Pick of the Week: Robot Turtles – The Game for Little Programmers

We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of the highly-rated game Robot Turtles: The Little Game for Programmers to our store. Robot Turtles an innovative board game that teaches the fundamentals of computer programming to kids as young as 4 years old without a screen. That’s right – no screen, no keyboard, no special effects; just great design and an innovative concept! And this week only, we’re offering a 15% discount* on this great new game. Just enter TURTLES3 at checkout to redeem your savings on your set of Robot Turtles.

With its origin as the most backed board game in Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles sneakily teaches the fundamentals of programming, from coding to functions, while making silly turtle noises! This game takes seconds to learn, minutes to play, and provides endless learning opportunities. With 4 different levels of play, including basic game play, unlocking obstacles and lasers, unlocking a “write program,” and unlocking the function frog, Robot Turtles is a wonderful game for preschoolers to grow with.

Each set of Robot Turtles comes with:

  • 1 game board
  • 40 game tiles
  • 4 robot turtle tiles
  • 4 jewel tiles
  • 4 code card decks, with 45 cards each

As the best selling board game in all of Kickstarter history, Robot Turtles has been highly anticipated by game creators and consumers alike, and has received a considerable amount of mainstream press. In a recently published New York Times article, creator of the game Dan Shapiro explains his rationale behind creating the game. “Those [game] pieces are intended to represent the commands of a computer program.” Children are required to select cards to move their pieces around the board, pushing or destroying obstacles in their way. With the glowing reviews it has received on trending social media sites, Robot Turtles is sure to teach young learners the fundamentals of a necessary skill in modern technology in a fun and interactive way.

Don’t forget – this week only, take 15% off* your purchase of the brand-new Robot Turtles game by applying code TURTLES3 at checkout!

*Offer is valid through 11:59pm EDT on June 3, 2014. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at checkout!

Know Your Apps when Working with Children with Autism

There are very different expectations for parents and teachers when using apps on a tablet or smartphone with your learner with autism. Parents have a lot more free range on what they allow their children to engage in. As a parent, there are moments when you will have breakfast cooking, the phone ringing, and a work meeting scheduled in twenty minutes. I completely understand why a parent hands a tablet to their child with autism and lets them watch YouTube.

Luca Sage/Getty Images

But, as a teacher, this is not acceptable, unless the child has been working hard, and YouTube is a strong reinforcer for them that will be used for a minute or two. But a teacher needs to be consistently pushing their learners towards independence and thinking about the function of the tasks they are presenting to their learners.

By the same token, a teacher should not be handing a tablet to a learner and trusting that an app is useful simply because it’s labelled as educational. Teachers don’t give a book to a learner without having read it themselves. Teachers don’t provide materials for a science experiment without having tested it out and fully read all directions. But teachers frequently hand a tablet to a learner without having a full understanding of how to use the tablet or how to use all aspects of the apps. This is a problem if the learner has a question the teacher can’t answer, and it’s a problem if the teacher hasn’t carefully chosen apps that meet the needs of his or her individual learner.

To avoid these problems, it is essential to take the time to fully explore an app that you have chosen. Below are questions you can ask yourself while going through the app to decide if it is appropriate for your particular learner.

Questions to ask when you’re exploring an app:

  • Does the game or activity get more or less difficult based on the user’s performance?
  • If the app is billed as an “interactive story,” in what ways it is interactive?
  • What specific skills does the app practice?
  • Is the user easily able to navigate the app? Is there a back button or clear organization about how to move from screen to screen?
  • Are you able to have more than one user for the app? Some apps only allow one user, which is not useful for a classroom environment.
  • What kind of noises does the app use? Some apps have sounds for incorrect answers that your learner may find highly reinforcing, which is counterproductive to say the least.
  • How long is the playing time for one round? Or how long is the story?
  • If the app is a game, is there a natural end to the game or would you have to stop it mid-game?
  • Does the app keep any data or records about the user’s performance? If so, are you able to easily view this information?

Once I have determined if the app is good as a reinforcer, tool for generalization, or tool for introducing a concept, I make sure that I am fully able to use the app on my own. Then, I’m ready to introduce it to my learner!

Pick of the Week: Tiggly Shapes (with Free Shipping!)

We’re really excited to share Tiggly Shapes with you: the first interactive iPad toy designed for toddlers. You have to see it to believe how cool and versatile this new product is.

