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SOFTWARE FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS




Game house is a software package, designed especially about computer education of children with special needs. It is games based. These games are used as for mastering computer work skills, as for gaining school knowledge. Comenius Logo environment is used for the software development.

Comenius Logo is a rich multimedia environment for combining graphics, sound, animation and video. The communication uses Bulgarian language, which makes Comenius Logo quite suitable for children education. This environment is approved for school aids with protocol 14/17.09.1998 by The Ministry of Education and is used for computer education in common elementary school. It is not pretentious to software and hardware resources, works with Windows 3., 95, 98, 2000, NT and XP. Comenius Logo offers uniform tools, which makes it attractive and easy.

The Game house software package is designed to work in two ways. You could start each application on o.'s own inside Comenius Logo environment. The other way is to start the package thus Comenius Logo remains hidden for the user. The package resources are copyright. The used resources are precisely selected by logopaedia and psychology specialists and include well known for children objects.

SOFTWARE


The Game House is a software package with educational games, specially designed for children with cerebral palsy. Though, it is applicable to children with other disabilities. The software has two main functions introduction to computers, managing with mouse and keyboard, and gaining school knowledge. The product is games based, because of the main users specific physical and age characteristics. The whole action is inside the Game House, where games are grouped by different areas. A different assisting hero is responsible for each area. He has its own room and assistants in charge of separate games.

The main actors in the house are Mr. Mouse, Mrs. Book, Mr. Abacus, and Mr. Pencil.


The Game House software package is developed by Department of IT team (Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski) and logopaedia and psychology specialists from the St. Sofia hospital, with the cooperation of ZNANIE Association - Sofia.

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MR. MOUSES ROOM

Games for manipulating the mouse are collected in this room. These are the games, with which usually starts computer education of children, because they include gaining skills for working with computer systems. There are four main movements when manipulating the mouse:

The games in this room are designed exactly for learning and mastering these movements. There are three games "Silhouettes", "Shadows" and "Sounds". Except skills for manipulating the mouse, these games also train visual and hearing perceptions of the children. They develop the language and speech, the abstract-logical way of thinking, the ability to compare and differ colorful objects, shadows and their names too.

SILHOUETTES

The game "Silhouettes" is designed to train the free movement of the mouse. It contains three levels.
In the first level on random screen places appears a yellow silhouette. The mouse pointer, which has the same form, goes in the center of the screen. The user has to move the mouse over the silhouette, which stays still, and to cover it. When he succeeds, the silhouette becomes a colorful picture, and automatically a new combination loads on the screen. The second level situation is the same, but with several silhouettes at once loaded.
In the third level the mouse takes its own form and an animated picture is loaded on the screen. The user has to move the mouse pointer to the picture. When he succeeds the animation begins.
It is possible to make a custom setup, considering number of objects on the screen in the first two levels, and in the third level the size of the mouse pointer could be changed.

SHADOWS

The "Shadows" game consists of three levels and it aims to train clicking with mouse buttons and dragging an object with pressed mouse button. On each level the user has to find out the right accordance between the screen-loaded colorful pictures and shadows. Theres one shadow and several colorful pictures loaded on the screen in the first level the user has to find the right picture, corresponding to the shadow. The second level shows a colorful picture and several shadows, so the user has to define the correct shadow. In the third level there are equal number of colorful pictures and shadows and the user must connect them by dragging.
The game allows custom setup, considering number of objects loaded on the screen, to be made.

SOUNDS

The " Sounds" game has three levels and is used for training movements such as mouse button click and dragging an object with pressed mouse button.
In all of the levels the user has to connect pictures on the screen with the right words he hears. There are several pictures and just one sound, corresponding to one of them in the first level. In the second level the sounds are more, but the picture is one the user has to drag the right sound to the picture. In the third level there are equal number of pictures and sounds to be connected. Custom setup for the number of objects could be made in the game. Every sound is shown as a loudspeaker, and if pressed the sound is played.

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MRS. BOOKS ROOM

The games in this room are designed to train manipulating the mouse and keyboard. The stress is upon managing the symbol keyboard block. The main practical education tasks are finding and remembering the position of the letter keys from the keyboard. A graphical appearance of the letters is also presented and been learned, and meanwhile a connection between the letter and its corresponding sound is established (a written sign to the heard sound connection). Playing the games for entering a word with the keyboard and constructing a sentence from a number of given words helps learning the structure of words and the correct grammatical order of sentences.
These games help accomplishing the phonemic gnosis, abstract logical way of thinking, analyzing and synthesizing abilities.
The games in the room are
"Words", "Letters", "Missing Letters" and "Sentences".

