Tuesday, July 16, 2013

great ipad apps for special needs!

one thing that i got a lot of questions and feedback on when we were in the hospital with rowan, was ipad apps. a friend had purchased her a ipad mini to get her though the long boring days spent cooped up in a bed, especially before she got off isolation. at first i went to the internets for advice and suggestions and was met with a ton of really good information. one thing i didn't find? good solid posts or articles with lists of apps for her specific type of handicap. it was my friends on social networks that provided the most insight. the ipad became such a huge part of our day to day - not just for games, but education opportunities and even a way to communicate when rowan couldn't.

when we got to children's we were lucky enough to be paired with a ipad expert who lent rowan a full size ipad, easier for her limited motor control, through the bungie foundation. she checked in with us a couple times a week to see if we needed any apps added or had questions on the ones we were playing or show us some new ones she thought would be good for rowans new state of recovery. she was such a blessing and even gave rowan a itunes gift card so that she could download some of the more expensive apps and books that she loved onto her own ipad. at one point toca boca even saw a picture on instagram of rowan playing one of their apps, tea party, and offered to send her some fun treats from their company in sweden! i'll go ahed a preface this whole post with the statement that toca boca is hands down our favorite app developer for the kids!

really these apps are great for all kids! i just wanted to breakdown what has worked best for us to limit frustration, engage rowan when she is antsy and distracted, and bring her joy when she is limited on the physical activity she can do from day to day. one of the biggest things for us was when her ipad starting engaging her to talk back to some apps and we started to hear clear, intelligible talking. rowan is five and stella is three and they both can play all the games listed below easily and have tons of fun!

*assume that everything listed below involves very little precise movement and large fields of play. rowan had very little control of the direction of her finger movement let alone much spacial recognition. apps that required exact touching and a strong hold on items as you moved them had to be deleted because they were very frustrating for her. as she progressed some of those apps were reintroduced, but i will make sure to mention when i am talking about a slightly more "involved" app. these also are all played on the ipad, however many work on my iphone as well.

little red riding hood by nosy crow - tons of interactive touch points, animated characters, a non-linear story where you decide from many paths/outcomes. games and activities all through out that require limited motor control. this app wasn't super picky about rowan's finger control and she could operate it fully when she was still very limited.

fancy nancy and the late, late, LATE night - one of our favorite fancy nancy books in an interactive app app! this was great for when rowan needed to settle down, she could have the app read the book to her while she was in control of turning the pages. $2.99

the monster at the end of this book - this app has me so excited! this was my favorite book growing up so it has been a fav since we found it. it is the classic story but you do all of the work - breaking down grover's barriers, turning the pages, and some other fun interactive things from page to page. this was another app that rowan could operate at her least mobile. in fact before she could use her arms again, she could interact with this book using her toe and heel! $4.99

sounding board - a communication board. totally customizable using your own photos or ones provided, then you record your voice saying the work so when pushed that is what the user hears. perfect for children in special education, kids on the autism spectrum, and kids or adults with disabilities. for rowan we we took photos of everything we could think of like bathroom, bed, art supplies, ipad, tv, etc. she was able to flip through her boards to find what she needed easily.

visual timer - a large and colorful countdown timer for kids. this was imperative for rowan when she was faced with a rehab activity that she wasn't fond of. it was a fun and very visual way to show her how long she had left so that she was in more control of the activity.

my playhome - " even a two year old could use it, yet detailed enough to entertain an 8 year old." one of the most fun and detailed apps i have seen for kids. you are in control of hundreds of items all through out several rooms of your house. switch out the family member, have them jump on the bed, or drop toilet paper rolls into the toilet like rowan likes to do. some of the tinier items were more difficult for rowan at first but this app is forgiving, when she would "drop" a item it would fall where it stood, not go back to the start, which could be very frustrating to rowan. $3.99

toca doctor - treat ailments, play doctor, and solve problems with this eye catching app. again, a sucker for toca apps this one was fun for the "patient" to play doctor while cooped up at the hospital. easy to use with limited fine motor control with easy to understand and follow directions. $2.99

*pepi tree - this is hands down one of the cutest apps ever! it is a fun way to discover animals in their natural habitat. rowan was limited on this game till she had better fine motor back, some of the parts of the tree were a little more difficult if you don't have a quick or steady hand. $1.99

pepi bath - get ready to giggle when they use the potty! a role-play game where you can learn about hygiene in a fun way. wash their hands, give them a bath, and do their laundry. rowan had no problem navigating this app with limited control and pointer direction. it even gave her a good laugh! $1.99

