Thursday, September 05, 2013

25 iPad apps (set #4) for children with special needs: developmental level K-1

SET #4, apps 18-22

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

View Set #1 (and my criteria for "keeping" an app for my kids!) HERE:
Set #2
Set #3

18. Kid Vision VPK (KidvisionVPK)
by Community Television Foundation of South Florida, Inc.
(iPhone and iPad)  
Ok, here's one most people have never heard of and wouldn't unless it was brought up by someone else... One that I've only come across once, and that was on an intentional Search!  KidVision VPK is a public school VPK program made to go on "virtual field trips" with preK classes.  This ended up being a growing database, and there are now FORTY different 'field trips' your child can go on.  Each has a "Watch" "Quiz" and "Learn" section.  Each video is between 6 and 10 minutes long and each quiz has 3 questions.  The "Learn" section is a formal lesson plan for an activity linked to that video and concept.  My girls just love watching the videos, but the questions are excellent follow-up, and the easy going "field trip" format means the kids get some of the educational side of things at the same time that they're pretty sure they've "tricked me in to" watching TV!

The lesson plans aren't anything I've used, but they are generally a simple activity like a recycling poster after "going to the recycling center."  The quizzes do NOT read the questions or answers aloud, so they are pretty pointless for non-readers without an adult nearby, but let's face it... the kids launch the app and click their desired 'trip' then click the 'tv' button.  This is an app we've had around for a while, and as they've added so many new 'trips,' I can see that the kids will continue enjoying it for some time still.

19. Dora ABCs Vol 2: Rhyming Words HD (Dora Rhyme)
by Nickelodeon
(iPhone and iPad)  
This is a simple game with four levels that teaches rhyming words, first or last sounds, and inside sounds.  I'll explain it using rhyming words.  You play with the Troll that gives riddles to go through the game.  Dora and Boots enjoy collecting tokens by rhyming words together.  An image is in the center with others circling around it.  Only one of the circling words will rhyme.  When you touch any of the items, their name is spoken.  This is a great way to add repetition to the sounds.  If you get it wrong, the picture simply goes back in to the outside rotation rather than stopping the game.  This is fun because of the common characters, and the way it teaches rhyming is engaging.  

Though there are multiple levels, each time the child signs in to play, they choose a level.  This means that if they choose something too hard, they may not be able to actually play the game. It's unfortunate that you cannot "lock in" one or another.  One of the choices is 'inside sounds' which is a more advanced skill than first, last, or rhyming words.

In a sense, since it's easy to get in to the game and choose an adventure difficulty that the child isn't capable of, maybe it's a good thing that when you press the button it restarts at the beginning? 

This game also has 4 user names you can put in, and you can view a 'report card' for each child which reports on each of the different game play areas (rhyming, for instance).  It is helpful to see what area your child is trying to use, and how successful they are at it!

Overall, this is a great game and teaches a set of concepts that a lot of kids with special needs struggle with learning, so it's a much needed app, and with a friendly voice and face that the kids already know and love!

This is the second volume out of 3.  The first is Skywriting ABC's and the third is reviewed below.

20. Dora ABCs Vol 3: Ready to Read HD (Dora Rhyme)
by Nickelodeon
(iPhone and iPad)  
Another app with a price tag, but another that's worth it.  You're not going to find the popular characters in a full length and well researched game without a price tag to go along, but this is another that we recently found and my girls have already played their $5 worth.  This is the 3rd in the Dora ABCs series, and one working on reading phonics.  This works through levels of reading a word and putting a picture with it, and adding a different first letter to that word to make another (Cap- map).  Touching each letter or picture will make the phonetic sound, so you can 'sound out' the entire words as well.  There are little 'mini games' with frogs between the phonics, but you can skip those as well if desired.  

Another fun and engaging Dora app which solidifies one concept- beginning letter sounds! I especially like that it teaches with word families, using two at a time to teach ending and beginning sounds, introducing more rhyming at the same time.  

