Ballyland Code 3: Pick Up

For basic game play and information, view the first two posts on the previous Ballyland Code apps:

Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello

Ballyland Code 2: Give Rotor

The three Ballyland Code apps are designed to introduce young students to coding logic. These apps introduce coding concepts and problem solving and also improve tech skills and orientation and mobility skills. These apps should be played in order, as Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello begins with an interactive tutorial before the games. Ballyland Code 1 and Code 2 both have obstacles that need to be avoided while Ballyland Code 3: Pick Up has items that need to found and picked up.

All three of the apps are formatted the same, using a 3x3 grid with Wheelie starting in the top left corner. The game announces the grid size and is carefully crafted to use the same language as a standard screen reader to announce the rows and columns. Learning to create mental maps and to navigate digital grids are critical tech skills for students who rely on a screen reader. These same mental mapping skills are used by students who are visually impaired when navigating routes in their schools and communities.

Screenshot of Code 3: 3x3 grid with Wheelie in top left, coin, frog and flower in other squares.

The routes in Ballyland Code 3 are progressively longer and more challenging, especially as students are encouraged to navigate the quickest route. The app contains a fun story and intriguing sounds, making it a sure hit with students! 3D printer files are available for the accompanying 3D printed manipulatives. Manipulatives significantly improve a student's ability to bridge the gap between traditional tactile grids to digital grids and these tactiles help students to build strong mental maps and to truly understand spatial relationships.

As with the first two Ballyland coding apps, the student should first explore the screen by dragging his finger around the screen - paying attention to the locations of the coin, flower and frog. The student should use the row and column numbers to develop a mental map of the grid and where these items are located on the grid. Use manipulatives (3D printed materials or create your own tactile grid and objects) to create a tactile version of the grid. By Code 3, the student should be able to quickly locate the items on the screen and then quickly place the tactile manipulatives in the correct locations. Most students are then able to mentally determine the steps to navigate between each item. If necessary, the student can double check his mental route using either the manipulatives or the digital grid. Note: The manipulatives are designed to bridge the gap between traditional tactile materials and digital materials - as soon as the student has the concept, he should be weaned off the tactile materials so that he can increase his mental maps!

  • Encourage the student to create the entire route without going back to check each step or each series of steps.
  • Encourage the student to work independently - without you providing prompts or hints. If necessary, walk away while the student is working! This is a great game to teach the student to be more independent, as he has already completely similar activities with the first two coding games.
  • Encourage the student to increase his speed while playing the games: repeat the game and increase the speed!

This is one game - when it is good - if the student memorizes the layout of the three games in each app! Memorizing means that the student has built a solid mental map - especially if he remembers the layout a week or a month later. After all, the student will learn real school or community routes that he needs to retain, especially if he does not routinely run those routes on a daily or weekly basis!

Accessibility

Ballyland games are designed for iPad beginners. The app is not used with VoiceOver but is fully accessible with the self-voicing mode turned on. Players who rely on auditory need to turn Self-Voicing ON in order to access the Main Menu.

 

Comments

Posted by Diane BraunerMay 29, 2019

Food for Thought:

The developer shared her perspective about the statement, “Encourage the student to create the entire route without going back to check each step or each series of steps.” She stated that, "Good coding practice is to go back and check each step, because if you end up with a long string of code, and then find it doesn’t work, you need to go through it all to find the bug. I agree that the coding in these apps is simple and short enough to allow for some liberty with this, but for the future, it may be good to teach the students this as best practice already."

Good point! I have worked with many braille students who braille a letter, check the letter, braille the next letter, check that letter or who wait for confirmation before brailling the letter. However, there are also students who blast through assignments with little thought about accuracy. I have also had O&M students who stop and explore every crack in the sidewalk and other students who keep barreling ahead even when they are obviously wandering in the weeds. Computer science students tend to be more precise and analytical. As TVIs, we may use an activity for several different purposes depending on a student's strengths and weaknesses and the desired goal at the specific time. It is good to keep in mind that coding requires accuracy - preferably each step of the way!