“If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
-- Ignacio Estrada

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vacation time...iPads ready? CHECK!

As we get ready to take a long weekend road trip to see a couple of baseball games and visit a few children's museums, I had to make sure we did the iPad check. I wanted to make sure that both my work iPad and my husbands iPad 2 were "kids" organized and had a variety of apps to entertain 2 kiddos in a car. Even though they both are excellent travelers and enjoy looking at the scenery, I wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered. (No bun intended - if you closely, the background on my hubby's iPad is Pete Rose sliding into home plate.)

I have been asked several time about how I have organized my apps into folders. I don't think there is a "right" way or a "wrong" way. You have to figure out what way is going to work best for the user.
Here are a few pictures of how we have folders set up on our iPads. My husband's iPad 2 is sent up for his use. I have only advised on how to organize his apps.

But I made sure that since my kids would be using it too, they knew what apps were OK for them to play. So....
we made each kid a folder (Grace and Caleb), then we have a Books folder, games folder and a kids fun folder. These folder contain all the app that are appropriate for the kids to play.

My iPad, which is primarily for work use, is set up more "kids friendly" and academic. I have apps organized into folders set up according to subjects, such as math, reading, drawing, books, etc. Apps that I use on a frequent basis (like Proloquo2Go, Pandora, iDress, etc.) are no in folders so that they are easy access.

Here are the top 10 apps (ok, may be there are a few more than 10) that we have on at least one of the iPads that I know will make the road trip a little less painful.

  1. Every app from Toca Boca: Toca Tea, Toca Doctor, Paint My Wings, and Toca Hair Salon (our new favorite).  apps range in price from $0.99 to $1.99 with a free LITE version of Toca Doctor available. Toca Doctor and Toca Tea are some of the favorite apps of my 5 year old.
  2. My Underwear by Thumb Arcade and Todd Parr. Several activities all relating to....well, you guessed it underwear! You can decorate it, match it, and have monsters eat the undies. My kids LOVE IT! available for $2.99 in itunes.
  3. Playskool: Alphie by Red Urban. This app is a simple that teaches basic skills (colors, numbers, shapes). My kids love to help Alphie on his adventures and visit his Grandpa Blue. The price is amazing... FREE!
  4. The Three Little Pigs by Nosy Crow. See my review for additional information on this app.
  5. Chuck and Friends: Friends for the Long Haul by Ruckus Media Group. My 3 year old loves his cars and trucks so I knew that this interactive book was a must. Various learning activities are imbedded into the story. BONUS * app allows you to record your own voice reading the story* Chuck is available for $3.99 for full version or LITE version for FREE
  6. iDoodle Card by BND Co., Ltd. offers a variety of drawing activities. It allows for free drawing, follow a maze, complete a picture, or coloring pages. It is able 2 or 3 apps in one. I can't wait to do a full review because this one has so many potential IEP uses. I think it is a steal at $0.99.
  7. MiniSketch by FatalFun is similar to the handheld "Etch-a-Sketch", but with a twist. In this app, you can change color and line texture. Although I was never good that the original etch-a-sketch, I found this one fun to just play with due to the color and line changes available. If you hurry, it is FREE until June 27th.
  8. Bug Builder by zinc Roe allows you to choose between 4 different bug body shapes. Next, you can decorate your shape to create your bug. After your bug in complete, you have the choice of taking a picture of the bug going back to create another. I'm not a fan of taking the picture as I end up with 50 bug photos on my iPad if my kids are playing by themselves. Consider yourself warned. This app is $1.99 which compared to other "creative apps" is a little high for the simplicity of the app.
  9. Create a Car by ABCya!. See my review for additional information on this app.
  10. Moody Monster by ALEX toys allows you to create your own monster, take monster tour of the manor, and play games with the monsters. The app integrates both academic (colors) and social (feelings) components as well. Moody Monsters is one of the favorites of my 3 year old (until we got Chuck the Truck). Best of all, it is FREE!
  11. And last, but not least, we cannot leave the house without a copy of The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton made into an interactive story app by Loud Crow Interactive, Inc. This book, actually this board book, has had a place in our nighttime ritual since my daughter, who will be 6 in August, was born. We have read it so much that the whole family, even Caleb (age 3), can recite the book from memory. So when we saw that there was an interactive version for the iPad, we jumped on it. For the iPad version it is $2.99, iPhone version is $1.99 which I think is a great price for a very good quality interactive book. Both cheaper than the original board book which was probably about $5.99. However, I wouldn't be trading in the board book.....too many memories are attached to the book.
As you are planning your own vacation, hopefully this list will give you a few idea on how to "keep the peace" and quiet while traveling. Safe travels to all!


