Monday, September 02, 2013

25 iPad apps (set #1) for children with special needs: developmental level K-1

SET #1, apps 1-5

Here are 25 teaching apps and 19 story book apps that I've just installed for my 7 yr old daughter with Down syndrome and my 4 yr old typically developing daughter.

My criteria is pretty straight forward, but somewhat 'strict' as well.  I downloaded close to 80 apps one night, searching through "the best of the best" of the new teaching, learning, developing, reviewed, loved, etc... app lists.  I'm sure there are many more that I've not discovered, or that I overlooked for some reason or another but that would do well.  I initially look at FREE apps, but if there is a good enough 'review' of an app, then I am willing to put in a few dollars to get it when I really feel it meets my criteria.  Prices are forever changing, so some that I list as having downloaded "free" may now have an associated cost, or the cost may have changed.

Here is my criteria for downloading AND KEEPING an app:

  • Low or no cost
  • a bonus if it's made by a company that is known for education, but some great ones are 'no-names'
    • ie: McGraw-Hill, Lakeshore, Starfall, and BOB books
  • There are no written instructions that are not also verbal.
  • There are no ad pop ups to navigate through
  • There is a pretty obvious "play" button, if anything, to begin the game
  • If it is personalized per player, a bonus if it has at least 3 name slots 
  • If there is a voice, it doesn't sound digital and it is easy to understand
  • The game teaches something and is engaging (yes, this is toward the end of the list, because you have to make it through all the stuff above this to even get TO the game!)
I'm going to 'clump' a little, so these are numbered for the sake of you being able to find your way through, NOT in any "GRADED" order!  When multiple apps are made by the same developer, I'm clumping them together, and just working through my list :).


1.  Telling Time- Digital Clock by PhotoTouch 
(iPhone and iPad)  look for other apps by searching "Grasshopper Apps.com"
FREE




The idea of this game is it shows clocks, and it speaks the time.  The child then chooses the correct clock that shows that time.  The child is rewarded with a verbal rewarding voice for correct answers.  For incorrect answers, the 'automatic' response is a "wrong" 2-pitch sound. (Both the success and error sounds can be turned off in settings.)

The entire series of apps by Grasshopper Apps, and specifically the PhotoTouch series are very similar in their layout.  It begins with anywhere from 1 item up to 10.  You can set how many items show initially and how many it increases to.  This game will increase and decrease the number of images shown based on success levels.  For instance after a few successes with 3 choices, it will increase to 4, then more successes, and increase to 5.  After several at 5 that are incorrect, it will go back down to 4 choices (this occurs in future problems... none change during the question phase).  It will work all the way down to the minimum (that you can set- auto set is 3) and up to the max (you can also set this, auto set is 10).  You can also choose to show a 'hint' or not.  For the time app the 'hint' is the time being written on the top of the screen in the center, in small numbers.  Then you match it to the type of clock that you've chosen to show.  

This app is ALL DIGITAL clocks, and you can choose which 5-minute increments that you want it to show.  For beginners, you can make it only FULL HOUR ( 3:00 ).  You can choose to turn 'on' or 'off' each 5 minute increment independently, for instance you can choose 00, 15, 30, and 45, or you can choose to only do the 'less heard' times of 05, 10, 20, 25, etc.

This is a VERY customizable app, and you can RECORD YOUR OWN VOICE saying each time if you would like to.  You can even choose your own clock pictures to replace their digital clocks.  

This app opens to the "home" screen, saying "phototouch" and Telling Time, and one of the downfalls to this intro screen is the link in the bottom left corner with a plus sign and "More apps".  If we want more apps... we'll go to iTunes and download them (and I have), however I don't really like that my kids might click that instead of the large blue "Play!" button on the bottom right corner and get sidetracked instead of playing the game.  A benefit on this home screen, however, is the little "settings" square in the top right corner.  It's out of the way, but available. 