WORDS

The "Words" game is designed to train manipulating the mouse working skills and mostly clicking with buttons and dragging an object with a pressed button. There are two groups, used in the game one of them consists of pictures and the other is containing pictures names. The user has to be literally knowledgeable to play the game. He sees the graphical appearance of words. The game reveals abstract-logical thinking and abilities to compare objects in order to find out the correct ones. The game consists of three levels and the purpose of all of them is to find the correspondence between the screen-loaded words and words. In the first level several pictures and just one suitable word are loaded on the screen. The user has to point the right picture for the loaded word. The situation in the second level is the opposite one picture and several words are loaded, and just one word answers to the picture. The purpose is to connect them. In the third level there are several pictures and several words on the screen, which have to be connected in the right order by dragging with the mouse. It is possible to make custom setup for the number of the objects to load.

LETTERS

The "Letters" game has four levels and aims to attain proficiency in working with the symbol keyboard block, and mostly to find out and remember the position of each letter. The main activity is to enter the first letter of an object. The task is once heard at the beginning of the game, but it could be played again after pressing the question mark in the upper right corner of the screen.
The information in the levels is different. In the first one a picture is been loaded on the screen and above is bee written its name. In the second one just a picture is shown on the screen. In the third level on screen appears a shadow of an object. In the last level a question mark appears on the screen, a word is been heard and the user has to enter its first letter.
The game improves the abstract logical thinking, analysis, and synthesis. The user sees the graphical appearance of words, the corresponding sounds and the connection between them.

MISSING LETTERS

The "Missing Letters" game is made of three levels and aims manipulating with the symbol keyboard block. The main task in all of the levels is to enter the missing letter in a word. The missing letter could be in any position in the word.
In the first level the first letter of the words is missing. In the second it is the last letter. In the third level a letter in from the middle ones could be missing. Except the word with a missing letter theres a contour of the object, corresponding to the word, is also loaded on the screen. If the user succeeds with entering the right letter, hes been given the possibility to color the picture.

SENTENCES

The "Sentences" game is designed to train working with the symbol keys of the keyboard. It also improves knowledge and skills for constructing grammatically correct sentences from a given number of words.
In the beginning of the game the user has to enter his name and at the end his results could be kept such as time of game start and finish, correct and wrong sentences.
The work screen of the game shows a picture and several words. Some of the words correspond to the picture. The user has to eliminate the unnecessary words, and from the rest to construct a grammatically correct sentence by entering it from the keyboard (the sentence should start with a capital letter and end with a full stop.). The loaded picture and level of difficulty could be changed (e.g. to construct simple sentences consisting of an subject and a verb, or more complex ones having other parts of the speechs).

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MR. ABACUSS ROOM

The games in this room are designed to reveal managing the number keyboard block. They improve the abstract-logical thinking, present the graphical appearance and the names of 1 to 9 numbers to the user. The games also develop the ability to count, form quantity concepts and idea for continuity and order. They help users understand and learn concepts such as greater and smaller.
The games, included here, are
"Numbers" and "Compare".

NUMBERS

The "Numbers" game consists of three levels and is designed to improve working with the digits keys of the keyboard. The main task of the game is to enter the correct digit, showing the number of the objects loaded on the screen.
In the first level there are some (random number between 1 and 9) identical pictures and the user has to enter the correct, corresponding to the number, digit. The pictures in the second level are different and the situation is similar. The user has to count them and enter the right number. In the third level there are several (between 1 and 9) pictures on the screen, some of which could be the same. The user must enter the number of a definite picture, whose name he hears.
The game presents the graphical appearance and the names of 1 to 9 digits, reveals abstract-logical thinking, ability to count, quantity concepts.

COMPARE

The "Compare" game is designed to form quantity concepts and mostly to understand the idea for more and less. It also improves working with the number keyboard block. The user has to compare two random numbers between 1 and 9. Each number is presented quantitatively by loading a suitable number of objects vertically (one above another). Thus the user could connect the number with the quantity it means. The names of the digits and the task are heard when objects appear on the screen (e.g. What is more from 5 and 2?). The numbers to compare and the question (more or less). The user has to enter the right digit from the keyboard. When he enters any digit, it appears on the screen and its name is heard. Thus the user could learn the graphical appearance of the digit and the quantity it means at the same time.
The game allows custom setup for the background color, font properties, the color of the appearing digits and the interval in which digits are compared (e.g. if the interval is determined from 2 to 5, the tasks of the game would be to compare all the digits between 2 and 5, including 2, 3, 4 and 5).
The game presents the user the graphical appearance of the digits from 1 to 9 and the names, corresponding to them. It reveals abstract-logical way of thinking, ability to count, forms quantitatively concepts.

