What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that SentenceBuilder for iPad helps kids learn to form sentences and gain a better understanding of grammar. This app is helpful for kids who may have difficulty with organization of language issues such as omissions of critical parts of sentences. There are multiple levels to play; kids can create a variety of sentence types across a range of difficulty. A simple game format makes it easy to create sentences, but the cartoonish animations may not motivate all kids in the same way.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- letter or word recognition
- writing clearly
Thinking & Reasoning
- part-whole relationships
- conveying messages effectively
Engagement, Approach, Support
Although the concept is a solid way to get students using language, the game is quite basic and could use better images, animations, and narration to really engage. More ways to play might also do the trick.
Instead of simply identifying parts of speech, students put them to use creating sentences. Sentence structure and difficulty vary by level, and -- though not explicitly -- some complex grammatical concepts are addressed.
Teachers get data on how many sentences students formed correctly at each level and how many attempts it took them. However, there's no data given on specific skills or parts of speech. Also, getting started is a bit tricky.
What's it about?
SENTENCEBUILDER FOR IPAD uses games to guide kids through the sentence-creation process. After setting up an account, kids can choose the level at which they'd like to start. They also can choose the module they'd like to play and how often they want to view animations. Parents can create and manage multiple accounts within the app.
During the game, kids see a picture and a word-selector tool, which they use to choose the words to describe what they see. There are correct and incorrect combinations, and kids move the selectors to form a grammatically correct sentence. Details play an important role. For example, if a clown is juggling three balls, the sentence "the clown is juggling four balls" won't fly. Stats track the number of sentences attempted, as well as the number of correct sentences on the first, second, and third attempts. However, the app doesn't measure success with specific parts of speech or grammatical concepts like subject-verb agreement.
Is it any good?
SentenceBuilder for iPad can be a valuable way to help emerging readers and writers learn to create grammatically correct sentences. Also, although the app won't teach it directly, kids can pick up some of the important grammar skills that people tend to pick up more implicitly, simply through reading and using language. Often, reading and conversing with others are the best ways for kids to glean these skills. However, where books and conversations don't always give feedback on mistakes, SentenceBuilder for iPad can help support kids as they learn the thought process behind sentence-building.
Unfortunately, the design lacks a bit of polish and pizzazz. Pictures designed to accompany the sentences resemble low-quality clip art. Also, some cheesy animations designed to motivate kids have no relevance to the sentences and seem a bit haphazardly placed.
Families can talk about...
Using meaningful events from your kids' lives, write out words on index cards and have kids arrange them into sentences.
Play the app along with kids -- help them with feedback as they work to form grammatically correct sentences.