by Karen Head, MS, CCC-SLP
So yesterday, we had one of those social group meetings where one of the new 6-year old boys simply could not be coaxed away from his mom and into the group. Enter…iPad. That brought out a smile, but no movement toward the other kids. When asked what apps he liked to play, he responded, “Angry Birds.” Great…I thought…how am I ever going to use Angry Birds to get something social going? Then I had the idea to use the app as reward. I told the boys that they could take a turn with the app after they took a turn with a tried and true “getting to know your friends activity” we like to call If You Like… So I got out a big box of those colored cardboard building blocks, set one on the ground, and started in with “If you like…ice cream” put a block on the tower, and then you can have one turn with Angry Birds. “If you like…dragons” put a block on the tower and take a turn with the app…and so on.
It worked!! Soon everyone was taking turns with blocks while learning about each other, taking a turns with the app, and passing the app along to a friend (a remarkable feat in itself). By the time the tower was built so high it was about to fall down, our brilliant OT, Alicia, noticed that the tower was all red with a green block in the middle, just like the green pig in the app (one of those wonderful accidents). Alicia pointed this out to the kids and said, “let’s play real-life angry birds. These blue blocks can be the birds and the green block will be the pig! We can try to get the pig by throwing the blue blocks at the tower” Soon the iPad was forgotten. Building towers with “pigs” inside and throwing blocks to knock them down became the focus. In fact, for the the next several minutes, we all happily played If You Like…, building and throwing and… pointing out how much this group of boys had in common in addition to Angry Birds.
Moral of the story: Don’t judge an app by its stated purpose.
by Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP