There’s an app for that!

Each day more apps for smart phones and iPads are added to our online marketplaces.  Adults can track calories, read jokes, and play games, but what about our children? There are numerous apps for them as well for both learning and for entertainment.
As early intervention therapists, we admit, this increase in technology is exciting in many ways.  For example, did you know that iPads are now used as a way for children with communication challenges to get their thoughts across? The traditional “speech device” that plays recorded messages paired with pictures are no longer the only option for these families. An iPad with specific software provides a portable versatile way for non-verbal or children with limited expressive language to speak from simple words to complex sentence structure.    There’s even a group called Babies With iPads (check them out on Facebook and their own blog – they are very cool) that support this technology for infants and toddlers to develop their communication, play, pre-literacy, cognitive, visual/auditory and motor skills.  In our own daily work we’ve used apps for learning and for distraction while challenging a child to sit, stand, or walk.
We decided to provide our loyal readers a list of some of our favorite apps for infants and toddlers – some are ones that we enjoy ourselves and others were recommended by our friend and Occupational Therapy co-worker (thanks Leslie!).  Because the sheer number of apps out there is overwhelming, we listed a brief description for each that we found online.  Some are free and some have a small charge.
It is so important to note that just like TV, apps and use of smart phones or iPads with children should be used for short periods of time. Remember that using these tools is most helpful to your child when YOU are involved in the use! Think of using the app as a book or a toy, pairing your own language and physical touch to help your child enjoy and learn.  Most importantly “screen time” (time in front of a TV or computer/gaming system or phone) is not recommended for children under 2 years of age and limited to less than 2 hours total (combination of TV and other screen viewing) for toddlers 2 year and older. Time using technology is time away from motor play and sensory exploration and learning.  App learning has its benefits but should be limited and balanced with other types of play.
Here are some our favorites – check them out!
 Virtuoso – features piano keys and the ability to learn songs
 Vocal Zoo – real photographs of animals paired with the noises they make
Baby Shapesallows your child to identify shapes in animal puzzles. Provides opportunity for eyes development as children process simple shapes and high contrast images
Sparkabilities Designed especially for babies 3 – 18 months old.
Includes engaging movies from the Sparkabilities “Babies 2” DVD series that are designed to entertain and develop essential learning skills. Eight sets of interactive Flash Cards correspond to movies. Parents can use flashcards with baby at younger ages or baby can use cards independently as fine motor skills develop.
Peek A Boo BarnPeekaboo Barn is an interactive iPhone app that can entertain and teach children about different farm animals.  The app opens with a shaking barn, which makes an animal sound.  Children can attempt to guess what animal is hidden behind the barn doors before tapping the barn.  The doors will open and a cartoon of the animal will be shown, along with the animal’s name in text.  The name will be said out loud and the animal sound will be played.
Itsy Bitsy Spider – the app is obviously based on the popular children’s song, but this offers a unique and interactive way to enjoy it.  You will follow the Itsy Bitsy Spider and her friend the fly as you walk your way through this musical book.  Your child can poke the spider to move to the next page, or poke the fly to have it answer certain questions.  Your child will love touching all of the different interactive objects on the screen and will learn as they do it too.
Glow Draw – glow in the dark drawing opportunity that erases when you shake your phone or ipad.
Talking Tominteractive cat (named Tom) that repeats sounds and words spoken to him in a silly voice.  This is a wonderful way to encourage verbal language.
IlovefireworksWith iLoveFireworks, you can create beautiful fireworks display by easy tap operation! Touch the screen and you immediately see breath -taking fireworks in 3D graphics and real sounds.
Look Baby Allows your baby enjoy the visual and aural presentation of shapes, colors, and sounds.  Bouncing bunnies, flowers, and a teddy dancer, will stimulate the senses of your baby.
I Hear EweEntertain and educate your toddler with this simple game full of 24 different authentic animal sounds and 12 different vehicle sounds. When your baby taps on an animal or vehicle icon, the game will verbally announce what type of animal or vehicle it is and play a recording of its real sound.
