by JoAnn Giannobile
SUBJECT AREA: Scanning/Switch Training
PUBLISHER: Soft Touch/KidTECH
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Lower functioning students, students with multiple disabilities
and their friends.
REQUIRED HARDWARE: Macintosh LCIII or faster, 8 MB of RAM, 13" color
monitor, and 14 MB of hard drive space. External speakers are recommended.
A Windows version is available.
ACCESS OPTIONS: Single switch, TouchWindow, Intellikeys, Key Largo (with
Ke:nx), mouse or mouse emulation device.
EDUCATIONAL GOALS: To teach cause and effect, scanning, and color recognition,
and to increase visual and auditory memory.
DESCRIPTION: Three games with three levels of difficulty provide entertainment
and learning experiences for young children of all ability levels. Built-in,
adjustable scanning capabilities provide training, as well as access, for
children who cannot use the conventional mouse.
Easy Level: In "The Shell Game," one of three turtles steals a
tomato or cucumber. The turtles shift positions and snap their shells closed.
Visual and auditory cues can be used to help students remember which turtle
has the veggie. The responses are untimed and there is instant feedback
whether the selection made was correct or incorrect. If a wrong answer is
selected a turtle responds, "Uh-uh-uh, not me!" and then disappears,
leaving only two more choices. There is always an opportunity for success.
If only one shell remains, when the child selects it, the turtle admits
to having the veggie and quickly eats it. Scoring is based on completed
games, not on the number of correct responses.
Medium Level: At "The Pond" there are six turtles and a
number of other creatures in a pond scene. A tomato bounces around the
screen and eventually disappears into a hole or the pond or behind a bush.
The child has to remember where it went. Clues are optional. If the child
chooses incorrectly and picks the wrong spot, one of the characters on screen
will perform an animated routine but show that they do not have the tomato.
(My favorite is the happy little fish who leaps and dances to classical
music.) When the correct choice is made, a turtle will emerge from the
spot and gulp down the tomato. Points at this level are also based on
Hard Level: The "Tomato Dump" has two games. The first
game involves 24 turtles colored red, yellow, blue, orange, green, and purple.
At the easiest of three levels, the child is asked to pick the correct
turtle while being shown three clues, a picture of the colored turtle, the
word for the color, and an appropriately colored oval surrounding the clues.
The next two levels eliminate the color clues leaving only the word as
The second game in this level is called "Find My Song."
The six colored turtles each have a tune. The student must match the tune
to the turtle. As incorrect selections are made, the turtle disappears
so eventually only one turtle remains. This way, even a beginner can enjoy
Scoring at the hard level is more competetive. It is based on correct
STRENGTHS: Untimed responses, instant feedback, large and clear graphics,
cute voices, sound effects and entertaining music are all notable strengths.
I love the "splats" and "klunks," the sound of the
crickets at the pond and the turtle who has the tomato saying, "A-yup,
I have the tomato" and then noisily gulping it down. Scanning speeds
can be adjusted for all levels.
WEAKNESSES: In "The Pond" incorrect responses result in cute
characters performing entertaining animations. This may be rewarding in
itself and distract the child from trying to get the correct answer.
SUMMARY: This simple program effectively teaches switch use and early scanning.
Three levels of difficulty act as an equalizer to insure that children
with multiple disabilities can interact successfully with their non-disabled
JoAnn Giannobile is a graduate student in the Special Education Department
at Trenton State College.
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