If at any time you exit the game then reenter, it 'saves your place' during the duration of that 'open' period (to close a game, double click the 'home' button when you're not in that game, and hit the 'minus' button on the game.  This doesn't delete the game like the "x" button does on the home screen, but rather it closes that session). This is great if someone else (or the child!) presses the button and exits the game, or mom needs to borrow the iPad.

*Note: there is another app with analog clocks that is currently $0.99 at this link:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/telling-time-photo-touch-game/id442399018?mt=8
There is also a "little matchups" game (see #2 below) is also available for FREE at this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tell-time-little-matchups/id440944851?mt=8#



2.  Count Money by little matchups 
(iPhone and iPad)  look for other apps by searching "Grasshopper Apps.com"
FREE

The idea of this game is it shows images on the left and right, and you match the corresponding money with its counterpart.  It speaks the amount of money shown (9 cents) any time a picture is tapped, helping children to 'add' the money if they don't already know (this can be turned on or off and customized in settings).  There is a 'boing' error sound if incorrect, and a verbal praise when correct.  (Both the success and error sounds can be turned off in settings.)

The entire series of apps by Grasshopper Apps, and particularly within each category (such as little matchups) are very similar in their layout.  This begins with anywhere from 1 item up to 8 that will show on the screen at once.  You can set how many items show initially and how many it increases to.  This game will increase and decrease the number of images shown based on success levels.  For instance after a few successes with 3 choices, it will increase to 4, then more successes, and increase to 5.  After several at 5 that are incorrect, it will go back down to 4 choices (this occurs in future problems... none change during the question phase).  It will work all the way down to the minimum (that you can set- auto set is 2) and up to the max (you can also set this, auto set is 3).  You can also choose to show a 'hint' or not.  For the money app the 'hint' is the amount being spoken when you tap each coin set.

This is a very customizable app and you can choose what increments of coins to show, for instance $0.01-0.10 and each increasing ten cent increment up to $0.99.  In addition, you can show "price tags" instead of coin amounts (show a price tag of $0.01-0.10 to match to corresponding coins).  The price tags, in my opinion, are a first task to teach before matching that a dime and two nickels are equal, since it is adding the coin amount and matching it to that number, however it is not the 'automatic' first setting of the game.  For these price tag matches, the coins appear to always be reduced to the fewest coins (for $0.05 it will show one nickel).

This app opens to the "home" screen, saying "phototouch" and Telling Time, and one of the downfalls to this intro screen is the link in the bottom left corner with a plus sign and "More apps".  If we want more apps... we'll go to iTunes and download them (and I have), however I don't really like that my kids might click that instead of the large blue "Play!" button on the bottom right corner and get sidetracked instead of playing the game.  A benefit on this home screen, however, is the little "settings" square in the top right corner.  It's out of the way, but available.

If at any time you exit the game then reenter, it 'saves your place' during the duration of that 'open' period (to close a game, double click the 'home' button when you're not in that game, and hit the 'minus' button on the game.  This doesn't delete the game like the "x" button does on the home screen, but rather it closes that session). This is great if someone else (or the child!) presses the button and exits the game, or mom needs to borrow the iPad.



3.  Starfall Learn to Read
(iPhone and iPad)  look for other apps by searching "Starfall"
$2.99

This app does an excellent job introducing word families through 15 interactive books.  One activity starts with a quick 'tune' about the sounds, and a "sound it out" reading, using "bouncing hands" and "Starfall sparkles" to show the child what to do next.   The animated stories are simple, read aloud by touching the 'ear' image, and entertaining.  They make the kids laugh out loud with the antics of the characters.  Each page turn, then tells the 'practice sound'.  Another activity includes creating the word families used in the book by adding the correct first letter to each picture.  Once a word family is complete, the reward page shows each of the words the child knows, and uses the typical "Starfall sparkles" to show that the arrow is the next thing to touch.  Each book has a different set of activities, some with included short fun videos or a picture hunt, or other interactive games.  Some of the 'additional activities' don't have the best directions, but any activity can be exited by clicking either the 'back' arrow or the red 'x' in the top corner.  An EXCELLENT app for beginning readers, well worth the price!