Tiggly Shapes combines the essential educational benefits of physical play with the learning potential and fun of the iPad. This simple set of four geometric shapes interacts with three free apps to create an ideal learning environment for children. Tiggly Shapes melds the best of what the digital world has to offer with the developmental importance of manipulative play in toddlers and preschoolers.

Our Board Certified Behavior Analyst Sam Blanco just put together a review for Tiggly and how she uses it with her students. Read it in full here.

This week only, we’re offering FREE DOMESTIC SHIPPING on Tiggly Shapes. Just enter the Promo Code TIGGLY at checkout and simply select FREE UPS or USPS Shipping. This makes a perfect holiday gift for the child in your life.

Seventy years of academic research has demonstrated that manipulating physical objects is essential to early childhood development. Tiggly enables parents to bring this critical component of early learning to the “digital sandbox” today’s kids inhabit. The product consists of a simple triangle, circle, square, and star that become interactive when used with the three Tiggly apps to create a robust learning experience.

Tiggly Shapes and apps are designed for children ages 18 months to 4 years old.

The Apps, available for free on iTunes, are:

Tiggly Safari
Use the shapes to construct friendly and adorable animals for the jungle, farm and sea.

Tiggly Safari Screenshot Learn basic shapes with Tiggly Safari!






Tiggly Stamp
This app has a great voice record and camera option that allows you to create an image, tell a story and record it. Use the shapes in this app to build seasonally-themed scenes using everything from jack-o’-lanterns to igloos.

Create animals, fruit, and other characters with Tiggly Shapes.Create a story with Tiggly Shapes and Stamps!






Tiggly Draw
Channel your inner artist and use the tablet as a blank canvas to create your masterpiece.

Tiggly Draw Screenshot

Exercise creativity by taking and saving photos!






Remember, this week only, get free domestic shipping on your order of Tiggly Shapes when you enter in the promo code TIGGLY at checkout!

**Offer expires 12/17/13 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces in the promo code at checkout!

Product Review: Tiggly Shapes

First, let me go ahead and admit that I’ve played with Tiggly Shapes even when none of my students were around. This simple set of four geometric shapes that interacts with three free apps is one of my favorite additions to play time.

So many of my students are highly motivated by iPads, but I find them hard to integrate into lessons because it’s easy for the learner to avoid social interaction while the iPad is out. Tiggly Shapes provides opportunities for interaction with both peers and adults because it adds a physical component to the activity.

I tried this app out with two learners with autism, one five-year-old boy and one nine-year-old boy. For the five-year-old, Tiggly Shapes was a useful tool for practicing shape recognition (one of his current IEP goals), then receiving unique and powerful reinforcement when he touched that shape to the screen. Though he doesn’t have strong fine motor skills, the shapes are designed in such a way that he was easily able to grasp them. He especially loved to see the animals appear in the Tiggly Safari app.

The nine-year-old loves to draw on paper and on the iPad, so Tiggly Draw was an automatic hit for him. The shapes allowed me to participate in the drawing with him in a different way that encouraged more social interaction while still being highly reinforcing for him.

Although the Tiggly Shapes were initially designed for toddlers and preschoolers, the Tiggly Draw app can definitely be used for a variety of learners of all ages (and also happens to be the app I was playing with on my own.) It is the only app for this product that is easy to modify to meet your learner’s specific needs.

If you’re a teacher working with young learners or a parent looking for unique and interactive ways to use the iPad, I wouldn’t hesitate to snap up Tiggly Shapes. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll see more apps to go along with this fantastic new product!

Tip of the Week: Use Your Smartphone as a Photo Journal

Your smartphone just may be an untapped resource in working on skills with your learner. There are several apps out there that allow you to record audio over photos or type text over photos, and many of them are free.

While there are many similar apps out there, I prefer the app Over for adding text to photos because it’s easy to use, offers a variety of fonts, and allows you to move the text to different parts of the pictures ($1.99 in the iTunes store).


For adding audio to videos or photos, I love Shuttersong (free in the iTunes store). This video illustrates how easy it is to use.


You can use these apps to help your learner with a variety of communication and cognitive skills.


