Thursday, November 29, 2012

iPad apps – Winter 2012 :)

Looks like it’s time to update the list of GOOD vs GREAT apps for the iPad!  I did a series of posts back when we first got the iPad and everything was brand new, but since that time we’ve “invested” in a few very worthwhile apps and have pushed many of the ‘fun but useless’ apps out to the curb in hopes of getting more LEARNING time out of the iPad!

First off, though, let me share about this wonderful NEW thing that the folks at Apple have added to the newest IOS update.  GUIDED ACCESS.  Yes, if you know what this is, you’re probably already jumping up and down saying “I’m so glad!!!” and if you don’t already know about it, well, I’ll get to the point! :)  Under Settings go to the “general” section on the left side then select “accessibility”.

Here there are many NEW settings including a “learning” section.  Under learning it says “Guided Access”.  This setting allows you to triple click the home button and LOCK the iPad in to a specific app!  This means that that app you turned on for your 3 or 10 or hey, 17 yr old, will STAY on unless they 1)learn your code and can input it properly (4 digit “unlock” code that you set!) or 2) they learn this next thing that I’m going to tell you.

I love guided access and it gives more independence to using the iPad for learning, because when I walk away I know the kids haven’t switched over to Pandora and made themselves a new Phineas and Ferb music station.  Yes, it’s happened.  However, one night as I was turning on the guided access so that my daughter would be STUCK doing her school work when she turned it on in the morning (hahahaha…), I actually, truly, got it STUCK.  As in, the home button stopped working.  At all.  I tried powering the iPad off and that didn’t work either.  The little note saying “triple click…” blah blah came up, but my triple click did nothing.  So, google helped me and holding down BOTH the power and the home buttons for a few seconds ultimately powered-down the iPad and I was able to turn off guided access upon rebooting.  *sigh*.  Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often (that was the first time after about a dozen uses of guided access…).

Another neat new feature is the Hyperlink feature!  Kristopher’s teacher updates the website DAILY and puts his homework online.  Awesome feature.  But aside from navigating there regularly, I didn’t just “see” it.  Now, you can go in to Safari and click the little box with an arrow coming out of it at the top near the address bar.  Click “Add to home screen” and it will create an icon on the iPad that will bring you directly to that website.  Awesomely handy for my 8 yr old to look up his homework daily! :)

ABC Wee Sing:  I think this is Lynae and Brianna’s favorite app!  It has an option to explore the ABC’s with letters and saying their letter name.  You also explore animals where each animal is drawn (cartoon style) with a musical instrument, and the letter they start with- one for each letter of the alphabet.  Clicking the letter or the animal or instrument will tell you the name and sound of that item for instance, click the letter “A” and it says “A, the alligator plays the accordion”.  Click the “instrument” circle and it plays a sample of what the accordion sounds like.  Click the “animal” circle and you hear what an alligator sounds like!  This is pretty interesting when you get to Yetta the Yak playing the Yuachin (sp?).  Cool to hear what that sounds like!

This last part is actually my kids’ favorite!  It’s the ABC song… however… it’s available to play several ways.  It can just play it and you listen, and it shows musical notes dancing by each letter as it’s sung.  The fun way is to “play along” and it brings up the alphabet and says “press go to begin”.  Then, it plays the music and YOU select the letters (they are displayed in order) and try to put them at the appropriate places in the music.  Each letter is “sung” so it will fit correctly together in the music.  For some reason, this is a challenge and a big HIT with the girls!

Monkey math:  This is still one of MY favorites, and teaches kindergarten level math skills such as patterning, numbers,  adding, subtracting, and gives ‘prizes’ for skills that are reached.  Brianna loved it last year and now it’s appropriate for Lynae’s learning level!

Special Words: This is the most money I’ve spent on an app (over $10, I believe maybe it was $13?) but it was WELL worth it.  This was designed by the group Down Syndrome Education International.  It is the “See and Learn” program on an iPad!  You choose to match pictures of objects to pictures, or words to pictures, or pictures to words, or words to words!  It is customizable as well to add in your own pictures and words as well.  This gets your kids READING!! :)  (this is an app I frequently “lock” the iPad on to with the Guided access feature!)

Special Numbers: I admit, I purchased this because of my high hopes since I really like Special Words.  I haven’t spent nearly as much time on it however it is similarly customizable and works on counting, matching numbers, number order, same/different, how many, and more.  I am looking forward to exploring this one more, and again… it was similar cost to the first but one that I believe to be a good investment since I know the research and design that went in to the whole program!

Clean Up: This app is still one of Brianna’s favorites and it helps a child with making categories.  This was redesigned after we originally bought it an now shows instructions at the beginning and “how to” play.  There is a shopping cart, toy box, and closet picture and an item is shown at the top.  You drag and drop in to one of the three pictures to categorize it. Quick moving if the child wants it to be, and the instructions have about a 3 second delay then repeat. “where do the pajamas go?” (wait 3 seconds and repeat).  It can get annoying if a child walks away from it, but if they need reminders of what they’re doing, it’s great! :). 
These are just a few of the kids’ favorites.  My great plan is to get more of our favorites posted again over the next days, so we’ll see how well that happens! :)  For more app reviews go to

1 comment:

  1. Matthew loves the ABC Wee Sing app too. As you know we are constantly on the hunt for new apps to keep him excited and motivated. This morning when I was dropping him off at school, his OT gave me a list of apps she is using with him at school and a website to check for more ABA receptive classification apps.