Saturday, December 13, 2014

The iPad and all it's Wonders

Technology and Development

Whether you have, like, or use technology such as an iPad or smartphone, there's no denying that our kids are going to be whizzes with ALL of it so we might as well get on board! There is no single tool/toy that has helped Wes progress more than the iPad/smartphone, hands down! We are so blessed to have an iPad that we are able to dedicate almost solely to Wesley's apps and we use it DAILY for everything from movie watching to high chair games to practicing any number of developmental moves!

First recommendation, child proof iPad case.  I mentioned this in a previous post, my brother all but made me buy a Fisher Price iPad case when Wes was about 18 months old and thank goodness he did! Once I felt safe letting Wes play with the iPad (drop it, throw it, etc), dozens of opportunities suddenly opened up for its usage! 

One of the biggest ways we've used the iPad was to get Wes to move! Simple moves we take for granted are huge feats for Wes such as rolling over, holding a crawl position, pulling to stand, walking, etc. Wes is what I like to called determined, but not necessarily motivated. If something is too hard to get, too far away, or he's weighed the amount of energy it would take to play with the toy versus the fun he would have and they don't add up,  he just moves right along to something else. The iPad, however, is a motivator for him... and we take full advantage of that! So, we find some apps he likes, place that bad boy just out of his reach, and motivate him to get to it by working on whatever skill we need to work on. This tool has helped tremendously with crawling and holding the crawl position... I put it out of his reach to make him crawl to it, then lay it flat on the floor so he can watch/play while holding the crawl position. I also love propping up the iPad on a low table and sitting with Wes a few feet away so he can see it. Then we practice standing from a sit or from the ground, walking, and pulling up on the table to get to the iPad. Works like a charm and he is always determined to get to that game no matter how many times it takes him!

The iPad has also been a lifesaver at therapy. Just like at home, he weighs the benefit to himself as to whether he wants to do what his therapists ask, so if it's not worth his time then we can forget getting anything done! Que the smartphone. Once I bring that phone out and he hears the music of one of his favorite apps, he'll walk the whole hall or crawl through every tunnel they have to get to it. I can't count how many times my phone has prevented meltdowns with the PT, Speech, and OT! 

We also like to use the iPad in the high chair. I'm not a big fan of letting kids watch TV or play games while eating, however in Wesley's case anything to keep him distracted while trying to eat by mouth prevents him from throwing a bigger fit than he already does. We have to pick our battles. In the high chair, though, we're able to work on OT and comprehension skills such as pointing, cause and effect, matching, identification, dragging, and more! He stays focused in the high chair and can really concentrate on the apps, so we're careful to target certain apps that align with skills he needs to work on. We also work on his weak hand in the high chair. We have a restraint cast that we put on his left arm to block the use of his hand, forcing him to use his weaker right hand/arm. We put apps on the iPad that only require him to tap the screen or have simple buttons to activate, that way he gets practice using his right arm to hit the screen without frustrating him. Honestly it has tremendously helped Wesley's aim and coordination with his right hand! 

No matter how you use it, the iPad can be a wonderful tool for development! What are the best apps to get though? I subscribe to Smart Apps for Kids and they send me daily emails with free recommended apps for kids and kids with special needs! These are very helpful for ideas along with recommendations from family and friends. But, like any toy, kids can be finicky so it's always a battle trying to find apps they like. Wes is a stickler for the familiar, so it's a bit of a struggle when introducing new apps to him because they're unfamiliar and make him uncomfortable.... even though he gets completely tired and bored with the old ones. I have to slowly introduce new apps by turning them on every couple of days and playing with them with him... eventually they become more and more familiar and he actually likes playing them instead of whining when I put them on. It's a process! I especially love, when picking out apps, the free (of course) and "lite" versions because you can try them out before paying for them.

So, here are the apps that have worked wonders with Wesley:

Fisher Price  
Basically ANY Fisher Price app, especially the baby ones, are home runs in our house! These are great for cause/effect, pointer skills, learning shapes, colors, numbers, etc. Here are the titles of our favorites, and they're ALL free!!!

* Laugh & Learn Shapes & Colors Music Show for Babies
* Laugh & Learn Where's Puppy's Nose for Baby
* Storybook Rhymes Volumes 1, 2, and 3
* Laugh & Learn Learning Letters Monkey
* Create & Learn - Animals
* Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Around the Farm
* Create & Learn
* Stamp & Learn Shapes!
* Laugh & Learn Let's Count Animals for Baby
* Laugh & Learn Animal Sounds for Baby
* Fisher Price Giggle Gang App for Baby

Kids Games Club by Tab Tale 
This group has tons and tons of kids apps, but Wes really likes the music based ones! These apps come with an animated nursery rhyme song, then several related games. They are great for cause/effect, identification, pointer skills, and more... and the great thing about these apps is they have a lite version, so you can try them out first... then if you like them, they're only $2-3 for the full version. WELL worth it...

* The Wheels on the Bus - All in One Educational App (FAVORITE!)
* 5 Little Monkeys - All in One Educational App
* Itsy Bitsy Spider - All in One Educational App
* ABC Song - All in One Educational App
* Kids Song Collection - Interactive Playful Nursery
* Farm Friends: First Numbers and Animals (another FAVORITE)

There are dozens of different nursery rhyme apps with this group so check them out and grab the ones they like!

Baby First
Baby First apps are super cute... they have two different main characters Wes loves, a little blue Peekaboo baby and VocabuLarry. These apps are great for pointer skills and identification... they have lite versions, then full versions for a couple of dollars.

* Peekaboo, I see you! (FAVORITE)
* Play with VocabuLarry
* VocabuLarry's Things That Go book
* VocabuLarry's Things That Go Game

These are fabulous apps for teaching identification, pointing and dragging skills, matching, and more! These are free to start, then if you like them you can get full versions for a couple of dollars...

* Match it up 1, 2, and 3
* Families 1

Lucky Ducky Studio
These are super cute for teaching pointing skills, characters and storylines, identification, and more! I think these were a couple of dollars but again they have a lite version so you can check them out first!

* Toddler's Playroom - Fun & Learning All in One
* Kids Policeman
* Kids Fireman

Here are some random apps we've found that are hits with Wes...

* Knock Knock Family - Toddler's First App
* The Alphabet Train for Kids
* Dusty the Digger
* ABC Ninja - The Alphabet Letters and Phonics Slicing
* Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer
* Animal Band - 3D Interactive Music Toy
* ABC Wow! - Kids' Alphabet Flash Cards
* Talking Paul
* WATCH Disney Junior

These are just a few of the apps we've used over the past year that have been favorites! If we discover any new hits we'll be sure to share!

1 comment:

  1. Oh man! I DON'T have an ipad, just a "smart phone" -- but now I wish I did. I'm sure he'd love it.

    (The phone already has a small crack in it -- so handing it off to my PVL kid who loves to throw but can't set something down gently to save his life - that just is not an option.)

    Question: when my son WILL play with an app on my phone, he still struggles. He cannot tap well, and most assume tapping is possible. He can only touch-and-drag. Releasing is hard. Any ideas for apps that reward drag-over activity as well as tapping activity?