How Do You Know?

Category: English / Literacy

Ages: 5-7 7-11
Price: Android - £4.21 iPhone/iPad - £4.99

This app is aimed at helping young people improve their critical thinking and verbal reasoning skills to explain how they know the answers to certain questions. Secondary learning also happens through the app including helping young people gain a better understanding of the English language through expanding their vocabulary and learning important visual literacy skills. All of this is done through a fun and interactive way where users are given pictures and questions that help them to define what is happening whilst learning and improving their verbal reasoning skills.  There a number of added features in the app too including an ability to track progress of the user, which makes this a good tool in educational settings.

The app’s author: Lynn Epstein, MS, ASHA certified speech language pathologist with over 25 years of clinical experience in child language and communication development. How Do You Know? App is based on successful strategies and lessons used with 1000s of students to target and strengthen varied language and reasoning skills.


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Teacher Review

The developers of this app have clearly spent some time thinking about how they can produce an app that builds on critical thinking and inference skills. As this is a big part of many national curriculums, the app fits the brief and achieves this well. From the developer’s website, it is clear to see that the app has also been reviewed well by other curriculum sites linking it to specific themes within the curriculum. There are also some explanations of the app on the website to help users make the decision on whether to purchase the app before they do. Within the app the user is given a number of categories with a couple of sets of question formats aimed to help build strategies for critical development and it is these learning outcomes that align the app to curriculums in the UK and US

 The idea of the app is to have users think about what they are seeing in pictures and to use verbal reasoning skills to explain, describe and verbalise this. This obviously helps to improve these critical thinking skills but also helps young children to improve and expand their vocabulary too. Visual literacy skills are obviously an important factor in education and a number of these skills features heavily within the curriculum, therefore an app that relies on children expanding these skills is going to be extremely beneficial in the app market. The way that the app achieves this further builds on the quality of the idea within the app mainly because the content is accessed so easily and has a very user-friendly interface throughout. The app can also be used in the Special Educational Needs (SEND) market especially working with children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder and this certainly gives it an extra dimension. There are however, some small things that stop this from being a 5 star app. Some (although few) of the pictures appear blurred or seem similar to ‘clip art’ pictures. The voice can fluctuate also between something that sounds friendly to something a bit more mechanical and this detracts a little from the learning within the app, however there is the ability to turn this off if it is too distracting.

On opening the app the user is welcomed to the homepage where they are able to access a couple of different options including entering the main content of the app, accessing the user settings and visiting the reports page. The settings page allows the user to add new users as well as reading through a short manual with information on how to use the app. Once a user has been set up a further set of options are available and these include options to slightly personalise the learning for the user. These include adding sounds and audio cues as well as having manual scoring through the app. Once these settings have been selected the user is then able to access the main content by returning to the main menu and selecting the start button. Once this is done the user can select from 16 different categories which range from events and holidays to weather and emotions. There is clearly a wide variety of content within the app and this is where its main strengths lie. After a category has been chosen the user then selects how many questions they wish to be answered. This is a great way again to further differentiate for different users and abilities as you can select from 1 question to 18.

Once all this has been done the user is then given a picture on the screen related to the category with a question below that and three different statements below that. Each of the statements is read out and can be read out again if needed. The aim is for the user to discern what is happening in the picture and pick the right answer. Further questions then go into more detail about how they know this is a case and really ‘drills down’ into expanding reasoning skills to know why something is what they believe it to be.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the content and the idea behind the app. The questioning is done in an interesting way that further develops young children’s skills in detecting and understanding what it is they are seeing. The reporting side is also a good addition to the app as it allows a way to track the user and this is especially beneficial in an educational setting.

Overall though this is a good app which has a large amount of content that is fun to access and use. 

From the Developer

How do you know app uses over 500 pictures and questions to engage students in critical thinking skills. Children will build and strengthen their language and inferential skills by identifying and labeling visual clues and key details to explain how they know the answer!

How Do You Know targets the following language goals

  • Question comprehension: who, what, where, when & how
  • Verbal reasoning strategies to make inferences
  • Critical thinking skills to distinguish key details
  • Build Vocabulary and semantic knowledge
  • Use pictures to build concept imagery
  • Recognize and label associated vocabulary
  • Practice reading comprehension at sentence level
  • Verbal Reasoning Skills

Teachers, Parents & Therapists Favorite Features

Lots of content; Over 10 categories: Places, Activities, Weather, Emotions, Conditions & State of Being, People & Occupations, Animals, Time, Events, Holidays, Geography

Items within each category are randomized

  • Data collection with percentages for both Wh-questions & How questions
  • Different levels of difficulty using or fading audio and visual prompts
  • A Study Guide and tutorial section called “Let’s Talk About It!”
  • Email reports and share results with parents, teachers, & therapists
  • 100 name capacity; edit to add/delete names
  • A "Read to Me" option; audio on/off
  • Practice reading at phrase & sentence level
  • Reinforcement; encouraging audio feedback for correct & incorrect responses

“Listen Again” button:

Let’s Talk About: a tutorial section to introduce/review vocabulary and explain verbal reasoning strategies.

Developed by a certified SLP with over 28 years of clinical experience

About the author: Lynn Epstein, MS, ASHA certified speech language pathologist with over 28 years of clinical experience in child language and communication development. How Do You Know? app is based on successful strategies and lessons used with thousands of students to strengthen communication and verbal reasoning skills. 

Related Research

How Do You Know? App is an effective tool to practice inferential skills and critical thinking. Verbal reasoning and critical thinking are necessary skills for meeting core curriculum standards and competence across the curriculum. Students engaged in critical thinking must make associations that connect problems with their prior knowledge (Pellegrini, 1995). Research shows questioning prompts students to engage in a research process that fosters higher-order thinking skills and social-moral attitudes (Daniel et al., 2005). Difficulty answering wh- questions affects a child academically, linguistically, and socially. (Parnell, 1986). How Do You Know? uses pictures and questions to engage language strategies that prompt children to look for visual clues and name key details to explain their answers. Students learn how to answer questions with relevant information. Students practice verbal reasoning by explaining the inferences they make while playing How Do You Know?

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