App Review: The ‘Squirrel Story’ Narrative Assessment (ages 3-6yo) £14.99

The ‘Squirrel Story’ narrative Assessment app

Black Sheep Press have developed a Narrative Assessment tool which is available in hard copy and is also downloadable as an app (for iPad). The ‘Squirrel Story’ is not norm referenced, but is designed to support curriculum planning and target setting.

The app version features an illustrated ebook with voice overs (in UK English – male and female), an audio recording feature to record the child’s re-telling as well as an in-app profiling feature that can be carried out by the TOD afterwards. An automatic report is then generated, which can be shared, along with the audio recording, via iCloud, Dropbox or email.

It provides a profile around 6 key areas of narrative skills in young children. Black Sheep Press promise that it is ‘Quick to administer’ and ‘easy to score’.

Areas of specific difficulty for deaf children

Linguistic devices such as…

• Verb rules

• Verb inflections

• Pronouns

• Articles

• Prepositions

• Conjunctions

• Subordinate clauses

Pragmatic language skills such as knowledge of the listeners needs.

Domain general cognitive abilities such as working memory skills ie. the ability to encode, store, manipulate and recall information

Review (4.5/5)

Children liked the format (listen first and then you tell the story back to me) and using the iPad. Those with a Roger pen or touchscreen transmitter were able to connect directly to the iPad to support listening.

The transcription took some time, I recommend doing this in a quiet space afterwards. it was then quick to highlight the features and vocabulary. I recommend adding additional comments for each section as these are prominent in the final report

The design and framework allowed me to look for features that I was confident to identify, as a Teacher of the Deaf.

I found the app really useful as a tool for my own understanding of what children can do, I liked the voice recording which created a baseline for regular progress checks and could be saved electronically along with the final report.

The final report shows a summary rating in:

• Listening and attention

• Story structure

• Story content

• Level of language used

• Gesture/nonverbal and

• Vocabulary

The vocabulary checklist and transcription sections are great and provide a clear overview, highlighting gaps and strengths.

Black Sheep Press also have a free (downloadable) narrative comprehension assessment, that can be used as a follow-up activity, which I haven’t yet explored.

Peter and the Cat (ages 5-9) is also available for older or more advanced language users, in paper copy and iPad app.

Please see the January BATOD magazine for the full article review (p31)

Further Reading

Boons, T. De Raevec, L. Langereise, M. Peeraerb, L. Woutersa, J. van Wieringen, A. (2013) Expressive vocabulary, morphology, syntax and narrative skills in profoundly deaf children after early cochlear implantation. Research in developmental Disabilities. 34.

Jones, A. , Toscanob, E. Botting, N. Marshall, C. Atkinson, J. Denmark, T. Herman, R. Morgan, G. (2016) Narrative skills in deaf children who use spoken English: Dissociations between macro and microstructural devices. Research in developmental Disabilities. 59. 268–282

Marshall, C., Jones, A., Denmark, T., Mason, K., Atkinson, J., Botting, N., et al. (2015). Deaf children’s non-verbal working memory is good impacted by their language experience. Front. Psychol. 6:527. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00527

Rathmann, C. Mann, W. Morgan, G (2007). Narrative Structure and Narrative Development in Deaf Children. Deafness and Education International. 9 [4]. 187–196

Renfrew CE. Bus Story Test. Derbyshire, UK. Winslow Press, 1997

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