There’s no question about it. Kids are drawn to shiny, colorful, interactive smartphones and tablets just like their parents.
There are thousands of apps out there, offering all kinds of learning opportunities – from subtle lessons taught through play to more overt approaches like online flash cards.
I asked some of our employees who work with children to recommend their favorite apps for learning. It’s the start of a new school year so one of these may be the perfect help for a homework challenge.
If not, these apps may prove to be a great way to pass time with your kids while waiting at the doctor’s office or for a restaurant table to open up.
They range in price from $1 to $10. Some have free basic editions so you can try them before investing in the more deluxe version. The apps typically have editions for both smartphones and tablets.
Shelly Vaughn, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech and language pathologist
An app I use a lot with kids with speech/language disorders is called My Play Home. It’s set up with family members and a house, where they can do specific things in each room.
For example, in the kitchen, they can prepare and eat food and wash dishes. In the yard, they can grow and eat vegetables, swing, play in a treehouse, and jump on a trampoline.
In my experience, kids from ages 2 to 8 have fun with it. I particularly like to use it in therapy to develop language skills, such as following directions, answering questions, pronouncing pronouns and verbs, forming sentences and describing pictures.
I also use it as a general reward for reinforcing all sorts of therapy tasks. The kids enjoy it without it seeming like work.
Dalin Pulsipher, PhD
My personal favorite app is Endless Alphabet. It’s a great way to learn both letters and words, and my son has learned some excellent words from it.
Choiceworks is a nice way to help kids learn daily routines and devise schedules using pictures and timers.
Molly Kohut, MA, PCC, ATR-BC
Art therapy coordinator
Here are some of my patients’ favorite art apps:
Bloom is a great way to relax with minimal movement. You can choose the color scheme upon starting. Slight movements will allow the participant control over soothing images and sounds.
A great app for making collages and telling stories is Educational ZoLO Creative Play Sculpture. This iPad-only app offers a lot of open-ended fun and spontaneity with colors and shapes. Once you choose a shape, you can make the image larger or smaller and control placement. There are no wrong choices and every participant becomes an artist and creator.
Art Set is an iPad app that allows exploration of various drawing and painting materials. The artist can make colorful images from the vast supply of materials and colors available without ever making a mess. There’s also a pocket version for iPhone.
Martha Stewart CraftStudio allows you to make cute, crafty cards [and is free through Snapfish]. There are papers, stamps and stickers available. Make sure to try the glitter!
Reach Out & Read coordinator
Splash Math has specific apps for your child’s grade level and offers lots of developmentally-appropriate math practice made to be fun. My kids know it’s a rule to play Splash Math for 20 minutes before any other app. There is a limited free version if you want to try it first.
Scribble Press is an iPad app used to create, share and publish stories. We love this because the kids get to use their imagination and import almost anything into their own story. Best part: It’s free!