Ballyland Stay Still Squeaky App: Following Directions and Independence

Students giggle as Squeaky rolls in the sand, slides through the mud, plays in paint and more! How dirty can Squeaky get? Stay Still Squeaky is a cute auditory story that young kids love! This engaging app is designed for young children with visual impairments who are being introduced to an iPad. Students only need to be able to tap the screen and swipe left to interact with the story; the Bonus Game also requires dragging and holding a finger on the screen.

In addition to building simple tech skills and developing a love for stories, Stay Still Squeaky can be used to teach a variety of critical educational skills.

Following Directions

Young students with visual impairments often fall into two categories: those who need prompts every step of the way and those who have hands all everywhere without waiting for directions. How can our teaching methods encourage student independence?

Independence vs. learned helplessness

So many students who are visually impaired require individual prompts every step of the way. With 1:1 instruction, it is easy for educators/family members to fall into the trap of prompting each and every step. Students learn to depend on prompts - even when they know the next step - and may 'tune out' in group/classroom settings. Learned helplessness vs. Independence - it's all about the instructions! Instead of using specific prompts, replace the detailed prompt with one word or phrase. Example: In the Stay Still Squeaky app, students are primed that when they hear "now", to tap the screen and something will happen. When a bell is heard, swipe left to turn the page. Students quickly learn what the prompt means and to independently do that action. Since the prompt is generated by the game and not a person, students tend to respond quickly; with a teacher's prompt, some students may try to manipulate the situation. 

Note: The student does need to be able to process what the prompt means and the student should be able to physically perform the desired gesture - or in the process of learning the desired gesture - in order to independently play Stay Still Squeaky.

Listening to Directions

The second type of student is the student who rushes to do things without first listening - and comprehending - the instructions. This student loves to have his/her hands on the materials with no knowledge of the expected activity. When the activity is an iPad game, the student is randomly tapping or banging on the screen before listening to directions. With Stay Still Squeaky, if the student taps on the screen nothing will happen until after the command (the word "now" or the bell sound) is given. Random taps or banging are not fulfilling, as nothing happens! The student quickly learns that he/she cannot rush through the story by tapping the screen - he/she must listen and wait for the prompt. I'm absolutely amazed at how fast a student learns to listen, interact appropriately, and become independent with a simple app like Stay Still Squeaky! 

Note: All of the Ballyland apps are designed in this manner - students cannot interact with the app until after the directions are given and prompts are a word or sound.

Stay Still Squeaky Directions

  1. To Turn a page, swipe left.
  2. When you hear the bell, turn the page.
  3. When you hear 'now', tap the screen.
  4. To go to the bonus game, double tap the screen.
  5. To return to the start page: double tap the button in the bottom right corner.

Stay Still Squeaky Accessibility

Stay Still Squeaky is ideal for students with low vision and/or CVI with it's simple images and uncluttered backgrounds. The app is self-voicing and fully accessible; VoiceOver is not needed and should be turned off.

Bonus Game

Students are given three items to be selected in order. (Example: ice cream, sand and mud.) The screen is 4X4 grid without images; the student should drag his finger slowly around the screen until he finds an item. Each item is announced and has an associated sound used in both the story and the game. If the item is the desired first item in the sequence (in this case ice cream) the student should hold his finger on the item as the game counts down from 3. The student then continues to drag his finger to find the second item and hold for the count down. Repeat for the third item. There are five routes in the Bonus Game; each route is timed and a final timed score is given at the end of the game.

The Bonus Game is designed to help students practice sequencing skills. Students should remember the three items and the order of these items. While students can randomly drag around the screen and hope to find the items, it is more efficient if students use a more systematic search pattern, which can be similar to reading across a line of print or braille. Start in the upper left corner and drag in a straight line to the right. Go back to the left edge of the iPad, move down and drag to the right again. Some students may benefit from placing the left index finger on the left edge of the iPad (off the screen) at the start of the row as the student drags his right index finger across the row. The Bonus Game can also be used to teach foundational skills including spatial concepts, dragging in a straight line, mental mapping, and remembering where previously found items are found. 

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