Archive for the ‘Apps and Technology’ Category

Apps We Love – Jump Jump Froggy

jump jump froggy

Why We Love It: This app is designed to get children moving. One of the activities requires your child to hold the mobile device and jump (a protective case may be useful!). As your child jumps, the frog on the screen jumps to catch yummy bugs as they pass by. This game can be played with a single frog, or as a head to head battle if you have two devices with the app installed. Jump Jump Froggy also includes modes to complete pushups with ants or sit-ups with a snake. This app is free and could use some improvements in the pushup and sit-up portions, but hopefully the developers will continue to release updates.  All of these exercises will encourage your child to participate in proprioceptive activities which are beneficial for calming and regulation. This app is also appropriate for children who need to improve their strength and endurance and may not be motivated to simply complete exercises for the sake of exercising.

Why the Kids Love It: The frog is colorful and engaging and provides huge motivation to keep moving and the option to compete against a peer has been a hit. The app has one song that plays while the frog jumps, or you can tie in to your music from iTunes.

Available from iTunes FREE

Apps We Love: Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

App Name: Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

Why We Love It:

This beautifully designed app helps children learn to use deep breathing strategies to self calm. The app introduces a Sesame Street monster who faces real life scenarios such as having trouble tying his shoes or impatiently waiting in line. The narration uses a variety of words to describe the emotions and makes observations about the monster’s body language as well. The focus of the app is to teach the child to take three deep breaths, then think of multiple solutions to the problem at hand. The child chooses one of the options and the monster acts out the solution. The language is simple and the steps are repeated to help reinforce the lesson.   The animation is high quality and visually engaging. We love that the monster comes up with more than one possible plan, however, one scenario involves asking a teacher for a hug, which may not be appropriate in a school setting. Overall though, this app is a powerful tool for teaching an important skill.

breathe think do

Why Kids Love It:

The animations are clear and beautifully presented which keeps the kids visually engaged. Also, while the monster is “thinking”, the child gets to pop bubbles which helps keep their attention on the app. Although it is unlikely that your child will independently pick this app to play in their free time, with some guidance from you they can pick up a new skill to help them succeed in day to day activities.

Available: iTunes FREE

Apps We Love: Monkey Drum

App Name: Monkey Drum

Why We Love It:monkey drum

This is yet another adorable and free app that we love. To play, the child taps on a bongo drum or hits keys on a xylophone to make her own rhythm or song. Then the monkey will imitate the exact song the child played. This can be a great tool for children learning cause and effect. We also use this with older children who are working on motor planning and timing. You can tap out a short rhythm, the monkey will imitate it, and then your child can attempt to recreate the same rhythm.

Why Kids Love It:

As you play your song or rhythm, the monkey will smile, clap and dance which engages the children. After a long song, or several shorter ones, a banana falls from the tree and the child can feed it to the monkey. He might launch it into the air or catch it in his mouth. Feeding the monkey bananas earns points to unlock other characters, instruments or accessories.

Available: iTunes FREE or Monkey Drum Deluxe (instruments and characters unlocked) $3.99

Apps We Love: Lil’ Kitten Shopping Cart

App Name: Lil’ Kitten Shopping Cart

Why We Love It:

This adorable app involves a kitten that goes to the grocery store with a list and a budget.  Play begins as the kitten’s mother gives him a list and a specific amount of money. If the kitten can get all of the items with savings left over, he can go to the toy store and pick out a reward. The game addresses many areas, including cognitive processes such as reading the list, recognizing price differences, placing food into categories, and the concept of keeping under a budget. Also addressed are visual perceptual skills, visual memory skills and fine motor skills. The shopping list can be hidden as the cat walks down the aisles, encouraging the child to remember what food item he is looking for. The list is not categorized, which requires the child to carefully scan the entire list for all of the vegetables, meats, etc. Each food item is available at 2-3 price points and there is a sale section as well. The app does all of the math calculations but the challenge could be increased by giving your child a pencil and paper to keep a running total, then compare it to the cashier’s total at the end of the shopping trip. Although there is lively background music, it can be turned off. We have found that children of a wide age range love this app. Younger children benefit from the reading and scanning practice, while older children learn money management, budgeting, and the benefit of using an organized plan in a store.

Why Kids Love It:lil kitten shopping

Children love being able to complete “grown up” tasks. This app allows them to be responsible for money and pick out a toy for the cat. The animations are clear and colorful and the children enjoy the scavenger hunt to find each food item.   Having your child help categorize and locate food items during a real trip to the grocery store is a great way to carry this over into a functional skill.

Available: iTunes FREE

Apps We Love: Super Stretch Yoga

App Name: Super Stretch Yoga

Why We Love It:SuperStretch yoga

This is a great introduction to 12 simple yoga poses. Super Stretch is a yoga superhero who guides the children through each movement. Each pose is described in kid-friendly, positive language, then a video is shown of real children — not actors with perfect form — as they attempt the poses. The sequence moves from alerting movements with head inversion, to organizing movement with flexion and static positions.

