For basic game play and information, view the first two posts on the previous Ballyland Code apps:
Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello
Ballyland Code 2: Give Rotor
The three Ballyland Code apps are designed to introduce young students to coding logic. These apps introduce coding concepts and problem solving and also improve tech skills and orientation and mobility skills. These apps should be played in order, as Ballyland Code 1: Say Hello begins with an interactive tutorial before the games. Ballyland Code 1 and Code 2 both have obstacles that need to be avoided while Ballyland Code 3: Pick Up has items that need to found and picked up.
All three of the apps are formatted the same, using a 3×3 grid with Wheelie starting in the top left corner. The game announces the grid size and is carefully crafted to use the same language as a standard screen reader to announce the rows and columns. Learning to create mental maps and to navigate digital grids are critical tech skills for students who rely on a screen reader. These same mental mapping skills are used by students who are visually impaired when navigating routes in their schools and communities.
The routes in Ballyland Code 3 are progressively longer and more challenging, especially as students are encouraged to navigate the quickest route. The app contains a fun story and intriguing sounds, making it a sure hit with students! 3D printer files are available for the accompanying 3D printed manipulatives. Manipulatives significantly improve a student’s ability to bridge the gap between traditional tactile grids to digital grids and these tactiles help students to build strong mental maps and to truly understand spatial relationships.
As with the first two Ballyland coding apps, the student should first explore the screen by dragging his finger around the screen – paying attention to the locations of the coin, flower and frog. The student should use the row and column numbers to develop a mental map of the grid and where these items are located on the grid. Use manipulatives (3D printed materials or create your own tactile grid and objects) to create a tactile version of the grid. By Code 3, the student should be able to quickly locate the items on the screen and then quickly place the tactile manipulatives in the correct locations. Most students are then able to mentally determine the steps to navigate between each item. If necessary, the student can double check his mental route using either the manipulatives or the digital grid. Note: The manipulatives are designed to bridge the gap between traditional tactile materials and digital materials – as soon as the student has the concept, he should be weaned off the tactile materials so that he can increase his mental maps!
This is one game – when it is good – if the student memorizes the layout of the three games in each app! Memorizing means that the student has built a solid mental map – especially if he remembers the layout a week or a month later. After all, the student will learn real school or community routes that he needs to retain, especially if he does not routinely run those routes on a daily or weekly basis!
Ballyland games are designed for iPad beginners. The app is not used with VoiceOver but is fully accessible with the self-voicing mode turned on. Players who rely on auditory need to turn Self-Voicing ON in order to access the Main Menu.
By Diane Brauner