RelationShapes is an application available on iOS and android platforms and is designed to develop young children’s visual-spatial reasoning and creative problem solving through open ended play. The app offers two interrelated areas of play and replay:
Match It – Exploration and discovery has free reign as children manipulate abstract and figurative shape combinations to make a match – any way they choose!
Picture It – Creativity and delight abound as children use their imagination to personalize their shape pictures with vivid accessories and backgrounds that add humor and context.
The app is free from in-app adverts and in-app purchases.
Upon opening the app, the user is greeted with a delightful splash screen and colourful graphics that really appeal to the younger user, not to mention the great music. The app has a very simple but effective feel to it and the Home screen offers numerous options.
The ‘Grown-ups’ icon in the top left invites parents via a secure shape code to customise the app including players, sound, further information and level descriptions. We like the fact that more players can be added here, although we felt that the developers may consider allowing the players to create an avatar from one of the many pictures created in the app. This icon also offers links to social media and further contact with the developers along with instructions for the application.
Once a player has been selected they start with a series of levels. These are best described below.
Level 1 – The introduction to the application. Children explore and recall spatial relationships including apart, tangent, overlapping, inside and concentric.
There are 6 items here focusing on a split screen where the user has to match the shapes. There are some nice in app prompts to help and we love the fact that the shapes lock into position. Very often small children with limited fine motor skills struggle to place objects accurately on a device using their fingers. Once an item has been completed the child is awarded a prize to be included in their picture composition. Each graphical prize awarded is linked to a similar theme, for instance, creating a house or creating an alien. The reward element really focused the children to explore more and create further exciting pictures. The picture can then be saved in their own gallery. Once again here the graphics are visually stunning, quirky, funny and use vivid colours.
Level 2 – Shape constancy: Children use their developing visual-spatial skills to explore and recall a variety of shape combinations.
This level again explores matching shapes but also asks the user to expand and reduce the shapes to fit. The application also has a number of prompts to help the user move through the tasks with pace. We did find that the application works best on a tablet device than that of a mobile when expanding and reducing the shapes with their fingers.
Level 3 – Two Shape combinations and orientations. Children explore and recall spatial relationships with shapes in frontal and rotated positions. As we reach the 3rd level we found that the app really builds on the previous skills and enables children to gain confidence. It goes without saying that the rotation of a shape is quite tricky but our users handled this with ease due to previous learning.
Level 4 – Triangles: Children explore and recall spatial relationships comprised of a variety of isosceles, equilateral and right angled triangles. Maybe further information can be given about these types of shapes?
Level 5 – Shape Construction (Early geometry): Children combine triangles to construct new shapes such as squares and rectangles.
Level 6 – Three-shape combinations: Children explore and recall combinations with multiple spatial relationships, abstract content and figurative designs. There are now 8 stages within this level.
Level 7 – Advanced Multi-shape combinations and shape construction. Children explore, construct and recall complex shapes and spatial relationships. There are 8 items within this level.
Level 8 – Bringing it all together: Children use all the skills learnt in the previous levels to explore and imagine with a wide range of shape combinations. There are 8 stages within this level.
It is noted that the user can go back on any of the stages attempted previously but they cannot go forward to other levels. I was expecting something different or a reward when we had completed all of the levels.
The 'Picture it' gallery – This part of the app features after each item is completed and provides the user with a new creative graphic every time. We love the fact that you can use other graphics gained in previous levels and that the background can be changed. The graphics are simply divine, some animated with their own unique sounds. Take a snapshot to include in your gallery. A print feature from the gallery may also be another possibility.
One of the great features of this app is the ability to change both sides of the screen. This is ideal for a multiplayer situation or a classroom task. The teacher can move around the classroom creating patterns within the split screen for the child to match. This can really help with differentiated tasks. Friends can also change the shapes and set a challenge in two player mode. The developers could consider a differentiated approach with each level having a starting set of shapes; easy, medium and hard. The developers could also consider a scoring system for the app to create a competitive leader board. It is also noted that the narration is in American English, this is minimal, however the developers may consider other languages, this could have a great global appeal as most of the app focuses on visual aspects.
We discovered that the thinking behind the application comes from the Agam Method. The Agam method teaches children to identify, analyze, and create with the visual building blocks that make up our world. Together, these building blocks, such as shapes, patterns, directions, and symmetry, form a universal “visual language.” The Agam Method has a long history of classroom implementation, research, and refinement dating back to the 1980s. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel led experimental studies to determine its impact on young children’s learning. Data from 1990 through 2007 indicate that children who engaged with the method made significant gains in early geometry and visual-spatial skills, including shape identification and deconstruction, visual acuity, and mental rotation of objects. Children also demonstrated significantly higher problem solving and school readiness skills, particularly in the areas of writing and maths.
We simply love this application and the developers can be highly commended for the amount of research and dedication it has taken to create such a wonderful piece of software.
RelationShapes comes highly recommended by the EducationalAppStore.com and receives our five-star certification.
From the Developer
Play the visual way™
Develop young children’s visual-spatial reasoning and creative problem-solving skills through open-ended play! Build a strong foundation for school readiness with RelationShapes™. RelationShapes is based on the award-winning visual education method created by Y. Agam, a world-renowned pioneer of kinetic art.
RelationShapes offers two interrelated areas that invite children to play and replay:
- Match It – Exploration and discovery have free reign as children manipulate abstract and figurative shape combinations to make a match – any way they choose!
- Picture It – Creativity and delight abound as children use their imagination to personalize their shape pictures with vivid accessories and backgrounds that add humor and context.
RelationShapes is designed with young learners and their grown-ups in mind.
Key Features for Families & Educators:
- Share the experience: Four user profiles are included with each app download
- Level up: Eight levels of increasingly challenging activities promote flexible thinking and creativity
- Play together: Cooperate via the split screen design and multi-touch capability
- Monitor progress: View the skills children learn and practice as they progress through each level
- Play flexibly: Use at home or in the classroom for independent play, paired learning, center time, or small group instruction
- Collect creations: Save and review children’s pictures in the gallery
- Extend beyond the screen: Connect digital and real world play and learning with six printable Extended Learning resources
Young children utilize their fine motor skills to play RelationShapes. Devices with larger screens will offer the most optimal user experience.
We take your privacy very seriously. RelationShapes is COPPA compliant. It does not include third party advertising, does not collect children’s personally identifying information, and all content created in the app stays on the device.
To learn more about VizuVizu and RelationShapes, visit our website at www.vizuvizu.com.
AgesToddler Apps (0-3 Years)
Reception/Preschool Apps (3-5 Years)
Primary School Apps (5-7 Years)