App Review: Tense Builder

App Review: Tense Builder


Developer: Mobile Education Store

Price: $14.99


Aside from acting out verbs with children, I haven’t found another activity that provides a real understanding of verb tenses (and there is a limit to the number of verbs that you can act out) over and over again.

Tense Builder is designed to help students learn how to identify and use correct tense forms (present, past, and future) using an interactive movie format. This allows the child to see the verbs in action providing an authentic learning experience.


Features Include:

  • 42 video animations for target verbs (with plans to expand to 58 by December 2012)
  • Ability to choose which verb tense to target (or target them all)
  • Ability to choose irregular or regular verbs (or target them together).
  • Ability to select specific verbs to work on.
  • Two different levels of play
  • Receptive and Expressive tasks during play
  • Store and track multiple students
  • Ability to record, save, and email responses
  • Data tracking through app stats.
  • Built in Video Tutorial


Level One: 

Level 1

–  Receptive Task: The child watches the short movie and is then presented with a         sentence and three picture choices

–       The child has to touch the picture that corresponds to that verb tense.

–       If the child makes an error, it says “that’s not quite right”. The App zooms in on the picture and explains WHY the picture is the incorrect choice. When the child selects the correct picture it reinforces by saying “that’s right” and explains the tense and what it means.

Once the child has selected the correct image, they are prompted to record the sentences, giving them practice with the targeted verb tense.


Level Two:

Level 2

–       The child watches the video and completes a ‘fill in the sentence’ activity for the correct verb tense.

–       After the video it will give the child a picture from the video and 3 – 7 word choices (you can set the amount of choices in the settings) and they have to drag to correct verb tense into the sentence that corresponds with the picture.

–        If the child drags the wrong word into the sentence, it will highlight their response and show a quick video reinforcer of the verb they chose. This will show the student why their choice was incorrect. If the student choose correctly it gives them verbal praise and they you can select next sentence.

Both Level 1 and level 2 offer the full video lesson tutorials. These can be a bit long, but necessary especially when first playing the app.

App Review Checklist & Rating Chart: Total Score   /20
Speech/Language/Education Apps



Content is appropriate 1
No in app purchases required for use 1
Help/tutorial Available 1
Students can launch and navigate in the app independently 1
App is fairly priced and/or comparable to other similarly priced apps 1


App can be customized for different users 1
App can be used for single user or groups 0
Content/data can easily be exported 1
User data is saved from session to session 1


1 ½ /2
Design graphics/sounds are appealing 1
App is interactive, engaging & motivating for user 1/2


App is designed to target speech/language skills 1
App is designed to target auditory processing – phonemic awareness 1
App can be adapted to target speech/language skills 1
App encourages critical thinking and higher level language 1
App has good potential for interaction between user and therapist 1
Response to errors is specific and results in improved performance 1
Targeted skills are practiced in an authentic learning environment 1
App offers complete flexibility to alter settings to meet students needs 1
App can be used across a variety of age/developmental groups 1


18 ½ /20


Star Rating

17 – 20 Points – 5 Stars

13 – 16 Points – 4 Stars

9 – 12 Points – 3 Stars

5 – 8 Points – 2 Stars

1 – 4 Points – 1 Star


  • The short animated videos are engaging and funny.
  • The movies can be paused at any point to allow for discussion and extension teaching.
  • Narratives, attention to details, inferencing, humour and even articulation practice can be targeted using this app.
  • The movies can be replayed if necessary
  • Well defined levels of skill and complexity
  • Level 1 does not allow the child to choose the incorrect response repeatedly and this curbs  impulsivity
  • Recording features allows additional verbal feedback and self-monitoring practice. Recorded sentences can also be saved and stored.
  • Data collection occurs and multiple students can be made users for this app although it cannot be used as a group activity. The data can be printed and emailed.


