November 29, 2012

Grasshoppers, Apps and Alligators….Oh My!

Posted in Assistive Technology, Autism, Favorite Apps, iOS at 3:27 PM by kellyvansingel


November 29, 2012

One of my favorite app companies is known by names such as grasshopperapps.com, innovative mobile apps, photo touch apps and alligatorapps.com.  The apps they release are brilliantly simple, effective and all are customizable for the user you have in mind–and that user can be someone of any age or any ability.  This motto that is splashed front and center on one of their webpages says it all:

Highly educational and affordable. They hit this spot on.  Outstanding design and…..wait for it….most of their apps are FREE or 99 cents.

Let me show you some examples:

Photo Touch – Farm Animalsapp store – FREE

Use of real photographs on a simple white background make this app a model example of an app designed for children with autism or other special needs.  There are minimal distractions for the receptive language ID task at hand.  There are also visual and auditory cues that encourage error-less teaching.  As the user makes a correct response, the field of objects to identify are increased with each trial, so that the skill level is also increasing.  The customization options in each of their apps is also key: you can add your own pictures and sound bytes to build a personal experience.

Little Speller – Three Letter Wordsapp store – 99 cents

The dragging and dropping of letter tiles helps reinforce matching skills, phonic sounds, and letter order.  Like all of their apps, Little Speller can be customized to any user.  You can turn off sounds, hints and even remove the picture cue.

One of our favorites has also been

Sentence Makerapp store – 99 cents

The word tiles in Sentence Maker are similar to the letter tiles in Little Speller. Included in the app are over 500 phrases and sentences to reinforce language concepts and object attributes.  A  unique way we used Sentence Maker was by building a custom sequence of sentences that Gilly would use each morning on a morning walk around her elementary school.  The phrases included things like:

  1. “Good Morning Mrs. H!” (her teacher)
  2. “Go to the office.”
  3. “Let’s see the library.’
  4. “Time for a sensory break.”

Before the use of this app, a low-tech flip visual schedule was used to help her learn the names of various places in the school building.  It worked–but eventually Gilly would ‘tune out’ on the morning walk and require numerous prompts to look at / point to items in the flip book.  After introducing Sentence Maker customized with the phrases describing the various stops along the walk, the prompt level decreased.  She could independently and purposely build very meaningful and related sentences to the learning activity.  The fine motor planning aspects of Sentence Maker helped Gilly to maintain attention and focus.

Bitsboardapp store – FREE

One of the latest and greatest from this developer is their new app: Bitsboard.  It is what I would call a ‘portal app’ if that makes sense.  Check out this review of Bitsboard over at SmartAppsforKids.com.  This app contains hundreds of different flashcard sets that can be downloaded within the app.  The developer has also added the first of many great features and updates to come: the ‘Photo Touch’ game setting: allowing your desired flashcard sets to become a receptive ID activity.  It would not surprise me if eventually games such as ‘Little Speller’ or ‘Sentence Maker’ are made available in future updates.  It looks like Bitsboard is eventually growing up to be the ‘Big Kahuna’ residence of many great apps from this company.  And guess what….wait for it….it is FREE.

~KVS

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

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