Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This Blog

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Mo Willems writes some of my favorite children’s books so when I heard that there was an app featuring the Pigeon from his books, I had to test it out.  What I love most about this app is that I have just as much fun playing it as the kids do.  There are some that are totally entertaining for them but painful for the grownups who have to play with them.  Definitely not the case with Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App.  This app is not cheap ($5.99) but worth every penny you spend on it.  
This game is a hit at the gym with my older preschoolers and younger school age kids and I would recommend it for kids between the ages of 3 and 8 years old.  There are three modes of play so you can increase the challenge as they become used to the game and the expectations.  
The first mode of play (Egg) is best for the little pigeons in your life.  Mo Willems has a few stories that he has read and they come to life.  For any kid who is familiar with any of the pigeon stories, they truly love seeing their little friend come to life.  
The second mode (Chick)which is better for younger children and children who may have difficulty with expressive language requires a child to help narrate a story by choosing answers provided.  A child goes through and answers a series of questions with 3 choices for each question.  What’s great about it is that there are pictures to choose from so a child who has difficulty with auditory processing can answer the questions by relying on the visual cues presented to them.  Once all those questions are answered, the story is read back to you.  

The third mode of play (Big Pigeon) is for children who can answer questions more independently.  In this part of the game, children have to answer questions, without any visual cues.  Best part, they answer into the iPad speaker so their voice is recorded.  When the story is complete, it is read back to them with their answers mixed in there.  I can’t tell you how much the kids love this part of the game.  In some ways, it is like a Mad Lib game because you don’t know how your answers will be used in the story until you hear it read back to you.  The laughs that I have heard from these stories is worth every cent I spent on this app.

The last feature I love about the game is that you can work on following directions and graphomotor skills in the Draw the Pigeon portion of the app.  Mo Willems himself takes you through a step by step guide of drawing the famous pigeon.  The completed picture drawn by your child is then incorporated into the stories that are read back to you.  The kids get such a kick out of seeing the picture of the pigeon (or whatever else they may have decided to draw) as their story is read back to them.

There are so many goals that can be addressed with Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App.  And they can be done in a fun way so the kids don’t even realize that they are working.  I will list a few below.

Improve Attention/Receptive Language-a child must listen to the questions being asked and come up with appropriate answers.  I am all for allowing a child to be silly but if I know that they present with processing difficulties, I want to be sure that I know they are listening and paying attention to the questions asked of them.  If they insist on being silly, I will tell them that they have to answer 3 questions appropriately and then can answer the next one however they want.

Improve Modulation/Regulation-this can be worked on by making sure a child answers questions in a slow and clear voice.  I have observed some of my kids getting so excited that they rush through the answers and then they have to re-do their answer.  If the iPad doesn’t get your answer, they will make you repeat it until they do.  I try and explain this to them before they begin answering the questions, but sometimes they have to learn by trial and error.

Improve Upper Extremity Strength-like with many of the apps and games I have spoken about on this blog, I am a big fan of having children play them while they are lying on their belly in a net swing.  So many of the kids I work with have decreased upper body strength and resist activities that work on this.  With motivating apps and games, they can be so motivated and focusing so much that they don’t even realize their bodies are getting tired!  That’s a win-win situation, right??

Improve Grasping Skills-when playing with the drawing portion of the app, encourage your child to draw with a stylus.  This will allow them to work on developing a proper grasp.  For some kids, they also have more control and ability to follow the directions when using something that resembles a writing instrument and not their fingers.

Improve Social Skills-I have used this with a group of children with great success.  This app is a perfect opportunity to work on having children take turns, be flexible when a peer might answer a question differently then them and being part of a group in order to accomplish a goal.  This might sound easy, but so many of the children I work with in group settings have a difficult time giving up control  and letting everyone have a say in something.  Be sure to explain the rules and expectation and what the consequences of not following them are.  I find that that helps the whole thing go much smoother for everyone involved.

I have a feeling that you will all become fans of this app.  And if you weren’t a fan of Mo Willems before this, you most certainly will be after.  Like I have already mentioned, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App is great for the whole family.  You will have fun playing it together and I promise you that you will spend a lot of time laughing as you do.

If you have any questions or want to tell me your favorite part of this app, send me a note.  I am just a click away and would love to hear your success stories while working with your kids.  Do you have another occupational therapy or speech goal that can be met that you would like to share.  I love learning from all of you out there and look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading!

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