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MR. PENCILS ROOM

The games in this room are designed to improve working with the mouse and the keyboard. They teach how colors and their names should be used. They also learn the users to work with a group of instruments for painting, drawing and coloring.
The games ar
"Colors" and "Paint".

COLORS

The "Colors" game is designed to present the main colors with their names. It consists of two levels. In the first level a palette of different colors and hues is loaded on the screen. In the middle of the palette appears a name of any present color. The user has to pick up the color, whose name he sees. In the second level the palette contains the names of colors instead, and in the middle of it appears one random color. The user has to point the name of the shown color. Except written the names of the colors could also be heard. This helps the user to associate the graphical image of the name with the phonetic appearance.
It is necessary the user to be able to read. There could be made custom setup in choosing colors to work.

PAINT

The "Paint" game is a small painting editor. A worktable with a picture to paint are loaded in the beginning of the game. There are instruments to paint too brushes, pencil, a dialogue box for choosing a color and its hues, a bucket for mixing new colors and hues. Except these instruments the user also has an album with the painted picture to look at.

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EDUCATION


The most common work scheme which educators should follow in the practical application of the software package Game House is mentioned in the table below. It is rather recommendable than obligatory, because education depends wholly on the individual characteristics of the child, illness degree, previous experience with computers and also whether working in groups or individually. All these factors are important when considering the education and define including or excluding some of the programs in the scheme.

Program: SILHOUETTES
Age group: 4 years old
Period of education: Until acquire the free movement of the mouse, but not more than 3 months
Educational aspect: Free movement with the mouse, pictures images recognizing
Psychological aspect: Comparing an object and a shadow, developing the attention line in each aspect

Program: SHADOWS
Age group: 4 years old
Period of education: Until acquire the one click with a button. Until acquire the dragging with a button pressed, but not more than 6 months
Educational aspect: Possibility for doing a simple logical operation
Psychological aspect: Developing an abstract logical thinking, analysis and synthesis

Program: SOUNDS
Age group: 4, 5 years
Period of education: Until acquire the one click with a button. Until acquire the dragging with a button pressed, but not more than 6 months
Educational aspect: Possibility for doing a simple logical operation
Psychological aspect: Developing an abstract logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis

Program: WORDS
Age group: Over 5 years
Period of education: Until acquire the one click with a button. Until acquire the dragging with a button pressed, but not more than 6 months
Educational aspect: Possibility for doing a logical operation
Psychological aspect: Developing an abstract logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis, learning the graphic image of the word

Program: LETTERS
Age group: Over 6 years
Period of education: Until learning letters positions on the keyboard. Until remembering letters and their graphical appearance
Educational aspect: To find out and remember letters positions on the keyboard. To learn the graphical appearance of letters
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis, learning the graphic image of the word

Program: MISSING LETTERS
Age group: Over 7 years
Period of education:Until learning letters positions on the keyboard. Until learning words spelling
Educational aspect: To find out and remember letters positions on the keyboard. To learn the graphical appearance of letters and words construction
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis, learning the graphic image of the word

Program: SENTENCES
Age group: Over 7 years
Period of education: Until learning grammar constructing of sentence
Educational aspect: To construct grammar correct sentences
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis, learning grammar constructing of sentence

Program: BALLOONS
Age group: Over 7 years
Period of education: Until learning grammar constructing of sentence
Educational aspect: To construct grammar correct sentences
Psychological aspect:Developing abstract-logical thinking, analysis and synthesis, development of the phonemic gnosis, learning grammar constructing of sentence

Program: NUMBERS
Age group: Over 6 years
Period of education: Until learning numbers positions on the keyboard. Until forming ability to count
Educational aspect: To learn number keys on the keyboard
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, quantities ideas and ideas of consecution and order

Program: COMPARE
Age group: Over 6 years
Period of education: Until learning numbers positions on the keyboard. Until forming ability to count and numbers arrange
Educational aspect: To learn number keys on the keyboard, making logical operation
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, quantities ideas and ideas of consecution and order, forming conceptions of bigger and smaller

