Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Overview of our current iPad Apps

We have been using the iPad with Emma for about 5 months now and she still LOVES it!  In fact, we all love the iPad and are happy when Emma decides to share it or when she goes to sleep and it's up for grabs.

We bought the iPad for both communication and entertainment use and I have to say we are 100% satisfied with the purchase.  The iPad opened up a whole new world to Emma.  She can use it to communicate, watch movies, flip through books, play music, learn her alphabet, play games - it almost feels like there is very little this handy device can't do!

I've had several people ask me for app recommendations for the iPad so I decided to share the programs we have loaded.  I am going to do a separate post on how we use the iPad for communication and focus this post on our iPad set up and non-communication apps.

With the new operating software we gained the ability to put the apps into folders.  This cleaned up the desktop significantly so now I can find her apps by the skill we want to work on.  I left our communication programs - Yes/No, Proloquo2Go, and TapSpeak Sequence on the desktop for easy access while I put most of her other apps into categories.  The categories I created are:  Books, Music Apps, Listening Fun, Pointing Fun, Educational Games and Flash Cards.

Our favorite books are the Dr. Seuss books, The Monster at the End of the Book (Grover Monster), and Toy Story.  They highlight the words as they are reading, have fantastic graphics, and include interactive options.  The Dr. Seuss and Toy Story (a free app!) books include the feature to auto read which I love!  She can also scroll through the pages on her own and is getting really good at flipping through her iPad books in a way that she can't do with her actual books.

Both girls really love the music apps we have loaded.  Emma loves to play the Virtuoso piano on her own but needs a bit of help on the others.  Julia is more than happy to play the music apps along with Emma so she gets to play these apps a lot even if I am doing something else.  I highly recommend the Old Mac and Itsy Bitsy apps shown below.  The Toddler JukeBox app is great, but I wish they made something like that where you could put your own music from iTunes along with a coordinating picture (sort of like in Prolo or TapSpeak) into the boxes and customize it for your child.  Anyone know of a program that does that?  Any app developers out there?

One thing we really like about the iPad is that we can use it to reinforce Emma's listening skills in a fun way.  She does not really enjoy her listening or speech therapy sessions, but is totally tuned in to listen when I incorporate the speech and listening into games.  The iPad has so many fun games for listening!  Our go to favorite games are Peekaboo Barn and Peekaboo Wild.  LOVE them!  For Peekaboo Barn the barn door shakes and you hear the sound the animal in the barn makes until you tap the screen (anywhere!  perfect for our kids with little finger pointing!) and the barn doors open and the animal is shown and a child says the animal name.  Then you tap the screen again and you get a closed barn door with the animal noise to play again.  The one thing that would make this program better is if the animal sound was louder - it would really make it a better listening game but as is we still love to play it.  We were lucky to get a free code for Peekaboo Forest to add to the collection and are happy to hear that a Peekaboo Fridge is in the works.  Sparkabilities Babies 2 is also a favorite in this house (we did have a couple problems with the app and the developers were very good at responding to my emails and then follow-up on the resolution).

We've seen that the iPad has brought out Emma's pointer finger a lot.  She is less fisted and more open handed when using the iPad and we are even seeing her pointer finger emerging to play some of the games.  I've collected a few games, many of them free, to promote the increased use of her pointer finger.  Emma loves these games, especially the Fireworks, Glow Draw and Koi Pond app.  I love how much fun she has with these games, that she can play them independently, and that she is working on her fine motor skills without even realizing it!

I downloaded a lot of ABA Flashcards when they were giving them out for free last year.  Emma loves to flip through the flash cards and can do this activity independently but I often choose to play with the flash cards when we are working together.  I like to reinforce the vocabulary and talk about each item and love that they are on a plain white background.  We don't use the Flash Cards as much as the other apps because I have touch and feel real flash cards at home that I use more, but I think we will use these more as Emma gets older.

Here is a screen shot of our desktop.  As you can see there are other apps. I haven't covered here including 123 Color HD.  I've left that one on the desktop because it is our most used app.  Both girls love coloring with it and it updates the coloring sheets for the changing seasons.  I think this app is free and is on my must have list.

There you have it - an in-depth looks at what is on Emma's iPad.  I've underlined the apps that I'd put on my Top 10 list and many of them are free or a very good value for your money.  We were able to use many of the iTunes gift cards Emma received to buy them, so if you have an iPad and want to buy some apps for your child you might want to let people know that an iTunes card for birthdays and holidays would make for a great gift.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - How we use the iPad for Communication.  I hope to have that post completed shortly.  Let me know if you have any questions on any of the apps we use.

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