    Alphabet Photo Machine ~Review~

    I was excited to receive an email from a "local" app developer. Not that I don't LOVE talking to those of you from Canada, California, Seattle, or the UK, but I was beginning to think that the mid-west was 20 years behind (kind of like the old Mark Twain saying about Cincinnati). After a little research, I was surprised to see that there are some developers within a days drive of Cincinnati doing some pretty cool things. This is one of a few app I received from 965 studios out of Columbus, OH.

                      Alphabet Photo Machine
    The app is a very simple alphabet app that displays both the upper and lower case letter and a drawing of something that starts with that letter.The letters are not next to each other and will swap places when touched. A green box and arrow give the visual cue to "touch here" to go to the next page. If the user touches the drawing, the upper and lower case letters move side by side and photographs appear. The photographs are clear and focus on the word versus having a lot of background in the picture. I think the use of the photos are what set this app apart from other ABC apps out there that I have seen and used with my students. Another benefit to this app is it incorporates the plural form of some words. For example, it shows a picture of on dog, and says dog. Then it will show a picture of 2 dogs and says dogs. The voice of the narrator is pleasant and I think that it would be better received by students than an adult sounding voice. The app gives the option of voice sound on/off and music on/off which is a plus when working with students who can be easily distracted. My preference for this app with voice on, sound off.

    Additional IEP applications
    There are several applications for this app when working on IEP goals. First, it is a great app for reinforcing letter naming and letter identification. Students could use the voice on during teaching or exploring the app, then teachers could turn voice off when asking students to identify letters. Another application would be to use this app to increase language through picture identification. Again, this is where I would use the voice on/off similar to the letters during teaching and assessment. Lastly, I think this app would be great to use when working with students on plurals or simply working on placing the 's' on the ends of words even if it isn't the concept of "more than one".

    A couple of suggestions for this app:
    1. When teaching students the alphabet, I like to use the "circle and a line" a versus the "typeset" a. Since I'm often teaching the letters along with printing, I tend to like that letter better.
    2. When choosing pictures to go with the letters, make sure that the pictures make the correct beginning sound for the letter, not just start with the letter. For example, under 'c' the pictures were CAR, CAT, and CHAIR. For students with learning challenges, this would be confusing.

    Although I did not have time to use it with my students (I downloaded it the last week of school...and teachers and parents you know how that goes!), my own kids (ages 3 and 5) enjoying playing with it. Once I use it with some of my students next year, I will be sure to update this.
    In conclusion, this was a very well put together. It was simple and it didn't have tons of "interactivity" as some of the the other apps I have tried, but that it what I liked about it. The drawing and photographs were clear and focused on the object with not a lot of background to distract the user. Each page showing simply the letters and the pictures makes it a great asset to the students with whom I work. I think this app is appropriately priced at $1.99. Oh, I think I just thought of an idea for an Alphabet Photo Machine 2.

    developer: 965 Studios
    website: http://965studios.com/
    itunes: Alphabet Photo Machine
    category: Games
    recently updated: July 5, 2010

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    How to Read Books with Children with Language Delays

    This article was posted by a Facebook colleague from Maryland. We know reading to children is so important. This ASHA article talks about reading to children with language delays. It gives some great tips like reading face to face with your child and making sure your mouth is not covered as well as what type of books to choose.