Why Kids Love It:

Super Stretch is narrated by a young boy with an energetic voice. The cartoons representing each pose, such as an elephant dipping his trunk in water, are easy to carryover into the movement. The fact that the app developers used children who look and act like peers learning the movements is empowering for children who struggle with balance and coordination.

Available: iTunes FREE, Also available in Spanish

Apps We Love: Combo 101

Why We Love It: Do you have a child heading to middle school next year? This app is a great tool to teach the process of opening a combination lock. The whole purpose of the app is to use a combination lock to open a locker or safe. Initially, the combination is set up with numbers that are simple to locate on the dial. Then the child works up to locating harder digits. Although a real combination lock is a bit easier to turn, the option to simplify the combination helps keep the kids from becoming overwhelmed and giving up.

combo 101

Why Kids Love It: Middle school is a big change for our kids at the clinic, and they seem to get a real sense of pride about mastering the art of combination locks. The app uses a timer to track how long it took to open the lock, so the kids can try to beat their best score. The timer is not visible on the screen during the unlocking process, so there is no distraction or sense of pressure for the task. To keep the kids engaged in what can be a tedious practice, there is an option to place a picture from your device’s camera roll on the inside of the locker as a surprise and motivator.

Available iTunes Store $0.99

Apps We Love: Little Finder

Why We Love It: Little Finder is a more structured take on classic hidden picture activities. The images are presented in a grid, ranging from 2×2 to 7×8, and a friendly voice calls out the name of an image for the child to locate. If the child takes more than 5 seconds to click on the item, it begins to subtly bounce to provide a visual cue. Points are awarded for the speed of finding each item. The game can be set for 1 minute, 2 minutes or an untimed “zen” mode. The pictures are high quality images of animals, food and household items on a plain white background. As with all of the products from Alligator Apps, the settings provide a wide range of challenges that can be customized for the child such as the level of cues, the option to rotate some of the images for an additional challenge, or even customizing the audio cues for the image.

little finder

Why the Kids Love It: If traditional hidden picture activities are difficult for a child, the additional visual structure of this app is very helpful. Many children who have a hard time focusing on a task for a prolonged period appreciate the short, timed rounds. As always, the ability to earn points and beat the high score is highly motivating. The game can also be played as a two-player head-to-head activity to see who comes out on top.

Available: iTunes FREE

Apps We Love: Mr. Potato Head

App Name: Mr. Potato Head

Why We Love It:

This engaging app brings the classic Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head to life.  The app recently changed its interface and got rid of the need for in-app purchases.  Your child can pick from 26 different outfits and 13 different play scenes.  Just like the real mr potato headMr. Potato Head, your child must choose where to place the body parts to assemble the character.  After the characters are built, your child picks the scene where she can make the Potato Head characters jump, dance and interact with the scenery by pressing buttons on the screen. This app reinforces correct placement of facial features and symmetry in body scheme.  The child can work on finger isolation when dragging and dropping the body parts on to the character.  To practice correct pencil grasp, have your child use a stylus intended for a touch screen device.

Why Kids Love It:

The variety of options for outfits is a major draw.  The characters’ antics within the play scenes maintains a child’s attention, and they love the option to take a “snapshot” of their Potato Head in action.

Available: iTunes FREE

Apps We Love for Speech – Story Kit

App Name: StoryKit

Why We Love It: This app allows you to customize a story utilizing pictures you have taken from your iPad or iPhone. The types of stories that can be used are sequential stories that incorporate specific steps needed to complete tasks, review of past events to share with others, and pictures within the story that help teach specific concepts. An example of a sequential story would be showing the steps needed to brush teeth. The child can be the “actor” for the story and can then utilize appropriate expressive language skills to describe the story. An example of reviewing past events would be to take pictures of your child at the event. The child can then share what happened by describing the pictures and showing them to another person. This app can also help teach specific concepts by taking pictures of specific verbs in action, prepositions (i.e. the book is on the table and the blanket is on the bed).

Why Kids Love It: They get to be the “star” of their own personalized books. Children can make greater connections to the activity because they have such a big role in it’s creation.

Available: iTunes FREE

IPad Tip for Fine Motor Success

 Quick and Simple Solution: A Glove!

Touch screen electronics can be a great learning and communication tool, but if a child has difficulty isolating their index finger, they often inadvertently activate ads on the screen or make mistakes by tapping the wrong place, which can quickly become quite frustrating. Here’s a mom’s simple solution: take a child-sized glove and cut off the end of the index finger. The fabric of the glove will keep the other fingers and the rest of the hand from accidentally activating the screen. We have tried it here at the clinic and it really works. Great idea!