Tuesday, April 17, 2012

iPad apps

Today, I was lucky enough to attend an all-day "iPads in Special Education" training at our ISD. I don't have an iPad in my classroom yet, though I'm hopeful to have one next year, and let me tell you, I'm now more than tempted to purchase one myself before then. I was also lucky enough to go to the training with my next-door classroom neighbor, who has two iPads in his classroom (he wrote a grant for one, and the other a parent gave the classroom. Gave!!! What?!) Anyway, his two iPads meant I had one to play around with at the training. We were downloading free apps like fiends!

Here are some of the resources we discovered today. Though I've at least checked out all of these, I haven't used them (won't get to access them again until I borrow neighbor's iPad for my classroom next), so these aren't hard and fast recommendations, but they are definitely you-should-check-these-outs. (I tried to highlight (bold) what you'll put into the app store search, but some I didn't write down the specifics, so I tried to give enough info for you to do a search.)

Sped-Specific Apps - communication, basic skills, and/or life skills

-First of all, there are a bunch of autism-related apps that are FREE during the month of April. Do a search for ABA on the App Store, or kindergarten.com - all apps there are free because of autism awareness month. There are some great ones with noun flash cards, alphabet flash cards, 'what goes together,' categorization, etc. I did play around with quite a few of these and thought they were fabulous for basic vocab, categorization, and the like. Nice real photographs and voice support/prompts.

-See.Touch.Learn. by Brain Parade. I can't remember if this was a free app or one my coworker had on his iPads to begin with (but it's pretty safe to say that if he's got it on his device it's free or close to it!). Different lessons using real photos and (computerized) voice prompts with categorization and/or qualities ('touch each one that is round,' etc.).

-Answers:YesNo HD is a very simple/basic communication/AAC app. It's $3.99, and would be good for very low-functioning students who are at the level of just answering yes/no questions or making choices between two. It's a basic two-step communicator (two buttons on the screen - red yes, green no) and you can customize up to 30 pairs with your own photos, your own recorded voice for two-choice selections, etc.

-Sono Flex Lite is a FREE communication-device type app. You can build phrases and sentences with Symbol Stix figures with voice output, quite similar to (from what I could tell) a Dynavox-type communication device. The Sono Flex Lite is the free version, and our presenter told us the only difference between Lite (free) and the paid version ($99.99) is that there are a lot more 'context' options (ie, sets of words/phrases bundled as related to certain contexts such as beach, school, art, etc...) with the paid version. My coworker has Lite on his iPads and for the little bit I played around with it I was impressed!

-Model Me Going Places 2 is a FREE app. It's 6 different social stories in slideshow and voice output. Yes, there are only 6 social stories, all related do going different places (specifically, hairdresser, mall, doctor, playground, grocery store and restaurant) and it's uneditable - so it's quite limited, but it's free and the stories are well-done and use real photos, so I'd probably download this one!

-iDress for Weather is $1.99. When you are connected to the internet, it connects to your local weather and shows a closet with appropriate clothing for that temperature. That's all it does, but it's excellent for teaching how to make appropriate clothing choices. I'd love to use this in my morning circle when we talk about weather! You can also edit the closet photos by replacing with your own photos (so, take pictures of your students' clothing and place them in the appropriate temperature range, for example).

Early Literacy/Reading Apps

-ABC Magic - if you search this in the App Store, there are TONS of free or $0.99 apps related to early alphabet, spelling, phonics and reading skills. My coworker and I downloaded every free one available and I'm really going to be able to use a lot of them with my students. There's letter recognition, letter sounds, word building, drag and drop spelling. etc.

-LetterSchool - there is a paid version that's just $2.99 and a lite version that's FREE. I honestly don't remember the difference, but I'd be willing to pay the $2.99 if that's what it took! If you have students learning how to form/write letters, this is great, in my opinion. It supports Handwriting Without Tears, D'Nealian, and standard handwriting. Kids go through different activities and levels of prompting to form letters with either a finger or a stylus. I thought it was pretty awesome!

-iWrite Words - I honestly don't remember much about this one specifically, but I have it starred on my course handout, so it must have been notable at the time ;) It has a $2.99 and a free version. More handwriting practice/games.

-Toontastic - FREE. This is a fantastic app that lets students create a cartoon story. Covers story elements such as setup, conflict, challenge, climax and resolution. Characters, setting, emotion, etc. are all emphasized. You can either draw your own, or select from premade animations. Then you get to actually move your characters onscreen and speak for them; it's all recorded. Very, very cool - I can't wait to do this with some of my higher kiddos!


  1. You might be able to use it as a tax write off if you end up buying one - you can claim up to $250 on educational materials. We have a few in our department that are for certain kids as communication devices but they have also loaded some apps on there and they are so cool to check out!

    It's sad though, the iPads have been stolen about 4 times...and the school keeps replacing them because we aren't about to take away a student's method of communication - but it's not like they can continue to do that forever. :(

    But not to end on a sad note! Technology is awesome! And it's exciting to see how motivating it is for students. It has played a great part in our behavior rewards system as well! :)

    Brie @ BreezyPinkDaisies

    1. I claim the $250 easily each year without a large tech purchase, for sure - I have no budget from my school/district, so have to pay out of pocket for most all materials I use (including things like construction paper, even)...so an iPad would definitely be above and beyond. I am planning on writing a grant for one next school year, though.

      That's horrible that your students' iPads keep getting stolen! I have a locked cabinet in my classroom that I keep anything remotely valuable in, because otherwise things would "walk away," too.


  2. Thank you so much for blogging about this! I am about to start a masters program for Special Education and am a technology lover too! I'm bookmarking this for sure!

    Wild about Teaching!

  3. Thank you for the heads up about the FREE ABA apps this month! OOO I was excited:) I LOVE their apps and how they reinforce correct answers!

    We are ALL Special!

    1. You're welcome! I loved the apps from them!


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