Monday, October 22, 2012

31 for 21 Day 22: iPad Apps for Language and Literacy

Our October Literacy Launch Pad meeting was about ways we can use the iPad or iPhone to support our kids as they are learning to communicate and read.  We shared some of our favorite apps, and discussed how to use this technology wisely.

I found these very sensible tips from the  Oregon Division for Early Childhood (Oregon DEC):

·         Provide children with an abundance of opportunities to learn conceptsthrough sensory experiences, movement and by exploring toys, objects, materialsand theirenvironment.TechnologyshouldNEVER totally replace opportunitiesfor activeengagementunlessthechildisunabletoexploreontheirownbecause of his/her disability.
·         Some children are especially engaged with iOS devices because apps arevisually engagingand featuremusicand novelexperiences. Other
·         Selectappsthatfeaturethechild’sareaofinterest (trains, animals,coloring,etc.).
·         Createopportunities forchildren toplay with the iPadbesideorwithotherchildren.
·         Limit the amount of time young children are allowed toplaywithiPadstoshort periods of time (10‐15 minutes at a time). Play together withyourchildtoteachjointattention, expressiveandreceptivelanguage, literacyandnumeracyconcepts, socialskillsandotherneededskills.

·         WhenusingiOS devicesforthepurposeofassistivetechnology, considerthe child’sneedforassistivetechnologybylookingatthechild’sskillsandneeds, thedemands of theenvironment, tasks to beaccomplishedand other toolsavailable. Begin with low‐tech solutions (such as object and pictureschedules, simpleAACdevices, etc.). Ifachildismoreproficientusingalow‐tech system  than an iOS device, then the low‐tech system is the preferredsystem. Don’tbefooledbytheexcitement of new technology)
·         When using iOS devices for AAC with very young children, assess the child’s receptive understanding of words, understanding of two dimensional picture representation, ability to choose between multiple pictures presented, size of pictures needed as well as portability and accessibility of the device.
·         Personalize your child’s stories and favorite apps with familiar pictures (such as favorite toys, family members,  friends,  etc.)  Teach skills through social stories.
Since iOS devices are so portable and accessible, remember to protect your device with protective cases.

These are all good things to keep in mind before you hand that iPad over to your preschooler!

Turning it into snuggle time with Daddy. 

Here are a few simple tips for childproofing your device to avoid a lot of frustration:

·    Disable the home button
o   Bubcap ($6.99 on
o   Use a large binder clip
·         Childproof covers (Otterbox, Gripcase)
·         Make a folder for the child’s own apps:
o   Hold down an app until they all “jiggle”
o   Drag one app on top of another
o   Name the folder
o   Then  you can drag other apps into the new folder

Anthony can choose an app from his folder.

Here are some of our favorite apps:

Special Stories (for making homemade books, social stories)
Little Reader from Brill Kids (flashcards; see Brill Kids website for tips on use)
Starfall (alphabet, phonics)
Peek-a-boo barn/Peek-a-boo wild (Animal sounds, words, learning to navigate, easy, fun, good for younger
kids too)
Special Words (Reading program from Down Syndrome Education International; can add your own words
and phrases)
Also see for a great list of other apps, and links to still more lists.

There are so many out there, it's almost impossible to narrow them down into a manageable list.  An app that
holds the attention of one child might seem completely boring to another.  It's a matter of finding out what fits
best for the individual child.

We plan to continue to share our own app finds and update this list periodically, so check back!

And most importantly, if it's not fun, don't do it!

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