There's not a whole lot left to say about this app... It's well made, easy to navigate, not much customizing or explaining needed.   One hard spot is on my iPad it takes some time to load (showing a black screen) even when nothing else is open.  I'm not sure if this is specific to my install or something in general with the game.

Like most other apps that I kept around, at any time you exit the game then reenter, it 'saves your place' during the duration of that 'open' period (to close a game, double click the 'home' button when you're not in that game, and hit the 'minus' button on the game.  This doesn't delete the game like the "x" button does on the home screen, but rather it closes that session). This is great if someone else (or the child!) presses the button and exits the game, or mom needs to borrow the iPad.  You can resume where you are.


4. Monkey WordSchool Adventure
(MonkeyWord) by THUP Games
(iPhone and iPad)  
$1.99
 

This engaging and fast-spoken game with energetic music (which can be turned off) is part of a series of games starting with Monkey LunchBox for early math, then Monkey Math for Kindergarten level math.  This app is my newest find in the series and the neat graphics, engaging voices, and encouraging phrases keep my kids coming back.  This game keeps a 'prize' box for each user, and at the entry you select the child's name (3 name places are provided).  There is so much in this game that is able to be customized in settings (which you have to hold for several seconds to access and that is written when you tap it...).  You can also select 'knack' which will automatically adjust the challenge of each game as the child plays. A variety of different games all mixed up with rewards for completing them correctly... kids like it AND learn from it!

The games include the ability to turn each type of activity on or off as you desire (and all of this is per-user).  You can also select level 1 2 or 3 for each game including "Letter Writing," Spelling Stone," "Word Wall," "Sight Birds," "Phonics Bridge," and "Rhyming Maze".  

The "Knack" (described above) I turn off for my children with special needs that need a lot of repetition, so that it doesn't increase past their ability to have some success.  For my 'typical' kids I allow it to progress.  You can adjust it per user (3 users). Like most other apps that I kept around, at any time you exit the game then reenter, it 'saves your place' during the duration of that 'open' period (to close a game, double click the 'home' button when you're not in that game, and hit the 'minus' button on the game.  This doesn't delete the game like the "x" button does on the home screen, but rather it closes that session). This is great if someone else (or the child!) presses the button and exits the game, or mom needs to borrow the iPad.  You can resume where you are.


5. Monkey Math School Sunshine
(MonkeyMath) by THUP Games
(iPhone and iPad)  
$1.99

 


Another engaging app with the friendly monkey, and one that I found before the "Monkey Word" app, but one we are on the verge of outgrowing, so I didn't even see it on my list until I was skimming looking for the next app to review.  I kept this around because even as a review, this app is a lot of fun and continues the learning process by reinforcing.  Originally, though, it taught VERY well!  This is a great app for kindergarten learners and sets up 'sets', addition, and subtraction, shapes, patterning, and a fun aquarium that you fill with fish as you 'earn' the prizes.  The energetic monkey and fun voices (and music you can opt to turn off) make this app one that the kids enjoy and keep coming back to!

This app, as I said about the previous, is able to be customized with 3 levels of play under each type of activity and you can turn each activity on or off.  Activities include "Add/Subtract," "Number Pop," "Connect the Dots," "Number Order," "Shapes," "Patterns," "Less/More," and "Number Writing."  This app also has the option of selecting to allow it to automatically adjust the challenge of each game as the child plays, called "knack."  I leave this on for the kids that have had a lot of success in the game, and turn it off for newer learners that I don't want to be advanced past their "fail point" then taken back down.  

Unfortunately, this game starts back at the home screen each time you press the button, HOWEVER, since it isn't exactly a 'building' game, and the activities are each quick and short, you can select the right player and be right back in the game without feeling like the child is having to really "start over."


More app reviews to come! :)

2 comments:

  1. cant wait to see what else you have, im going to check out the time and money one now

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing. I just installed three of these for my grandchildren. Can't wait for the next five.

    ReplyDelete