*disney: all of these apps got easier when rowan was doing a lot better. she had better directional control of her pointer and could hold it much steadier. these are some of our favorites just becasue they are fun!
doc mcstuffins - "based on the hit disney Junior show doc mcstuffins, join doc, along with hallie, lambie and the rest of her friends for a fun-filled time fixing, sorting, exploring and caring for toys, dolls and more. inside doc’s clinic you can choose from four entertaining and engaging developmental activities." $3.99

sofia the first - "meet sofia and get ready to play with her and her friends. an official app from disney!read the story and tap on the images to discover beautiful animations, play with the royal theater and record your own stories" $1.99

jake and the neverland's pirate school - "ahoy and welcome to Pirate School, matey! join jake and crew for four fun-filled pirate themed classes and earn badges of honor and an official never land pirate certificate." free

toy story - a read along! free

my penguin - "the popular virtual world of Club Penguin comes alive on the go!" free

music and creativity:
little fox music box by fox & sheep - very visially rewarding and fun! a sing-a-long apps with hundreds of interactive touch points. tons of options, this app keeps you entertained for a while. music was huge in rowan's speech recovery, anything that spurred spontaneous talking, like easy songs she recognized was huge for her. $2.99

toca band - create a band by playing with different sounds that you like. this app is very visually stimulating as well as a creative outlet. rowan had no issues operating this app and it brought her a ton of joy! $2.99

sequencing or multiple step directions:
hair salon - you get to run your own hair salon and come up with some wacky style! rowan was almost always able to play this app, even with limited control and direction with her finger she could create some laughable styles of her own. $2.99

*toca tailor - create any kind of look using tons of fabrics, accessories, and styles. you can even take photos of something to you as a fabric. while rowan could do this app still pretty limited she wasn't able to fully use it's features and fun until she was a little steadier with her finger. $2.99

*ultimate easy bake oven - this app is great for your little baker and creator. rowan tried this when she was still early in her recovery and it was very picky and precise on where you put your finger. we had to delete it till she was a little more exact with her touch because it became very frustrating. free

letters, reading, vocabulary, and writing:
endless alphabet - spelling lessons, puzzles, and fun monsters helping with word definitions. $4.99

interactive alphabet - this was one of the first games rowan could easily on her own when she was at her most limited state. you control the app with simple, un specific, touching of a few items per letter. it brought her a lot of joy to be able to operate a app she was familiar with when her body wasn't quit doing what she wanted. $2.99

martha speaks word spinner - "gather the family for the ultimate party game – with a distinctly martha twist! up to four players can join in the fun, with six interactive mini-games that both kids and parents can enjoy together. players select their game piece from their favorite dog characters from the martha speaks television series and then the adventure begins. along the way to the finish, players will encounter more than 100 vocabulary words like colorful, scientist, and nutritious while building their storytelling and oral vocabulary skills." we loved this game because it forced rowan to be social outside of having her face buried in the ipad. it helped her practice some basic preschool activities that she was missing out on being in the hospital. $1.99

monkey math school - in a beach setting do simple counting, sequencing, and recognition. this was a great app for rowan to keep her sharp and gage her mental abilities when she was first coming back to us. she had no problem operating this app and following the simple and clear commands. $1.99

monkey lunchbox - $0.99

grandma's kitchen - have some creative play or bake up compound words, watch real videos and help grandma in the kitchen. motor wise this game was fine for rowan, however since she can't read or really understand compound words at first, i had to play this app with her. $1.99

grandma's garden - practice numbers, letters, shapes, and colors while playing mini games in the garden. $1.99 

grandpa's workshop - earn parts to build your own playhouse by helping complete some tasks in the workshop. rowan struggled with some puzzle like games, getting the pieces to go where she wanted. $1.99

agnitus - more then twenty-two education games based on core standards ad mom and dad even get to see a report card of progress in the app. rowan managed this app fine from the beginning  i liked it because it challenged her to refresh on everything she learned in school that year and helped us gage where she was intellegence wise once she started to come back to us. Free

disney appisodes - full length episodes of your favorite disney junior shows that are totally interactive! this app wasn't necessarily made for "talking" but there are parts that involve telling the characters directions or rotting them on or repeating what they say and etc. it wasn't picky about rowan being exact since obviously her speech is hard to understand at this point so it wasn't frustrating when she couldn't get the exact word out. comes with one appisode free, other appisodes are available as in-app purchases for $$

talking ginger - ginger repeats what you say to her! give her a bath, take her potty, brush her teeth or have fun unrolling the toilet paper with her. this app was great to entice rowan to talk, she loved hearing her voice repeated by ginger. free

play with a friend:
toca tea party - host your own tea party by picking everything from the table cloth to the cakes. invite a friend to play along while you listen to tunes, sip coffee, and then help do the dishes. then do it all over again! very simple motions  involved. this was a great games because while rowan wanted her face buried in the ipad it gave us a chance to talk and giggle and interact while doing it. she loved taking it to her friends rooms and asking them to join in too! $2.99

toca birthday party - similar to the tea party but this time you even get to pick a gift. rowan likes to grab her dollies and help them stuff their faces with cake then open the suprise gift she picked for them! $2.99

toca store - this is probably one of hands down favorite toca apps. first you choose from a huge catalog what you want to sell in your store then you invite a friend over to the ipad to go shopping. they fill up their basket then place the items at checkout telling you how many they want. it give you and them plenty of counting opportunities as well as getting to know money. they put the stuff in their bag and are on their way! $2.99

magic fingers - this was probably the least involved app and it brought rowan tons of joy and creativity. it was developed by a friend of the family so it was fun when we would see other kids around the hospital playing it! with just the simple touch of of the finger, you choose from tons of options to decorate your screen with animations like fire, sparkles, etc all the while classical music plays in the background. $1.99