This week I’d like to introduce you to Injini: Childhood Development Game Suite. It’s a wonderful iPad app with learning games that were originally developed for children with special needs. We’ve been trying them out and I think they’re fantastic for all toddlers, preschoolers and Kindergarteners. From playing Injini it’s obvious that a great deal of time and thought went into the app’s development. The game developers actually worked with parents, educators and special needs experts and their influence definitely shows through. This is an app that has children in mind.
I’m going to give a quick overview and some of my thoughts on the app because I asked Michael Roloufs from Project Injini to answer a few questions about the Game Suite. The app currently features nine games with more planned for future updates. There are games that deal with patterning, shapes, memory, tracing and matching skills. There’s a farm where children can interact with the animals and 100 puzzles for different skill levels. The learning games all have different levels and you can select the difficulty that’s appropriate for your child. Take for example the patterning game. Level one deals with simple AAA? patterns but level nine works with ABABA?, ABBAB? or ABCAB?. It’s very easy to navigate through Injini, children should have no trouble working that out on their own. Hidden buttons are also available enabling adults to pause the game, get help or return to the main menu. The user interface works well and has a good flow. The graphics and sound effects are also top notch.
Injini is one of the pricier apps to be featured on my site ($49.99) but the quality and amount of content is excellent. For those who like to try before they buy a free version, Injini Lite, recently became available in the App Store. The lite version includes eight of the nine games in the full version and up to three levels in those games. That is a solid amount of content for a lite version. This is an iPad only app.
Enough from me, now I’m going to let Michael Roloufs tell you about Injini in his own words. On a side note, he’s also a full time teacher. The influence of educators is all over this app and I love it! At the end of the interview you’ll find a link to iTunes for both Injini versions, full and lite, along with device requirement information.
What is Injini? How was it developed?
Injini Child Development Game Suite is a collection of learning games designed to practice pre-academic skills in a fun way.
Game industry professionals, special educators, teachers, curriculum specialists and parents worked for 2 years to make this unique collection of games. We built the prototype based on research and tested it intensively in classrooms of local school districts and centers of early intervention around the Bay Area in California, as well as within Injini team’s own families.
This long testing stage is really what made Injini so unique and high quality. We learned a lot about the school environment and from child development specialists, including occupational therapists and speech pathologists. We presented at conferences and got precious feedback from professionals in other areas as well. Beta testing in families was awesome because we could get detailed case studies on each children’s total environment, and it was great to see progress with Injini in our little beta testers’ hands.
The result is truly a panorama of play and a fun way to learn! There are 9 learning games in the current version, 100’s of puzzles, more than 50 hand-painted tracing game illustrations, 8 farm-themed mini-games, and a spectrum of levels and skills development methods. Injini is ideally suited for early intervention and achieving developmental milestones – it brings fun to learning and at the same time practices children’s fine motor and language skills, understanding of cause and effect, spatial awareness, memory and visual processing.
Can you explain what a “Child Development Suite” is? Why combine the learning games instead of releasing individual apps?
We wanted our games to make up a complete and comprehensive learning environment, one that a child could enter and explore without the inconvenience of exiting the app to find similar games. Since most iPads belong to parents and have an assortment of apps that may be of no interest to a child, we wanted our games to be neatly packaged and accessible. The learning experience is therefore more appealing – Injini’s full depth and breadth of games can be enjoyed in one place, just as a child would learn a variety of subjects in one school. The player is able to glide smoothly from one game to the next without interruption or help from an adult. It’s a more child friendly experience.
How does Injini work as a tool for children with special needs? What type of benefits for these children did you see in your testing?
Injini was designed to enhance the development of fundamental, pre-academic skills, so all kids can benefit from it, whether typically developing or special needs. However, in creating Injini, we were particularly conscious of the lack of fun learning games that children with special needs could also enjoy and benefit from. We make the game environment easily accessible, with a crisp and clean feel. We minimized distracting sounds and graphics, kept the rules simple, and eliminated the penalties and punishments that are typical in other game environments. The affect was a very child friendly and appealing game environment that children with special needs could explore without frustration. As a result, the first benefit we saw was longer, more consistent engagement and a smoother, more focused learning experience. In our beta tests with teachers and families, we also noted that Injini was great for socialization skills – such as sharing and communication. Finally, we saw that kids were able to consistently practice a host of pre-academic skills that children are encouraged to practice by parents, teachers and child development specialists – fine motor skills, visual discrimination, response inhibition, audio and visual processing, spatial awareness, memory and more.
The price for Injini is much higher than what you’ll usually see in the App Atore. Can you explain why?
Injini was created through a unique collaboration of professional game makers and child development specialists over the course of two years. We wanted to create something that was more like a curriculum than a single game – thus the suite of 9 games. But what’s really unique is the full depth and breadth of play and learning, not only across the game suite but within each game. It’s MUCH, MUCH more than what you’d see in the learning games that are scattered around the Appstore. There are hundreds of puzzles and illustrations. Each game is carefully designed for kids, has 8-10 distinct levels, and is full of content for each level. We didn’t skimp on sound or graphics quality either – we knew that parents would appreciate top quality artwork, animations and real human voicing. And, to trump it all, we decided to add new games to the suite via automatic updates for free! If you’re still not sure, try Injini Lite!
What’s coming up for Injini?
You can get the latest news from Project Injini via Facebook, but the biggest news is the launch of Injini Lite. We also have a handful of new games to be added soon to the Game Suite, so stay tuned. Schools can get involved with our pilot program for schools. We are also developing a second app as a first AAC for non-verbal toddlers.
Price when Reviewed: $49.99 or FREE
Requirements: Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this app for review purposes.