If you play every game that you can play between each word set, this game play could take a VERY long time!  Unfortunately, this also is disappointing because even as the third in this series of Dora ABC's, there is still the issue that every time you press the 'home' button, the game restarts at the beginning.  This is especially disturbing when the game has a definitive beginning and end, like this one does, and it takes some time to complete.

Overall, the characters are ones the kids already know and love, the game is educational and fun, and the kids have already proven that it is worth the money!

21. TeachMe: Kindergarten (Kindergarten)
by 24x7 digital LLC
This app is one we've been using for two years and it's probably time to move to TeachMe: 1st Grade, but the girls are still learning and enjoying and growing.  As the photos show, this uses a "bin" for adding and subtracting then has a number bank to choose from.  It gives audible words for the Dolch sight words lists, and has missing first letters, etc for spelling.  It is a great app that covers four basic starting points and increases in difficulty as the child learns as well as keeping separate profiles for different users.

This app doesn't have the most engaging voices, and isn't one that is animated and "fun" to just sit and play, HOWEVER, it teaches and tracks things in a GREAT way and it's not always about the bells and whistles!  I love this app for the way it teaches in concrete ways, and I frequently engage "guided access" and let the girls have the iPad in order to work through some skills in this app.  They still enjoy it, and as I said above, it's probably time to fork over another $1.99 to get the First Grade version of this app so the girls can keep on learning!

This app is easily customized.  You can turn each of the 4 main teaching areas (such as subtraction, for instance) on or off.  You can also change their levels in each section.  There is a very detailed info screen about each section including the child's current level, the total number of questions, the number of learned and unlearned as well as disabled questions.  Then the number of times a child must get a question right for it to be considered 'learned', the number of active questions and number of review questions that are included, and whether or not to allow a 'tap' to count.

This is a well made app with a lot of things to 'report back' to the parent and is fun, without the 'bells and whistles' of the known cartoon characters, but with the added bonus of a focus on great academics!

You can use this app for up to FORTY players, so it would also be great for school use.

22. Todo K-2 Math Practice (Todo Math)
by Locomotive Laps
(iPhone and iPad)  
This app was more than I expected!  Initially getting in to the activity and choosing both the activity and level was slightly difficult, and wouldn't be easily navigated by a child, however the ability to either drag and drop the number OR write it on the lines (then 'confirm' that that was the intended number by clicking on the suggested answer based on your drawing (see second image, you 'click' the 12 when finished), this is a neat way to either work on writing skills with math, or to work just on the math.  There are "quick facts" (second image above) with addition and subtraction on 7 kindergarten levels as well as 9 first and 9 second grade leveled question sets.  "Falling blocks" has 7 kindergarten, 9 first grade, and 2 second grade levels.  It creates ten-frames to help visually (can use the ten frames to count) as well as the addition problem.  All of the areas of this game use the same right-hand area where you either begin writing (and the numbers disappear, then the 'clear' and suggested number pop up) OR you begin dragging a number down to the 'writing' space, and it shows either 1 or 2 'digit boxes' for the numbers to go in to.

Again, I was surprised!  There are videos throughout to explain how to use this app before each section, and then... there is even a 6, 8, 10 minute TIMED PRACTICE for Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade.  It shows the areas ahead of time that will be done (such as tracing, falling blocks, tallies, and cookies-- four of the activities included) and you press the "start" button!  Tracing shows bouncing balls and you trace the number off to the side.  You cannot 'fail' as the arrow will only follow the tracing block.  You can also click the bouncing balls and they will 'count' aloud to the tracing number.  You're rewarded on this timed trial when you finish writing to 10!  Each activity takes 2 minutes, to do the complete 8 minutes.  Some activities will continue 'creating data' to stretch it to the 2:00 mark!

This game is a lot of fun, has some calm music, gentle images with solid clean lines and is a lot of fun!  I wish it was just a little easier to navigate the levels and such, but in all, it's such a fun and educational way of working, I don't mind doing some of the leg-work to get the kids in to the right area.  Of course when they get to this program on their own, they just 'mess around' with it, but with some guidance it is a really GREAT app!

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