Eye Spy the Difference

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I’m always downloading new apps.  It’s just something I love to do and expose the kids I work with to.  At least once a week, I go onto the App Store and see if anything wonderful catches my eye.  This past week, I discovered an awesome app, Toonia Differences.  It reminded me of this game that my sister Katie and I first started playing at a local bar ages and ages ago, Photo Hunt.  The point of the game was simple (yet totally stressful):  look at the same picture side by side and find what is different.  When it became available as an app, I spent countless hours playing it and got such satisfaction from beating a friend or a previous score.

Toonia Differences is the cutest “spot the difference” game for kids that I have seen.  Very much like the game I described above, the object of the game is to look at the side by side picture and notice the 8 things that are different.  Some are obvious at first glance and other are much trickier to spot.  I first tried this game with my daughter who turned 5 in March.  After explaining the rules of the game, she caught on quickly but required prompting from me to only touch one of the images that were different….her initial instinct was to hit the images on both pictures which caused her time to increase which then lead to frustration.  This game requires a child to really focus and attend to what is on the screen.  The app uses simple graphics and colors with quiet/organizing music playing in the background.  Since there are so many details in each picture, the differences can change over and over again so the kids don’t get bored or memorize the things that are different.  Kids of all ages are loving this game and I really like that you can change your expectations for each child you are working with based on their level of functioning.  For younger kids, you may have to provide them with some subtle hints to get them to find the differences.  For the older kids, you can have the kids explain what they notice before touching the screen.  If you are working on handwriting skills, you can have them write down what they notice…make sure they go into detail and write full sentences!

This app works on the following occupational therapy goals:
Improve Visual Perceptual Skills-there are so many visual skills that can be worked on with this game.  Visual scanning, visual tracking, visual attention…I could go on and on.  The great thing about it is that the pictures are cute and the kids really like them. If you want to work on improving eye-hand coordination, you can have the child play the game while using a stylus.
Improve Language Skills-clearly, speech and language isn’t my area of expertise, but I can’t help but notice how much a speech therapist could work on improving language skills using this app.  For my older kids, I have been having them describe the differences in the pictures before they can touch the screen.  This sounds easy, but so many of my older kids struggle with this task…they recognize what is different, but putting it into words is tricky for them.
Improve Modulation/Regulation Skills-for so many of the kids that I have tried this game with, their instinct is to just start tapping away and hoping that they find the differences by luck.  They have needed prompting from me to be mindful and attentive to what they are looking at, making sure that they are really finding the images that are different.  I try not to focus on the fact that there is a timer tracking their work (and thankfully, very few of the kids I have played this with have noticed that) because once they realize that they were being timed, they became much more impulsive and less focused.
Improve Social Skills-this is an ideal app for improving social skills and can easily be done in a group of two or three kids.  You can work on taking turns finding the differences.  You can also have the kids work together to create stories about what is happening in the pictures.

Toonia Differences is available in the app store and the first 5 pictures are free.  There are a variety of sets available via in-app purchases for $2.99 or their super pack (45 pictures) for $6.99.  For the amount of time you can spend on this game and all the skills that can be focused on, I think it is totally worth splurging on the whole collection.

If you wanted to do something fun with your kids, you can make your own Spot the Difference game using your own pictures.  One thing you can do is take pictures of different places in a child’s life…..their bedroom, their classroom, etc..  Take the pictures on different days so the environments look different.  Print the pictures out and put them side by side and see if they can find all the things that are different.  This could be a really fun project to do with a social skills group….have each kid bring in a few different sets of pictures from their house and put together a book.

Finding a good app is still one of my favorite things.  Sharing those finds with my readers is another one of my favorite things!  This is a great app that parents can do with their kids while being able to work on occupational therapy goals in a fun way.  Kids can play it with their friends or siblings.  Do you have any great new apps that you have discovered lately?  As the end of the school year approaches, I would love to be able to put together a list of fun and educational apps that parents can do with their children over the summer.  Please share your favorite apps with me…I’m just a click away and love hearing from you all.

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