Review by Dana Villamagna, Common Sense Education | Updated December 2012
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Social Adventures

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Expert-approved activities nurture students' social skills

Common Sense says
Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
K-3 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: Simple daily activities and short lessons provide powerful tools to help kids become more socially adept.

Cons: An adult facilitator must take the lead on almost all portions of this app.

Bottom Line: A treasure chest of social-skills-building activities created by speech and language pros that are worth the high price and need for facilitation.

Most of this app requires the initiation and guidance of an adult facilitator and would work best with small groups working in short bursts through some activities. Although it's ideal for students with pronounced social difficulties -- and especially those with special needs -- it could be a good supplement to any classroom that values SEL. On their own, students could also explore the Visuals tab, which includes more than 10 cartoon images. As they view simple explanations of how some common social interactions commonly play out, students can learn vocabulary for how to handle similar real-life situations. For example, the cartoon "Teachers Tell, Friends Ask" shows kids that while a teacher can be expected to give direct orders in a classroom ("Line up, kids!"), kids should ask, not order, their friends to do things ("Can I go first?" says one friend to another. "Sure," the second replies.)

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Social Adventures is an illustrated guidebook in app form, providing teachers and parents with a tidy, powerhouse package to help kids learn positive social behavior. The app contains activities, games, and cartoon descriptions of social situations based mainly on “social catch phrases” that kids can learn to better interact with others. Created by a group of trained therapists and educators, the app focuses on seven skill areas: initiating social contact; maintaining conversations; advocating and compromising; getting regulated; interpreting non-verbal skills; negotiating space; and experiencing humor. While applicable to all kids, these resources will be especially useful to kids with special needs and/or autism.

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Social emotional learning (SEL) is crucial for academic and life success, but it’s rarely in the curriculum. Most kids struggle in some way socially, and for some, these issues can be particularly challenging and inhibit academic performance. More socially acclimated kids will benefit from activities focused on the one or two skill areas where they need some extra coaching. For kids with more profound social challenges, teachers may want to utilize the entire well-organized, expert-created eight-week program.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

The level of student engagement relies heavily on the teacher or parent facilitating the app's activities.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

More than 40 activities, cartoons, or games help students learn and practice seven key social skills with the help of a facilitator and peers.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

A clear, brief instruction page provides an overview of the app's functionality. It's helpful that the developers created an eight-week program, but it's not essential to follow it.


Common Sense Reviewer
Dana Villamagna Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

3
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Featured review by
Lindsay F. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Parkview Elementary School
Fort Worth, TX
3
More for adults than for youth

As a classroom teacher, I wouldn't use this for intervention with my special needs or autism spectrum students because I feel that the entire app is too rigid in the structure - it's too difficult to pull out one activity to address a specific area without pre-teaching the related activities. I think it could be great for special needs counselors, speech and occupational therapists, etc. who do weekly pull outs.
I look for apps that have a wider audience base and greater application throughout the curriculum. If you are seeking an app that is narrow in scope and very directed toward lower elementary - this one's for you. If you are seeking something more flexible - it's not.
I don't think that the price reflects the value.

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