Here’s a list of iPad apps that have engaged Nate at some point in his iPad career. I’m listing them by “current” and the age range in which he previously enjoyed the apps. How to Get Free Apps We downloaded many of Nate’s apps for free, including ones that take data on his performance, by keeping tabs on the following Facebook pages:
- Smart Apps for Kids, which has both a website and Facebook page. Their Facebook page makes announcements about the free app of the day; their website also includes reviews and links to apps by subject and by appropriateness for toddlers, pre-school kids, and those ages 6-8, 9-11, and 12 and up.
- Dr. Brown’s Apps. Designed by a psychologist with significant clinical experience, Dr. Brown’s apps are designed to help kids with autism, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or any child who has difficulty staying on task. Their Facebook page alerts you to discounted/free applications and their website details the full suite of applications.
- Technology in (SPL) Education. This website highlights applications intended for use in special education and categorizes them by Free/Discounted Apps and Apps by IEP Goals/Skills. Their Facebook page alerts you to free applications alerts, which are provided by sponsors.
- Also, many apps are significantly discounted or free during April, which is Autism Awareness Month. All of the above sites do a great job at alerting you to what’s on sale and often recap what was on sale during the previous year so you can decide if you want to wait until April to purchase an app.
Remember – you don’t need to have an iPhone, iPod, or iPad to take advantage of free applications. If you anticipate getting such a device in the future, open an iTunes account and begin to “purchase” free apps as they become available. They’ll all be parked in your iTunes account, available for download whenever you do purchase a complimentary device. Current Apps that Nate Loves (almost 5) The below list of apps are described in this post here and here:
- Endless ABC (Originator, Inc.; iPhone and iPad; $6.99)
- Endless Numbers (Originator, Inc.; iPhone and iPad; free; $3.99 to unlock all episodes)
- Bugs & Bubbles (Little Bit Studio; iPhone and iPad; $2.99)
- Bugs & Buttons (Little Bit Studio; iPhone and iPad; $2.99)
- Bugs and Buttons 2 (Little Bit Studio; iPhone and iPad; $2.99)
- My Play Home (Shimon Young; iPhone and iPad; $3.99. Free “lite” version available.)
- Toca Boca Band (Toca Boca AB; iPhone and iPad; $2.99)
- Curious George: Curious About Shapes and Colors (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; iPhone and iPad; $4.99)
- Winnie the Pooh: Wonder and Wander (Disney; iPhone and iPad; free)
- Wheels on the Bus (Duck Duck Moose; iPhone & iPad; $1.99)
- Old MacDonald (Duck Duck Moose; iPhone & iPad; $1.99)
- Itsy Bitsy Spider (Duck Duck Moose; iPhone & iPad; $1.99)
- Butterflying (Tropisounds; iPad only; $0.99)
- Bubbles for Toddlers (Yevgeny Kolyakov; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $0.99)
Peekaboo Barn (Night & Day Studios; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $1.99). I learned about this app from Nate’s teacher, Ms. Susie, who shares that all of the kids love it. Every time you touch the barn doors, they slide open and there’s a new animal inside. Very simple and teaches animals and animal sounds.
Splish Splash Inn (Shortstack; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $0.99). Ms. Susie also shared this app with us. It’s an underwater inn. Knock on the numbered door and, of course, there’s a corresponding number of sea creatures staying in that room! Nate loves to count each one with the app; the critters do something each time he touches them.
Pre-K Letters and Numbers (BrightStart LLC; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; free). This app rocks. It teaches pre-writing skills. If your tot goes outside of the letter or number shape, however, the app asks the child to try writing it again. Letters and numbers are written by connecting numbers in order and, once completed, a picture (and written word of that picture) appears that starts with the drawn letter.
Wee Sing & Learn ABC (zuuka incorporated; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $2.99). This app has features animals who play musical instruments that start with the first letter of their names. So, for example, the alligator plays the accordion, the bear plays the banjo and the cat plays the clarinet. On each page, you can make each animal play their instrument or you can make them say their animal sound. There are also other alphabet appropriate pictures on the page (i.e. apple, arrow, etc.). Nate enjoys making each animal play songs and flipping the pages in storybook mode.
Interactive iPad Books
Goodnight Moon (Loud Crow Interactive; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $4.99). Worth every single penny. This is by far Nate’s favorite book and each page comes to life. The mice are hidden throughout the book and you get rewarded for finding them. When you touch the phone, it rings. When you touch the clock, it ticks and tocks. The narrative is read aloud as well but every item on every page does something. It’s pretty awesome.
Bizzy Bear Builds a House (Nosy Crow; iPhone, iPod Touch, & iPad; $3.99). An interactive storybook, Bizzy Bear sets out to build himself a house. To start, he exits a bus and is greeted at the job site by a dog, who hands him a hard hat. Nate has to take the hard hat from the dog and put it on Bizzy Bear’s head. There are many instructional items like this throughout the story and Nate is drawn to the voices, sounds, and scenes.
To practice pre-writing skills, we got Nate the No. 2 Stylus Pencil. It’s chubby so it’s easy for Nate’s hand to hold. Word of caution: the “eraser” unscrews and becomes a choking hazard so make sure to glue it on before giving it to your tot.
To protect Nate’s iPad, we bought the OtterBox Defender Case. It’s expensive (about $65) but it comes with a screen protector and a stand. When sealed up, you could throw the iPad across the room and nothing will happen. Nate’s dropped it, stood on it, spilled food on it – and his iPad is as good as new. Nate’s teachers and schoolmates use the Big Grips Frame. It’s a giant piece of foam that wraps around the edges of the iPad and protects the front, back, and sides from falls. It’s much more open-air than Nate’s but it also seems to do the trick – and it’s a bit cheaper at $34.95.
Games That Nate Loved by Age Range Age 2.75 – 3.25
Tropisounds Wood Puzzles (iPhone and iPad; $1.99 each) Nate blazes through the Tropisounds “wood” puzzles, the whole family of which can be found at the bottom of this link. The younger versions, including Wood Puzzle, Wood Puzzle Easter Colors, Halloween, and Christmas, all of which Nate has, are simple matching pieces puzzles. However, the Wood Puzzle First Years was the one Nate enjoyed most. They’re layered puzzles that require a specific sequence of actions in order to work. For example, you can’t get the boy and girl dressed without first putting in their hearts or you can’t complete the penguin puzzle without first putting the fishies in his belly. To find all of the puzzle pieces, Nate has to scroll in the bar at the bottom of the screen so it keeps him on his toes and very entertained. For both the simple and layered puzzles, there are verbal reinforcements for each action. In the simple puzzles, shapes are labeled (square, circle, oval) by a toddler’s voice when placed in the correct spots. In the more complex app, a toddler’s voice reminds you about the order of action if you’ve forgotten (“Try the heart first!”) and raises you up when you’ve completed a puzzle. (My favorite is when the toddler hollers out at Nate, “You’re a genius!”) Nate played these so often that he got bored with them – but he really stuck with them for a good six months.