Recently, I was asked if I would review an app of a different type. This app is not designed for solely for speech-language therapy, and frankly, I’m feeling a bit out of my comfort zone with it. Although literacy is in our scope of practice, I am definitely not a reading specialist.
The app is called VROOM VROOM Race to Read. It is a very simplistic app designed to be a “game” to help with build reading skills. It’s currently $6.99 in iTunes.
Essentially, the player chooses a car and starts the race. A banner shows the target word (in this case “bag”). As the car moves around the race track, the player needs to tap ONLY the word “bag” to avoid a car crash.
The game allows the adult to track the words read, the number of errors, etc. I think that could be useful as it will help the teacher/parent/adult figure out whether or not the child is struggling with certain words.
The number behind the word indicates the number of tries to complete the race. So, for “bag” it took two tries to finish. The report can be printed easily.
There are 6 different word lists with increasing complexity as the student progresses. The adult user can also input their own words which I think could potentially be wonderful.
From the website: “There are close to 800 words to learn:
Level 1 – consonant-vowel-consonant short vowel
Level 2 – consonant-vowel-consonant long vowel silent “e”
Level 3 – 2-vowel walking and au, aw, ow, ou
Level 4 – dge, tch, ck
Level 5 – blends
Level 6 – Dolch words
And, create your own reading/spelling word lists!”
I think the app could be a good way to reinforce the need to pay attention to the whole word – they can’t guess the word says “bag” every time they see a “ba” in a word. I can see where this would be critical (and to be honest, there were a couple of times I didn’t read the whole word and crashed!) The app does go from short vowel words to silent e and more challenging sight words.
The word level can be set for individuals so that they are not constantly starting at level 1 which is wonderful.
I tried the app out on my daughter (who is a bit too old for it) and it was met with a “eh” attitude. But to be fair, she is NOT in the target audience (she just happened to be a kid I had available). I think that for early readers (late K and 1st grade) it could be entertaining for short bits of time. As I said, it’s a very simplistic app and I don’t know that it would keep their attention for a long period of time. However, I can see where the classroom teacher may want to use it as a way to reinforce spelling/reading during quiet times in the classroom. Being able to avoid the car crashing was fun.
Ways the app could be better? If the course changed shape with each level. As it is, the course is the same throughout and doesn’t change. It would also be fun if you could have two cars on the track at the same time. Perhaps instead of a crash it could be a slow down and/or speed up and it’s truly a race. The way it is now it gets…tedious.
All in all, it’s not a bad app – it meets the purpose and is mildly entertaining. This is not one that I would rush to the administration and say we NEED this app…But it is one that I’d show to various teachers and parents and let them try it to make up their own mind.
So…have you used the app? I’d love to hear what you thought. Drop me a note.
Until then…Adventure on!