  • The apps can be used to help your learner identify people who were engaged in the activity with you. For example, if you take a trip to a petting zoo, you can take photos of the people who went with you. Depending on the level of your learner, this could involve naming the person pictured, discussing what animals were that person’s favorite, or describing things that person did or felt during the trip.
  • Apps can also be used to allow your learner to write or record a statement describing what happened. This can be done in the moment or later for the learner to practice recall.
  • You can print the pictures or save them to a document on your computer or tablet. Your learner can then put them in sequential order and tell you about his/her day.
  • If the learner is working on recall skills with other teachers/adults, you can provide the images to them so they can provide prompts to your learner as needed.


  • Allows you to provide visual prompts for your learner to aid in recalling recent events.
  • If your learners is highly motivated by using the cell phone, this can be a great way to get him/her involved in conversation related to activities you’ve participated in as a family or class.
  • It provides a functional use of the smartphone for your learner.




Pick of the Week: VibraLite MINI Watch

Our pick this week is the VibraLite MINI Watch, our updated version of the popular VibraLITE Watch made specifically for children’s small wrists. This personalized vibrating watch is ideal for reminding children to engage in any variety of situations. This week only, save 15% on your order of the Vibralite MINI Watch by applying the promotional code BLOGVIBW5 at check out!

The VibraLite MINI Watch has a vibration alarm that won’t disturb others and can also be set to audibly beep when time is up. It can accommodate 12 different alarm setting and has an Auto-Reload Countdown Timer that automatically reloads to a preset time that can be set for seconds, minutes, or hours. The alert duration lasts 20 seconds, but can be stopped manually by pushing any button. The VibraLite MINI also offers a new lock feature and easy-to-read time digits. This watch is water resistant up to 50 meters and also features an electroluminescent backlight for viewing at night.

The VibraLite MINI will fit wrist sizes of 5.50″ to 7.20″ in circumference.

Remember, this week only, take 15% off your order of the VibraLite MINI Watch by entering in BLOGVIBW5 in the promo code box at check out!*

*This offer is valid until August 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with other offers. Be sure there are no spaces in the code at check out!

Pick of the Week: The ABA Graphing CD

ABA, Discrete Trial Teaching, Verbal Behavior Analysis, Natural Environment Teaching, and Incidental Teaching Programs share one necessary common feature: Data collection and analysis! The process of translating collected data to interpretable, organized, meaningful visual displays can be a daunting, time consuming task for behavior analysts, parents, and teachers. The ABA Graphing CD will help you save time while making professional behavioral graphs. It contains a preformatted Excel™ spreadsheet for 30 ABA programs; a step-by-step guide describing and showing screen shots; a daily Data Sheet; Monthly Data Sheet; and ASAP™ Preference Assessment Form.
The preformatted spreadsheet allows you to enter data for up to 30 different ABA programs. Entered data automatically updates an individualized graph for that program and instantly produces high quality behavioral graphs. Each program is preformatted for three different steps. The CD is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

This week only, save 15% on the ABA Graphing CD by entering the Promo Code BLOGABAG at checkout.

*Offer expires on March 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces after the Promo Code when you enter it at checkout.

Apps for Children with Special Needs

For all you technophiles who are loving using the iPad with your students and children, this website – Apps for Children with Special Needs – is going to knock your socks off. They’re completely on top of all the new educational apps coming out. They list each one, explaining their features in detail and even provide a video of the app in use so you can decide if it’s right for you before shelling out the money. This is a GREAT site that we highly recommend!

Enter to win a free iPad from the HollyRod Foundation

The HollyRod Foundation is raising money to provide free iPads to families in need. Applications are being accepted until December 31, 2010. In trying to donate to the those in the most need, the guidelines stipulate that the child is non-verbal or minimally verbal and that the family falls below a certain income level. We applaud the HollyRod Foundation for trying to make a real difference in the lives of families in our community.


Here at Different Roads to Learning, we’re doing our best to keep up with the ever shifting changes in technology.  There’s a ton of wonderful stuff on the internet and on YouTube but who has the time to sift through endless videos, trying to find one that is age-appropritate and addresses the skills you’re working on with your children and students.  To take advantage of some of the great, free stuff out there, we’ve created our very own Difflearn YouTube Channel! Stacy, our fantastic and tireless Behavioral Consultant, has been assembling quality videos that you can use for Feeding & Nutrition, Reinforcement and she’s got a whole section for Play.

Please let us know what else you’d like to see up there or what you’re using for reinforcement or teaching play and social skills. We look forward to hearing from you!