Areas for Improvement
  • It is quite expensive at $14.99 but in my view well worth it.
  • Some knowledge of reading/word structure needed for the child to use it independently
  • On Level 2, it would be nice if the sentence is read for the child once they have made a selection. This would allow for younger children to work more independently.
  • If  the child accidentally inserts the incorrect word, the app does not allow the child to make any corrections
  • Although the videos are really engaging and funny, this is not a game App (nor was it meant to be), so the child does lose interest after a couple of practice verbs. However, in order to reinforce verbs, then it’s a good idea to only use a few at a time
11 Tools to improve Reading Comprehension

11 Tools to improve Reading Comprehension

Good readers employ strategies before, during, and after reading that help them comprehend text. As I mentioned in my last post “Causes of reading comprehension difficulties,” struggling readers do not understand why they have difficulty comprehending.

There is however, no definitive set of strategies for remediation of reading comprehension difficulties and identification of where comprehension is breaking down will assist in employing the correct strategy to facilitate Reading Comprehension.

In addition to employing reading comprehension strategies, it is important to implement the following:

Provide the Right Kind of Books

One of the most important aspects of facilitating Reading Comprehension is reading fluency.  A child should be able to recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to try and decode a word makes it difficult to focus on the overall meaning of the story.

Reading activities can be divided into three categories, depending on when they take place:

A. Pre-reading

B. Reading

C. Post-reading.


 A.   Pre-Reading Strategies

i.        SIGHT WORDS:

Improve Sight Word Vocabulary and consequently, Reading Comprehension



The child is engaged in enrichment activities prior to reading the passage. In this way, students have the opportunity to activate and enhance existing knowledge before reading. Pre-teaching vocabulary words will also enhance comprehension.



From a very young age, most children are exposed to story books. These fictional texts (narratives) share a common, predictable structure called story grammar. This predictable structure enhances students’ comprehension whether they listen to the narrative or read it themselves. Improve Reading Comprehension by providing a framework for learning and remembering information.

Teaching story grammar structure emphasizes the importance of metacognitive or active reading strategies to improve comprehension. It directs students’ attention on story structure by teaching them to ask five “wh” questions about the settings and episodes of the story.



Encourage the child to preview comprehension questions. This will allow the child to focus on answering those questions as they read.


 B.   Reading


By the end of Grade two a child should be able to read approximately 90 words a minute. Rereading familiar, simple books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly and facilitates fluency. The optimal number of readings has been found to be four.



Graphic organizers, which provide a visual map for the reader, can be placed next to the text as learners read in groups or individually, aloud or silently. They are particularly useful in helping readers to understand the structure of a narrative or of an argument.

Graphic organizers also assist in encouraging visualization of information which also assists with comprehension.


Links to a variety of free graphic organizers can be found here:


iii.    K-W-L STRATEGY

The K-W-L strategy stands for what I Know, what I Want to learn, and what I did Learn. By activating students’ background knowledge, it improves comprehension of expository text. (Expository text refers to writing where the purpose is to inform, describe, explain, or define the author’s subject to the reader)



Increase correct answers to reading comprehension questions by considering both the text and the background knowledge. The question-answer relationships strategy helps students label the type of questions that are asked and to use this information to develop their answers.

 “Right There” Label:
Words used to create the question and words used for the answer are Right There in the same sentence.

 “Think and Search” Label:
The answer is in the text, but words used to create the question and those used for an appropriate answer would not be in the same sentence. They come from different parts of the text.

 “On My Own” Label:
The answer is not found in the text. You can even answer the question without reading the text by using your own experience

Based on the questions, it is important to encourage the child to think about what they know and make predictions based on what they know and what they have read.



By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.


C.  Post Reading


Improve Reading Comprehension by retelling a story to partners, using outlines. By retelling students relate information from the story to their own experiences. In this way, they improve their reading comprehension and memory of story information.


Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:

  • Identify or generate main ideas
  • Connect the main or central ideas
  • Eliminate unnecessary information
  • Remember what they have read

Poor comprehenders do not necessarily have a comprehension impairment that is specific to reading. Rather, their difficulties with reading comprehension need to be seen in the context of difficulties with language comprehension more generally


Explicit teaching of comprehension strategies can be an effective intervention for these difficulties and impact significantly on later academic success.