The Wheels on the BusCreated by parents, Wheels on the Bus is a fun, interactive musical book, based on the popular children’s song. Come aboard the bus to spin the wheels, open and close the doors, swish the wipers, pop some bubbles, make a dog bark, and much more!
Encourages cognitive, language, and motor development:
– Sing and read with your children.
– Listen to the song in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian.
– Record your children’s singing!
– Hear the music played on a violin, cello, piano, and even a kazoo.
– Touch, explore, and discover fun surprises in the captivating, interactive illustrations.
Fish School Fish School HD is an educational app with an underwater twist that helps toddlers and preschoolers learn letters, numbers, shapes, colors and more, all while having fun.
Drawing PadWith the help of Drawing Pad, you can create your own art by making use of in-built ‘actual-sized’ option. The whole drawing kit includes markers, colored pencils, photo-realistic crayons, paint brushes, stickers, roller pens and lots more for your entertainment. Play with Drawing Pad application and save all your artwork on your Drawing Pad Album and later reload it as your masterpiece. You can even save all your creations to Read MoreiPhoto or share them through Email, Twitter or Facebook
Color and DrawColor&Draw boasts beautifully crafted, specially designed springboard drawings, voice recorded invitations for all drawing for children to add to or complete the drawings, a lovely color palette, multiple stroke and erasers, multiple ‘undos’ and new sticker collections including, transportation, animal and dinosaur stickers!
The drawings are simple enough for young children to explore drawing and colors, to go beyond realism and to expand the limits of their imagination. The voice prompt invitations give kids autonomy over the app. Each illustration presents an opportunity to enhance both skills and imagination. And, of course, to have fun with art making.
Kid ArtThe application consists of various imaginations that make us entertained by doing variety of work like drawing, stamping and saving all the corresponding masterpieces. Moreover, with the help of this iPad application you can easily share all your creativity with friends and family.
Toddler CountingToddler Counting & Alphabet takes a unique approach to teaching the ABC’s and numbers. Your toddler is encouraged to put together various images of dinosaurs from cut up strips. Each strip is labeled with a number or a letter, depending on which game mode is chosen, and has a corresponding the letter or number in the placeholders below. The strips are randomly scattered and the goal is to put the image back together using the the numbers or letters as a guide. As your child matches the numbers and letters on the strips with the placeholders, they are continuously exposed to the correct order of numbers and the alphabet that will help them better understand how to count and learn the alphabet. As a reward for learning and playing they are also awarded the final image and a sticker to place on the dinosaur egg. 4 options available: counting to 10, to 20, and learning upper and lower case alphabet letters.
Animal FunAnimal Fun is a simple animal learning program for children. Children learn about animals by seeing and hearing the sounds an animal makes. It combines an easy-to-use interface and fun sound effects to entertain children while they learn. Features 50+ animals, touch/tap ability to change animal and hear the animal name, the animal sound effect, or the animal name spelled.  Individual letters are highlighted as the animal name is being spelled, and the ability to set the default sound when the animal is first shown to “Animal Name”, “Animal Sound”, or “Spell Name”
Sound TouchSound Touch is targeted toward kids aged 2-4. Kids simply tap a picture in one of the six categories (domestic/farm animals, wild animals, birds, vehicles, musical instruments, and household items) and a photograph of the object pops up along with the sound it makes.
Alpha Babyprovides music pronunciation of English letters in “tune.”  Simply press a letter to hear the sound. An all ages app, it can be used for educational or entertainment purposes. Teach children how to sing ABC with the sounds of a female vocalist or Spell out names to a tune (T-O-M-M-Y).
Classic Simon – remember that game? Children and adults can enjoy a memory challenge when trying to repeat the patterns of red, yellow, blue, and green tiles that light up in patterns.
Kids ABC Letter Lite – allows for formation, recognition, and naming of letters in a variety of fun games.
Kids Connect The Dot – digital connect the dot game
 Image provided by Tina Phillips:
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