Leo’s Pad is a relatively new app for preschoolers created by Kidaptive and designed by Stanford University featuring interactive and animated appisodes of adventures in science. Leo’s Pad Appisode 1 (free; iPad) has been available since mid December with Leo’s Pad 2 debut January 10, 2013 in iTunes.
I was first made aware of Leo’s Pad just recently by a special education teacher who has a preschool daughter who reported she was highly engaged by this app. Reviewing the Leo’s Pad Appisode 1 and 2 does show this app to be a very engaging and interactive app.
Leo’s Pad curriculum concepts include 7 categories:
- Control Yourself (Emotional Control, Executive Function, Motor Control, Patience)
- Figure Stuff Out (Representation, Spatial Reasoning, Planning, Structure of the World, Relationships)
- Be Creative (Creative Uses, Self Expression, Idea Generation)
- Gather Necessary Knowledge (Colors & Shapes, Mathematics, Positional Language, Reading and Language, Wellness)
- Love Learning (Practice, Perseverance, Approach to Learning)
- Acquire Physical Routines (Movement Mastery, Space Mastery, Task Mastery)
- Interact with Others (Back and Forth, Boundaries, Communicating, Reading Others)
Categories support 21st century learning goals as noted in the curriculum listed featuring the sub topic goal areas. The app presents like a Pixar interactive story with animation, characters talking, giving directions, moving and interacting within the scenes with the activities. In Leo’s Pad 1 there are 13 different story scenes with activities featuring tracing and putting pieces of a telescope together, counting and taking away, sorting patterns and identifying numbers while tilting the iPad towards the correct number of objects on the screen. Here are a few screen shots of some Leo’s Pad 1 spatial reasoning activities involving putting together a telescope:
After completing scene activities, you can go back to the scenes and interact with them again. Repeating a scene increases the level of difficulty of the activity if the user has successfully completed the entire activity.
Leo’s Pad 2 has 9 different scenes providing a combination of activities that support the defined curriculum goals. Here are a few of the screen shots of the new Leo’s Pad 2 visual motor, matching and sorting activities which increases in difficulty when going through the complete story another time:
The app provided a few activities suited to students serviced by OT such as tracing, color and pattern sorting, shape matching/ parquetry, however the tasks appeared to be more advanced than what most special needs preschools might work on. The visual motor task of tracing parts of a rocket ship (above picture on left) involve shapes with curves and angles, a more difficult visual motor skill. Following directions and knowledge of right and left concepts were also part of the activities in Leo Pad, skills well above those of most special needs preschoolers I have worked with. These activities could be appropriate children with typically acquired developmental skills with more abstract spatial reasoning skills.
Leo’s Pad activities requires strong listening and receptive language skills as part of the curriculum goals, but which may be frustrating to students with challenges in these areas. Again, as projected for preschool children, those with language, motor or cognitive difficulties may need support when engaging in the activities. The activities would seem to be best suited to kindergarten or primary students who have the receptive language skills to support engagement and understanding of tasks requested.
Leo’s Pad provides wonderful, engaging activities for typical preschool to kindergarten aged students. At this time limited options for differentiation are available in Leo’s Pad apps to make any changes or to add or remove additional prompts (visual, textual or repeated audio) within the activities or provide different levels of the tasks. Within the school setting use by teachers or therapists require using it with a variety of students. Lack of enlisting numerous students at this time or resetting the activity to the beginning level limits use with multiple students. Including the ability to enroll multiple users would make this app more useable in a school setting.
Projected for Leo’s Pad apps is a parent dashboard that will collect data on the users progress. This sounds to be a great addition to the app to monitor progress in the goal areas projected within the app. At this time home use by individual users seems to be what it is best suited for. Suggesting this app for home programming for students who have skills that support successful participation would be appropriate or providing individual support by an adult when using the app for those that are engaged but may have difficulty with tasks presented. With Leo’s Pad 1 currently free, I suggest checking this app out to trial with your child or students for it’s engaging and interactive storylike format.