Program: COLORS
Age group: 5, 6 years
Period of education: Until learning colors and their names
Educational aspect: To learn colors and its names. Practice free movement with the mouse and one click with a button.
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, forming conceptions of colors and accordance between colors and its names

Program: PAINT
Age group: 4, 5 years
Period of education: To learn instruments for painting and take on abilities to compose colors
Educational aspect: Skills to working with instruments, coloring models, composing colors
Psychological aspect: Developing abstract-logical thinking, forming conceptions of colors, coloring models choosing suitable colors and nuances, composing colors

Computer education of children with cerebral palsy, with software package Game house, is combined with some games from software package "ToolKid". This package is designed for computer education in primary school. More often used games from this package are: "Karlson", "Cat", " Silhouette " (to practice free movement with the mouse), "Banica", "Sounds" (to acquire one click with a mouse button), " Christmas", "Spring" (to practice dragging with a pressed mouse button), "Eater" (to acquire working with navigations keys from the keyboard), "Frogs" (numbers order), "Conveyor", "Clouds", "Rebus" (working with letters keys from the keyboard, reading and writing), "Symmetry", "Paint", "Merlin" (painting, coloring, constructing objects).

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PUBLICATIONS


  1. 2001 Ivanov I., Zafirova T., Jordanova N., (2001) paper On mice and handicapped children, proceedings, Eurologo01: A Turtle Odyssey, Austrian Computer Society, Linz, Austria (only at English)
  2. 2001 Ivanov I., Zafirova T., Jordanova N., (2001) poster Special games for handicap children to get control on the mouse, proceedings, Eurologo01: A Turtle Odyssey, Austrian Computer Society, Linz, Austria (only at English)
  3. 2002 Ivanov I., Zafirova T., Jordanova N., paper Software decisions in school learning of children with fine motorics disabilities, The National Assosiation of logopaedia and phoniatria specialists in Bulgaria, Third National Conference The effectiveness of logopaedia therapy Balchik, 25 27 May 2002 (only at Bulgarian)
  4. 2003 Zafirova T., paper Computer education of children with cerebral palsy, Center for independent life and World Learning, seminar: Inforamtion and communication technologies for people in inequal situation Gabrovo, 5 9 March 2003 (only at Bulgarian)
  5. 2003 Ivanov I., Zafirova-Malcheva T., paper Software for children with special needs, Center for European education and multicultural communications, National theoretical and practical conference: The new technologies in education and professional learning, Sofia, 16 17 May 2003 (only at Bulgarian)
  6. 2003 Ivanov I., Zafirova-Malcheva T., Jordanova N., paper In searching the keys, National Assosiation of logopaedia and phoniatria specialists in Bulgaria, Forth National congress Sofia, 28 29 Decenber 2003 (Bulgarian and English)
  7. 2003 Zafirova-Malcheva T., Astrukov J., paper Computer education a window to the world for children with physical disabilities, National Assosiation of logopaedia and phoniatria specialists in Bulgaria, Forth National congress Sofia, 28 29 Decenber 2003 (only at Bulgarian)
  8. 2004 Zafirova-Malcheva T., paper Computer as a mean for socializations for children with cerebral palsy, nternational seminar Mass education, Center for pedagogyical research, Shumen University Bishop . Preslavski Varna, 5 9 July 2004 (only at Bulgarian)
  9. 2005 Ivanov I., Zafirova-Malcheva T., Jordanova N., (2005) paper Let`s play with keyboard, proceedings, X Conference Eurologo05: Digital Tools for Lifelong Learning, Warsaw, Poland, August 28-31 (only at English)
  10. 2005 Ivanov I., Zafirova-Malcheva T., (2005) paper In search of the keys, proceedings, X Conference Eurologo05: Digital Tools for Lifelong Learning, Warsaw, Poland, August 28-31 (only at English)
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THE TEAM

Ivailo Ivanov - programming
Department of Physics, cab. 240
tel. +359 2 8161 861
1164 Sofia,
5, James Boucher Blvd.
e-mail:
iivanov@fmi.uni-sofia.bg

Temenujka Zafirova-Malcheva - design and programming
Computer education for children with special needs
Department of Physics, cab. 240
tel. +359 2 8161 861
1164 Sofia,
5, James Boucher Blvd.
e-mail: tzafirovav@fmi.uni-sofia.bg

Nina Jordanova - consultant
e-mail: ninajordanova@yahoo.com





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