Wednesday, October 12, 2011

iPad Apps - An Introduction

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I finally went out and learned how to take a screen shot on the iPad, so now I just need to get it out of Ayden's hands to actually get some screen shots of our "favorite" apps and get some reviews going.  For now, I'm going to start with an introduction to choosing apps to put on your iPad....  Because the most common question I hear from parents of kids with iPads is...what apps?  There are SO MANY out there and many of them have the same type of information just put together in different formats.  So where to even begin?  It can be overwhelming, and even more so difficult to gauge which apps your little one will actually use.  No one wants to pay for an app that isn't going to be used or that is just overall not useful.

For us, the first thing I did was make a list of things we wanted to accomplish with apps.  Communication, colors, numbers, shapes, fine motor, parts of a whole, and overall output of information were top for us.  Once I knew I wanted the apps to do, my search became easier.  The Apple App store is set up fairly well in that you can search for "color" in the educational apps category and get a decent amount of hits.  From there, I looked at screen shots, descriptions, and especially reviews.

Overall, I ended up with about 50 apps to try out.  Of course the real test was seeing which apps Ayden would actually instead of me even opening the apps I just let him pick and choose.  It became pretty clear over the course of a few days which apps he liked better than others, so I started removing apps and then looking for more to fill in gaps.  We repeated this process a few times, and each time I add new apps I just put the app on the iPad and Ayden will immediately gravitate toward new apps.  Sometimes he opens them and is done, but others he adds to his ever-growing list of apps he loves to play.

A great source is the website Moms With Apps.  Not only do they have fantastic reviews of apps, they also have something called Free App Friday, where they review apps and have either discounted or free apps specific to that day.  While this isn't set up for special needs kiddos, it is setup for family friendly apps - specifically to "promote quality apps for kids and families". 

Apps for Children with Special Needs is also a fantastic website to check out as a resource.  They review and have videos of apps specifically designed to help you decide if that app is what you are looking for.  They also have great programs for acquiring an iPad for those that may not be able to afford it.

I mentioned above how I use reviews on the app store to help me determine if an app is good to download or not.  I think one of the most important things we can do to help out other parents is leave reviews for apps - good or bad!  Just make sure you are constructive in why you do or don't like the app and how the description matches the actual app.  "My son didn't like this app" or "This is terrible" aren't going to help anyone make decisions, so be thoughtful and detailed about what you did or didn't like and why.

I'm going to start adding reviews for apps over the next week or two.  I have my list of about 15-20 apps that I'm going to give detailed information on their uses and how Ayden and Issac utilize these apps.  We have a unique perspective in that one child has FX/Autism and the other is on target for developmental milestones - I think it makes for interesting outcomes myself!

For now, please feel free to message me with any questions about apps, and also to leave your choices for favorite apps as well!  I would LOVE to get others input!  You can either leave a comment here, or look for my email address in the upper right hand corner of the blog.


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