Reviewed by Mary
Rainbow Sentences is the newest app from Mobile Education Store. They are best known for their Builder series of language apps – including Sentence Builder, Conversation Builder and Preposition Builder. Although this app shares some common features with the builder series, it includes new features that make it much more accessible to younger students or those who are not yet confident readers. This developer is well known for its apps for Special Needs children, however this is an app that is useful for all children to help with their English Language skills.
Rainbow Sentences helps children work on the who, what, where and why of sentence formation, but instead of approaching it by teaching what a noun, verb or preposition is, it uses a system of color coding. The app is very customizable to the level of the student. You start by creating a student profile, which allows you to track the child’s progress. The app has the ability to track multiple students. Every page has an image that tells a story -there are 168 of these, and they are bright, cheerful, engaging and funny – they definitely kept my children interested in the app.
At the simplest level the sentence is divided into 2 parts – blue (who) and red (what), both the words and the lines (to which you drag them) are color-coded. As the child starts to drag the partial sentence the words are spoken – making it suitable to use with a child who can’t yet read. Once the sentence is in place the child can press “play” the hear what it sounds like, if they are happy with it they press “I’m done” – and they get told whether or not their answer is correct. If it’s incorrect they can try again, if its correct they get to record their sentence and can play it back. You can save the recording. On level 2 the sentence is divided into 3 parts – blue (who), red (what) and green (where). Level 3 has 4 parts -blue, red, green and orange (why). The child earns a puzzle piece after 5 correct answers, when complete the puzzle is animated.
As the child becomes more confident in their sentence building capabilities you can increase the difficulty level in several ways. You can remove the color-coding from the lines, from the words, or both. You can also turn off the word grouping. So, at its most difficult level the words are ungrouped, with no color-coding and the sentence will include who, where, what and why. Because all these various features can be switched on and off independently, it makes a very flexible app that can be used by students with a huge range of abilities.
I used this app with my almost 5-year-old twins and was amazed by how much they could do with it. They were both very engaged in using the app, and they would sit either side of me, waiting to have their turn. One of the twins has Apraxia, and as a result has expressive language delays. Using this app she showed me that she could build sentences that are much more advanced than she is able to express verbally. I like having the ability to record and play back the completed sentence, as it is useful both for engaging the children, and for working on expressive language or articulation.
I do have a couple of suggestions that I think would make this excellent app even better:
a) Give an option to vary the reward level- for some children having 60 correct answers before you complete a puzzle may be too much.
b) Have a group therapy option – where you preload a group of students so they can take turns without having to go back to the main settings and log in and out between turns.
I think this is an excellent app that is useful both for special needs and normally developing children. It makes working on grammar fun- something we all could have done with in school! Highly recommended.
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