    What book or kinds of books do you enjoy reading with your kids? Leave a comment and let me know!

    To my students, I enjoy reading books with repetitive text so that students get the benefit of hearing/saying the same phrase as well as I can easily program the phrase on a big mack to allow all students to take a turn reading.

    To my 5 year old daughter, I love to read her The Magic Treehouse books. The imagination of the characters fits perfectly with her own imagination and I like that most of the events have a historical basis.

    To my 3 year old son, I love to let him pick out books and have him "read" to me. The stories I get about Lightening McQueen and Dinosaurs are amazing.

    Happy Reading!

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    The "BubCap"

    In my recent twitter exploration, I found a company called Paperclip Robot that I began "following" and they in turn, "followed" me. I must admit, I am a little picky on who I allow to follow me so I always check out the twitter profile before I allow someone to "follow" me. I was very interested when I read the profile:
    "Creators of BubCap home button covers for iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch. Finally, a way to keep toddlers in their apps (& out of yours). Great for AAC & educators."
    The BubCap, I thought, what a concept! I know that my students, when left alone for a second, would rather choose a more passive app (piano or paperjams drums) than the activity I chose. Also, for one student who I was trying to use an AAC app with, it would occasionally become a "game" to click out of it and then click back in. Even though these items were marketed for keeping "toddlers" out of apps, would they work with my students? Just the fact that the "circle with the square" button (AKA home button) was no longer visible, could it work? Would the BubCap help resolve some of these issues?

    Paperclip Robot offered to send me a few to try out. They were generous enough to send me 2 for the iPhone (thin), 2 medium (thickness) for the iPad, and 2 BubCap Max (thickest for slightly older children). I was very impressed on how they worked. With most of my students, the mere fact that the BubCap took away the visual button was enough to keep them where they belonged. A couple students realized that something different was there, but when they touched and even pressed a little on the BubCap. When nothing happened, they went back to the activity at hand.

    I did not trial the iPhone BubCaps. I actually sent them to a new "friend" I met via the A4CWSN app party. I asked her to send me info about how they work with her son (ASD, I believe). When I get her response, I will post her comments here as well. I used the medium iPad covers for my work iPad and I put one on my husband's iPad 2 because he kept hitting the home button with his thumb when he would hold his iPad in landscape mode. As for my work iPad, the Bubcap will definitely help keep my students where they need to be or at least slowed them down a little bit. I think the thickness of the medium was appropriate for most of the students in my classroom (ages 5-8). It took me a while to get used to how much pressure I needed to apply on the home button to get back. As for my husband's iPad 2, he loves it as he can now play his games and not worry about pressing the home button by accident. My own children are a little confused as they think we lost the "circle with the square" button. It has helped keep them engaged in a single app for longer than the few minutes they normally play before "app flipped" through the iPad. I have not used the BubCap max covers yet. After seeing the effectiveness of the medium covers, I think that I will be sharing these with another intervention specialist for her older students.

    I did have a few concerns with the BubCaps:
    1. How will they effect the home button long term? I wonder how the adhesive might effect the functionality of the home button if it is pushed in/out so much. Also, how long does the adhesive last and how often would they need to be replaced?
    2. From website: "BubCaps may not work with all skins and cases, or may require skin or case removal to install and remove." This concerns me because so many of the individuals with special needs require the use of cases to make the idevice work for them AND they may need the Bubcap as well. This is where parents, therapist, teachers, etc. need to make informed decisions on technology and possible brainstorm some other modifications.
    3. From website: "While many people report good outcomes using a BubCap over a screen protector, the results can be unpredictable; do so at your own risk." Again, similar to #2, often a screen protector is needed to effectively protect the screen. Another area that individuals will need to brainstorm some modifications ideas.
    4. *update* One thing I forgot to mention in the original post was how it is difficult to "double tap/click" the home button to multitask or to change settings. Not that I do this often or that it is a big deal for me, just wanted to make you aware of this issue.
    In conclusion, I think that the BubCaps are a quick and easy way to kid proof your  "idevice" (and in my case husband proof, too). It as a great way for me to allow my students a little "independent" time with the iPad and still know that they were working on what I needed them to be working on. I would definitely purchase these in the future, if needed. *update* The price for them is reasonable - set of 4 for $5 with free shipping if purchased through their site and using paypal OR set of 4 for $5+$1 shipping if purchased through Amazon. International orders are accepted as well.

