Apps I Can Use
I’ve had a lot of fun this past year (2013) looking for apps that work in the therapy setting. There is no doubt that the iPad is very motivating for kids but I still write that with a heavy heart. Sometimes I think I could do better with a deck of cards in front of me rather than having the deck on my iPad. But I will say my iPad has made therapy a lot easier. I love using my iPad. It is very convenient given that our sessions are usually short. However, the iPad is harder to modify for a child’s specific needs.
One thing I have learned is that Not All Apps Are Created Equal. Many don’t have the educational value or flexibility needed to be even fair learning tools. However, with that said over the past 30 years I’ve purchased lots of paper materials that never worked for me and my style of therapy. They’re taking up space in my garage rather than in cyber space.
I am occasionally asked to review an app or I find one that truly like after I’ve used it in therapy. I spent a lot of money on apps this past year and only use about half with any consistency. When I review an app I will add the following ratings.
This one will stay on my iPad all the time
This one will stay on my iPad when I have a student it will help
This one will stay on my iPad for a short period of time until everyone gets a chance to use it
This one will not stay on my iPad
If you have an app that you would like me to review please contact me below or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the summer I was inundated with ads from a new educational product called Osmo. It’s basically a very unique app that works with your iPad and incorporates manipulative. After seeing the demo video I was hooked and I had to have one. Mine arrived this week.
The special edition pack came with 2 sets of game manipulatives, Tanagram and Words. A third game called Newton was available for download (using the manipulatives of a paper and pencil or any solid object, including your hands). What puts a different spin on the Tanagram game is that the child has to shift their eye gaze from table to iPad to complete the tasks rather than lay an tanagram on top of a copy. It’s a fairly simple task but for young children or those with learning issues it is wonderful practice. As a therapist, I would love to see Tanagram leveled and expanded down the road.
Word comes with scrabble like pieces and you have to complete a variety of leveled word completion tasks. Pictures are presented, some with letter clues and some without. It’s a little like hangman. You can download and use pictures in a variety of categories. Being able to break the pictures down into specific categories is a big plus for me as a therapist. The most challenging level was somewhat abstract, with a few words/places we had not even heard of but that did make it fun for us.
Newton is difficult to describe. It’s like a pinball game where you have to hit targets, only you are trying to figure out the path to the target. You’re creating the path using pen/paper or other items to create the path, allowing the balls to bounce off and hit the target, while watching it on the screen. Again practicing that eye shift skill.
I tried the Osmo games with a couple of my students yesterday and they both loved them. Both the Tanagram and Word games focused on practicing some of their weak underlying learning skills. It didn’t move too fast for them. Since they really don’t need to touch the iPad while using it, inaccuracy often experienced when hitting the iPad was almost a non-issue.
The one drawback to this first edition of Osmo is that you have to remove the iPad from its case before it can be used. Personally I won’t let my students near the iPad unless it is encased in my Otter Box. Most schools are protecting their electronics with similar sturdy cases. I mentioned this to the company early on, they know it is an issue and are working on it. However, I was so excited with the technology and possible applications I was willing to try it knowing I would have to unearth my iPad from it’s case. At this point it will keep me from using Osmo with certain students and as often as I would like.
My mind has been swimming with ideas on different apps Osmo developers could create to target speech and language, occupational therapy and educational needs. I believe the possibilities are endless. In this day and age where second graders are now issued iPads and preschoolers are put in front of the iPad instead of the tv, adding manipulative to the iPad experience will help to create a more traditional and developmentally appropriate learning experience. I am so looking forward to the development of new applications for education, speech and language development and just for fun.
I created this using an app call Cloudart. My students had a lot of fun with it this week. I used it to work on categories, word retrieval and articulation. I purchased it for 99 cents through the iTunes store. This app is quick enough to use in a half hour session, even if the kids did some of the typing. It’s a fun little creative outlet for those of us who aren’t too creative. You can type in words or download a web sit like I did here. This is what appeared after I downloaded The School Speech Therapist into the app. In therapy the kids loved it and Cloudart will be something I keep on my iPad.
This one will be staying on my iPad!