned off completely. The games can also be accessed manually in the “Extras” section, so a teacher or parent could provide the games at any time appropriate for the student’s needs.
Though this app seems somewhat expensive, it is an outstanding value for the money. It is very well-suited for the population of special needs and ESL students for which it is designed, and has a huge amount of flexibility that will make it a favorite of speech and language practitioners, special education teachers, and anyone who works with a child with language problems.
Key Word Kids is very child-friendly. There are no advertisements, links to social media, or in-app purchases. The Information section does contain buttons that link to the internet and to email clients, but they are well-protected by a passcode system that requires users to match icons with different icons with which they are or were associated. For example, a stylized picture of a computer 3.5 inch disk is to be matched with a stylized drawing of a computer.