Pictagrid is the latest Android software from IT Nilsson. It is quite an interesting approach to word puzzles. As with many of their previous products, Pictagrid’s base is the word maze. You are to find different words within this maze. Now why release yet another word puzzle game? There are thousands of them in the Android market.
Well IT Nilssons answer is that it is not just a word game. It is a learning tool in disguise. Again there is that connection to dyslexia. It is an experimental game of course, without any external fundings, that takes yet another step towards getting the dyslectic brain grasp more about how words are created and associated. Pictagrid is created from images. An image forms the background of the game and you are to find the spelling of multiple smaller images located at the side.
Scientists believe that persons with dyslexia does not hear the word inside their heads when seeing the word. In Pictagrid the image, a text to speech-machine (the Android shipped one) reading the word out loud and the break-up of the word into multiple symbols in the maze are combined to one. IT Nilsson hopes that the combination of all three of them will help the brain to create the missing mappings between sound and spelling. I’m not sure whether it will work though but it is a good thought.
Included in this game are two downloads. One with vegetables and another with fruits. The fruits and vegetables all come in 11 languages and one can randomize the game so it is quite large for a free game. There is also another download called Animals but it is for members only and when following the links to the end I end up in another game from IT Nilsson called ArtWords Word Search. According to IT Nilsson the games from Pictagrid is still not in ArtWords as of version 1.2.6 but they will come when another version has been released.
My conclusion however is that the game is quite good for a free game. It is also very easy compared to other word mazes. (It actually shows the starting location of the word when clicking its image. But you still have to figure out the direction.) I just love the art and I feel good when locating the words so quickly. It is a feelgood game. If I could wish for more it is to have a better pronunciation of some words. But hey Google, throw some money at it please!
I have tried the android application Artwords Designer Free by I.T. Nilsson available for tablets. It claims to be the perfect tool for persons with dyslexia wanting to train reading skills.
There is certainly a need for many tools that can help training persons with dyslexia. Most tools just help them not-to-need-reading but in the long run knowing how to read is much better. Scientists have found out that it takes much longer for the dyslectic brain to learn reading so the more training one could get the better. Also there is no inner voice when reading.
Learning to read is a matter of:
Seeing the lines shaping individual letters
Discover letter combinations that form sounds
Mapping sounds to form a word
Identify the word corresponding notion of the real object
I know that dyslectics are usually very good at pattern recognition. For instance NASA employs many persons with dyslexia. They are good at detecting new stars in the huge pattern that form the universe. The No inner voice-problem and pattern recognition ability lead me to believe that AWDF might be an optimal game for dyslectics.
In AWDF you design the word maze yourself so you need someone else to help you in-case you have dyslexia. You provide the spelling of certain words that you would like your student to be able to find and spell, supply an image for the background and then the application will run the word puzzle game for you.
When my student plays my game he examines the puzzle trying to find the words. One good thing about the game is that it uses Text-to-Speech. So my student just clicks a word to hear the word read out loud. Also when he drags over letters in the maze the device will attempt to pronounce the word. Probably my dyslectic student will get lots of pronunciation training this way. At least it is my hope that he learns spelling a little faster.
The trick as I see it is to design the games interestingly enough for my student to willingly embrace the task. Will it be possible in this era of easier Shoot-Em-Up games? I as a teacher will need to find an interest in the puzzle myself and if possible make it a social game where my student can help finding the words.
Well try it out yourself. It is financed by ads but there is also another version without ads. I wish there was some way of sharing the designed games though. It would have been neat.
I just read a good book available in Swedish called just that (“Knäck Koden”, by JB Public Relations). It describes different ways children and teachers can play with the language. The earlier one starts playing the better.
Some brains are just different when it comes to reading and writing texts. Some people can write but they cannot read what they just wrote. Others can read but when they read – the words come in a different order than in the text. Yet others can hear read out loud text but they don’t hear the words just a bunch of sounds.
It is amazing how many different things someone needs to learn just to be able to read. One of the most basic is the mapping of a symbol to a sound.
The book is very optimistic and contain several nice interviews with dyslectics in all ages as well as great teacher tip on what they have found working.
But most of all it seems the brain needs more time and practice. The learning must take place in a relaxed way.
There are some very neat smart phone apps for the dyslectics. Personally I have tried the Prizmo tool for iPad. It works very good for printed texts. You just take a photo of a page and it will be read out loud for you. The iPad with the better camera is recommended since OCR reading needs good pictures to work.
Well what about my friend? My friend who has dyslexia can hardly read even though he now is thirteen years. Instead he looks at pictures and is a regular user of youtube. Simpson is one of his favorite TV-shows. Well he got hold of the Prizmo app and was eager to try it out. He brought one of his favorite comics books Herman Hedning http://www.hermanhedning.com and tried it on one of the text bubbles. Sadly it did not work. We tried on several text bubbles but none worked. I tried the advanced white balancing options a.s.o. but to no avail. Amazing because the text bubbles in Herman Hedning are so nicely written that they look like a font.
Surely there must be something the Prizmo developers can do so that dyslectics can read comic books as well?