Sunday, August 18, 2013

My fifteen favorite {free} iPad apps

I have spent the weekend researching, downloading, and exploring apps for my classroom IPad. Last year I used my IPad mainly as a reinforcer during individual teaching sessions or certain apps while working on IEP goals. But I can already tell I'm going to get a lot more use out of my IPad this year working with the younger (more distractible) kiddos. I searched for apps that I could use as an instructional tool, as a communication device, and as a reinforcer. Here is a list of my fifteen favorites {did I mention they are all free?!}:
{Communication Apps}

Ooooh! I like this one! There are several pages already made and linked. For example, the kiddo can say "I'm hungry" from a selection of wants and then it links to food choices. Yes, this is good! It looks like there are about 35 (FREE) pages. It's going to take me a minute to figure it out & teach my kids but I think this is going to be wonderful. There are some pages that only use words- rather than the word and pics- with one of my students will prefer. Con: may take me a bit to figure it out but I'll be able to begin using the basic pages asap.

Pic a word
Good quick communication board for use during snack time. Has visuals for snack basics such as cookies, goldfish, etc. and uses a child's voice. Con: Only 12 pics.

Able AAC Free
This communication board allows students to choose pics to express their basic wants and needs. As they select the picture, it is vocalized using a computerized voice. Con: Only the critical, I feel, and I want boards are available, everything else must be purchased in order for it to be vocalized. Boo.

Answers Free
I'll use this one during circle time, instructional time, & any other time I need the kiddos to answer a yes/no question. It simply displays a red "no" and green "yes" for the kids to touch while it verbalizes their answer. Con: None really.

Sounding Board
I've posted about this app before- it's that good! Now that I'm more familiar with it, I like how you can link boards and create your own boards. I'm working on creating several for use during my circle time. Cons: takes a second to go through and get the board you want selected but I'm afraid that's the case with all of these apps.

{Instructional Apps}

ABC Letter Toy
I like this tracing app better than any other one I have seen. The tracing points aren't visible until the child is at that point. They appear to prompt them to trace. Also, the tracing only appears on the correct path- unlike other tracing apps that allow the child to scribble all over the screen. After tracing each letter, they have a little cause/effect play time. Can switch between upper & lower case and numbers. Con: only offers a few letters and numbers to trace.

PCS Flash Cards Free
This app provides 50 basic flashcards depicting letters, numbers, animals, transportation, common foods, and common objects. I can go through it and show the cards to the kids to verbally identify or get them to go through it themselves and touch the pictures to hear it identified. It also has artic, language, and rhyming sections. Con: It prompts you to purchase the full app every time you go back to the home screen. I can already see my kids logged onto the app store now:)

Ask Me! Colors & Shapes Free.
Although its name is a little misleading (only the shapes are free), I really like this app for use during circle time or individual teaching sessions. I know my boys are going to dig the sound effects & the little tune that the questions are set to. If they don't answer quick enough, it helps them out by bouncing the answer and their is applause at the end- always a plus. Con: What about the colors?!

Social Skills Sampler HD
This app will be great with my kids who are able to sit & focus a little more. It shows a little video of real people acting out basic social skills- such as greeting people, being polite, and following directions. I think it would be really beneficial with other children & will be passing it along to some of my colleagues. Cons: Only adults in the videos.

Baby Sign & Learn
I don't know if this app will be educating my students (who are working on simple signing) or me more! It provides tons of flashcards with basic words- food, common objects, animals, etc., along with a little animated video of how to perform the sign. I am only working with 2 nonverbal students on signing right now but this will be great to use with all of my students. It has a little quiz too! Con: Wish it used real people in the videos.

{Reinforcement Apps}

Touch & Say
My kids love this app. There are 8 sections- including one where they sing common children's songs, count, identify colors, or follow commands. There is even a section that will repeat what they say using a silly voice. Cons: there is so much to choose from and my students usually jump back and forth between sections instead of going through a complete round in each one.

FirstWords Sampler
I used this app last year & have already found it very helpful this year. My kids love it & will play it over and over again. They match letters to create simple words. When they correctly match the letters, the pictures becomes animated. All of my kids love this one- even my slowest learners. It is great for them to work on matching identical letters & making a connecting between written & spoken language & words and pictures. Cons: wish there were more words.

ABC Alphabet
Wow- this app has so much to offer. My favorites are the abc tapping- my kids that are obsessed with letters will love tapping the screen to make random letters appear and float around. The abc song is also great but my favorite is the abc ordering- I can't wait to try this one out with my kids tomorrow! Cons: too much to choose from?

Kids Jigsaw Puzzles School
This puzzle app is great! There are 3 stages to choose from 2-45 pieces. Stage one has many, many pages of puzzles to choose from. They are matching the puzzle pieces to a less visible piece. This app actually could be used as an instructional resource also. Cons: You have to create a username & I'd like a little more excitement when I complete a puzzle.

Penguin Leveled Readers
I know that this may seem more like an instructional app but I have a kid that loves to read & listen to books being read so this will definitely be a reinforcer for him. Their are 4 books available for free at 4 different levels. The student can turn the pages and touch the words to have it read to them. Cons: more books, please!

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