It’s Appy Happy month, y’all! Because April is Autism Awareness Month and apps help so many kids on the spectrum, many developers deeply discount (or give away!) their apps this month. Today, I’m sharing a list of Nate’s favorite apps at the moment. I’ve added these to our iPad apps list (which you can access here or at the top of the screen at anytime), which includes prior recommendations and blog posts about this topic.
Endless ABC (Originator, Inc; iPhone and iPad; $6.99)
I know. $6.99 for an app sounds outrageous, especially when it’s for a toddler — but this is seriously Nate’s favorite app and it’s got everything going for it. See, there are these monsters, and they run really, really fast (like toddlers) into words and scatter the letters everywhere. Your kid has to drag the letters to the appropriate spot to spell the word. While your tot is dragging the letter, the actual letter kicks and screams its phonetic sound: e’s holler “eh eh eh eh eh” while a’s holler “ah ah ah ah ah.” Once the word is put together, the monsters scream the word and then perform a most engaging skit to demonstrate what the word means. Finally, a friendly narrator re-states the word and provides the actual definition. You can see a video of how it works here.
Even though this game is geared toward kids ages 4 and up, the words are challenging. Umbrella? Yup. Let’s spell it. Gargantuan? Let’s spell that, too! Words are added in updates to keep the game fresh.
While writing this, I also discovered that there’s an Endless Numbers (Originator, Inc; iPhone and iPad; free; $3,99 to unlock all episodes). I downloaded it last night for Nate and he was instantly drawn to it. The numbers holler their name as Nate slides them in order. The app then divides the number (say 6) into two numbers and asks Nate to form an addition equation (e.g. 2 + 4 = 6). Finally, a monster shows up with lots of eyes or freckles or something that require you to count the given number. Super cute app that I’m sure will become a favorite of Nate’s.
This is the greatest pretend play app ever. It’s a home with lots of rooms – a living room, kitchen, bathroom, children’s bedroom, parents’ bedroom, and a backyard. Each room has tons of interactive items to allow your child to create to their imagination’s content with the five characters — mom, dad, young girl, young boy, and a baby. In the living room, the curtains can close, making the room dark, which requires you to turn on a lamp. The television goes on and off, the fish blows bubbles, the clock ticks, the stereo goes on and off, the cds can be interchanged, and the apple on the table can be enjoyed as a snack. In the bathroom, the selected character can take a shower (fully clothed, which Nate doesn’t seem to care about), flush the toilet, use toilet paper, turn the sink on and off, open and close the shower curtain. If your character takes a shower and doesn’t towel off, then s/he drips in other areas of the house until you go back to the bathroom to properly dry.
Nate’s favorite rooms are the kitchen (because there are lots of apples for everyone to eat) and the backyard where there’s a trampoline and a tire swing. The best part about this game? If your child’s made an absolute mess of this “house,” there’s a reset button on the main screen that restores everything to its proper place. I need one of those buttons for my own home!
Both Ms. Mollie (at school) and Ms. Aimee (Nate’s private therapist) use this app in speech sessions. It’s a great way to build pretend play and to build listening skills (e.g. Put the baby in the crib, flush the potty, feed mommy the apple.) You can see a video of this app in action here.
Continuing with our love of Little Bit Studio apps, we’ve added Bugs and Buttons 2 (iPhone and iPad; $2.99) to Nate’s iPad, which complement the original Bugs and Bubbles and Bugs and Buttons. It uses creepy crawly critters – hairy spiders, bumble bees, and other crawling bugs – to help kids develop sorting skills, numerical order, and hand/eye coordination through eighteen unique games. Some games Nate is more drawn to than others but he visits them all from time to time. You can see a video of this app here, courtesy of a great website, Apps for Children with Special Needs.
Toca Boca Band (Toca Boca AB; iPhone and iPad; $2.99)
This is a super magnetic app for Nate and a really annoying app for me. Fair warning, it’s loud and repetitive but it really holds Nate’s attention and gets his creative juices flowing so I tolerate it. There’s a bandstand that holds eight characters. Each character makes his or her own unique musical rhythm/sound/riff. You can combine them in hundreds of ways to create a new band song. If Nate thinks someone deserves a solo, he puts them on the star, which shoots them to the sky. There, the rest of the band that he created softly plays while the soloist’s tune is prominently heard. Nate’s favorite soloists are the girl with the rainbow eyeband, the clock (obviously), the squeaking balloon, and the cat with the musical balls floating in its mouth, each of which play a different tone when touched. You can see the Toca Boca Band promotional video here to get a flavor of the sound.
Curious George: Curious About Shapes and Colors (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; iPhone and iPad; $4.99)
Nate’s favorite cartoon is Curious George, the new one on PBS. This app uses the classic George but Nate’s made the leap to accepting vintage George in this app. The Man in the Yellow Hat and George guide your child through a series of activities that require them to trace shapes and sort and match items to build interactive toys. One module turns your finger into a laser to cut out wood circles, triangles, and squares to build a boat. Another module’s activities ultimately create a floating, spinning boat. The Man with the Yellow Hat and George cheer you on the entire time. In fact, Nate pauses to clap for himself every time George claps for him. You can see the promotional video for the app here.
Winnie the Pooh: Wonder and Wander (Disney; iPhone and iPad; free)
This app is parked in Nate’s “calming” folder. It is a simple and charming game with puzzles, interactive boards, and a coloring book. Best part? It’s free — and it holds Nate’s attention for a long time. And the music is really lovely. You can see a promotional video here.
Know that we’re not getting any kickback if you buy through the above links; I haven’t the energy to figure out how that all works. We’re also not getting any payment from the companies we’ve listed above; we genuinely just love their apps.
To keep an eye on discounts for these (and other) awesome apps, check out Apps for Children With Special Needs on Facebook and online and Technology in (SPL) Education on Facebook and the web. Both organizations tend to post notices of apps dropping to free on Facebook regularly and have listings on their website. They also do extensive research into the apps that they recommend to ensure that they’re valuable and educational additions to your child’s iPad.