Bottom line: This app uses fun zoo animals to teach opposite words with a book, song, and game. It's a great pick for toddlers, preschoolers and those with language delays to learn important vocabulary.
If you would like to purchase You and Me: We're Opposites ($3.99 iPad only), scroll up and down then click this link which supports Smart Apps for Kids:
When I get assigned a book app to review, I often cringe and hold my breath as I open it. I love reading, I'm a speech-language pathologist who loves language, but book apps don't usually thrill me—and sometimes, they even annoy me.
Thankfully, this app from CJ Educations and Blue Apple Books, is exactly what I want in a book app. It features a story by Harriet Ziefert, a prolific children's book writer—and this might be step one of "creating a book app that Heather likes." There are no forced rhymes, no awkward prose, and no overly verbose pages. (Maybe I have a thing or two to learn!)
You and Me: We're Opposites simply and effectively teaches 14 opposite pairs using cute animal characters. A pink flamingo is nice while a blue gorilla is grouchy. A big elephant steps on a little lizard's tail, and an excited seal is in the water, while a forlorn looking seal is out. These opposites are animated and humorously demonstrate the language they represent—a happy sloth sits on the back of an irritated standing rhino, and a dry otter splashes a koala, who is now wet.
The app has most of the features I find necessary in a book app: it can be played in Auto Play and in Read to Me; there is a pause button in the auto play and a page index to easily navigate; and in Read to Me mode the text reading can be turned off (though it is currently a little quirky—it doesn't always stay off when turning to the next page).
There is also an option that appears to turn off the music, but instead turns off the extra sound—the bee doesn't buzz and the water doesn't splash, but the background music still plays constantly. I'm hopeful that will be fixed in a future update, as constantly playing background music has a tendency to make me just like the gorilla—very grumpy!
I noticed a few extra animations to activate in the Read to Me mode—when each animal is tapped, the animation is repeated, but there is no new action. This keeps the emphasis on the point of the book, and adds to the educational value. The goal of this app is not only to entertain, but also to actually teach the opposite concepts.
There is also a short, animated song, featuring all 14 word pairs and the characters. While the music isn't exactly Grammy-worthy, the simple, repetitive melody and highlighted words make it perfectly suited to the target population. The music number here and in the developer's app, What Color is Bear's Underwear, really liven up what are essentially board books.
My favorite part of the app, though, is the Activity. In this section, one animal is featured in a fenced area, with three of the other animals from the book outside. The user has to choose which animal completes the opposite pair. Does the fast cheetah or the little lizard go with the big elephant? An incorrect choice results in an "uh-oh", while choosing correctly leads to cheers.
The app is targeted for 2-4 year olds, and it's definitely a great app for preschoolers. But it has a permanent spot on my app list for kindergarteners and first graders working on vocabulary. Many children with a language delay or disorder need practice and intervention to learn vocabulary, including opposites. Flash cards are often used, but they are boring. This app is a fun and engaging way to help teach these concepts.
The vocabulary building opportunities don't stop at opposite words. There are spatial concepts ('in' and 'on' are especially prevalent) and a variety of action words to learn (fly, pound, throw, run, stomp, swim…) on each page. I also was very impressed by the emotions conveyed by different animals. Why does the sloth look happy, while the rhino is annoyed? How does the koala feel when he gets splashed with water? Why is the zookeeper so excited at the end?
Besides the small quirks with the sound options and a rather steep price, I found little wrong with this app. It's a cute book for all kids, and teachers and therapists should take extra note of the reinforcing game and song to help teach opposites. I am happy, not sad, that I got to review and play with this app.
Heather Hetler is a happy and excited speech-language pathologist in an elementary school. She is also a happy and excited (though often tired) mother to three kids (11, 8, and 5), and is happy and excited to not be sad and bored with this book app. smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.