    If you have experience with BubCaps, I would be interested in hearing what you have to say. Please leave a comment!


    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Create a Car ~Review~

    The creator of this app is the same as Math BINGO and Word BINGO This app is one of the apps that is just FUN! It has a simple design. It is similar to the Create a Car activity from the ABCya! website, but my students and I (and my own kids for that matter) found this app to be easier to navigate than the website. The app allows for multiple users to save information (5 in all). Users are asked to sign in or play as a guest. Users are first asked to "choose your ride". A choice of over 30 vehicle bodies are displayed from a police car to a school bus to something resembling a Smart Car. After a body is chosen, the user is given a choice of options to add onto car: wheels, engine, power tools, fun stuff, etc. The options are accessed by touching on a small square, but it isn't clearly marked as the option for parts which caused some confusion during the first couple times. Once a car is made, you have the option of saving it. To retrieve it, the user must access "My Garage". In here, there is a key button that starts and stops the vehicle, information button (which allows user to name, discription of vehicle, and lists special features), email picture of your car, edit your car, or delete it. The students liked the options and were very engaged while creating their car.

    Additional IEP applications
    Basically, I used this app for fun, getting user familiar with the touchscreen of the ipad, and as a reinforcing activity after another task was completed. However, it could be easily adapted to integrate it into IEP goals. Create a Car lends itself to working on basic concepts such as color and numbers. Initially, I wasn't aware of the information button in the "My Garage" section. That section would be great as a writing prompt. An individual could create a car, then use the information section as a guide to write about the car. Lastly, I could see this app (as well as the website) being used with a student to increase communication. Options could be presented to student (pictures of body type, wheels, etc.) and student would choose options.

    A few suggestions for this app:
    1. Since this app is in my "fun" catagory, I could see students using this app on there own. It would be great if there was an option for the student to have the directions read to them, if touched.
    2. While in the create a car area, I think it would be helpful to place a word in the purple box with lines that allows you to change options. I think that either the word ADD or changing the color of box to green might help facilitate the idea that it is the option button.

    In conclusion, this app is fun and engaging for both students and adults. The graphics are nice. The idea of creating his/her own car is a kids dream and the options to add onto each are can really give the imagination a workout. I could see this being an effective app for so many ages. It is one that my husband and son enjoy playing together as well. For $0.99, this app is well worth the purchase, especially as we head into vacation season.This $0.99 app will get you some quiet time in the car which could be priceless.

    developer: ABCya!
    website: http://www.abcya.com/
    itunes: Create a Car
    category: Education
    recently updated: March 21, 2011

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    International Children's Day

    Thanks to TOCA BOCA, developers from Sweden, for offering their apps FREE yesterday in honor of International Children's Day.

    As you can see from my pic, my daughter (age 5) and Ming Ming (from The Wonder Pets) are enjoying a relaxing day by having a tea party. She is using the Toca Tea Party app and LOVING IT!!

    Grace and Ming Ming enjoying a "virtual" tea party.

    PS - I'll add a more in depth review after I enjoy the first few days of summer vacation with my little rugrats!


    Wednesday, June 1, 2011


    I just wanted to say HAPPY SUMMER to all my students and families. We had a great year and it is hard to believe it is over! All the students made some nice progress this year. Progress reports and report cards will be mailed next week. I look forward to seeing you in August even if you are not in my classroom. Miss Joseph will take good care of you as well.

    Have a safe and fun summer! Check back to this site throughout the summer. I will continue to update the blog with summer activities, info about the coming school year, technology updates, as well as iPad information.

    Take care,
    Mrs. Broxterman