c'mon get Appy (part I: Apple)

Editor's Note: another example of how entries go awry. I started writing this a couple years ago when I was working in the school system and had an iPad to use. Since then, there's been a multitude of new apps and developments and there are many better sites that discuss apps (I have linked some at the bottom). But read on for some of my thoughts on the apps I was able to use.

When I worked in the school system, we got iPads as part of a grant. My fellow OTs and I developed a list of all the apps we wanted, and then that list got cut to a very small number. So I didn't get to use anywhere near the number of apps that I wanted to or felt would help for work. But here are my thoughts on some of the apps that we did have access to.

IPad Apps I Have Used:
- Camera - This is standard on the IPad. I could (and probably will in the future) use it to take grasp photos. But right now, my main use is to have a large mirror. You can flip the camera to face you, which can be very motivating for some of my lower level students. I wish I could make it make a noise when it was touched but it's handy.

- Photo Booth - Also standard on the Ipad and I use basically as a mirror with a bit of fun attached due to the extra features.

- Dexteria - this app purports to be developed in conjunction with OTs. It has 3 games: Tap It, Pinch It, and Write It. Tap It requires you to place a flat hand on the screen and tap the finger that is indicated. I haven't had any kids in the preschool or the other areas I cover that have been able to get through the calibration, let alone the game itself. I find that the Write It game is too unforgiving for even my older and higher level students. Pinch It is my favorite of the games. It starts with stationary crabs, progresses to moving crabs, and then adds in visual discrimination in the color of the crabs. It can be difficult to get a perfect pinch on the crabs, and the red/green crabs aren't exactly kind to the colorblind. But it is a fun game and the kids like it. It also keeps track of the times for all the levels and you can review it later after the session, even after switching to another app.

- iWriteWords - probably my favorite app for tracing letters. It has a "connect the dot" feel as you trace the letters and short words. It was forgiving enough for most of my kids to be able to succeed, without losing the intent of the letter formation.

- Sam_Phibian - this is a really cute game that works on a lot of concepts. Little bugs of different colors fly by Sam the frog and he needs to eat the designated number of each kind. If he eats too much, he falls off his lily pad and is eaten by an alligator (implied). The bugs move in different patterns and speeds, and there are also fun things to eat that will put outfits on Sam. Kids love making Sam eat things by tapping like crazy. Following the instructions was too high level for most of my kids, but might be better for your caseload.

- KandyFish- I like this app. The music can be kind of annoying, but it is cute. In this game you can choose color matching, pattern finishing, or tracing (prewriting) games. There is also a coloring feature. I like that you can control which game to play, and skip through the prewriting shapes to get the one you want.

- AMaze Yourself- This app allows you to create mazes of different sizes and guide a mouse through to find his cheese. It's nice to have unlimited mazes that can be so easily customized but the sensitivity is very poor, so it was very frustrating for the kids to try to get the mouse on the right path. 

- Pocket Pond- we have the free version which is kind of limited in what can be added to the pond. But my low vision kids like the sound that they get for touching the screen.

- Tanganku- This game presents as having potential but didn't really pan out well for me. You're presented with multiple colored moving dots and asked to press the black ones. But the touch controls don't seem to be sensitive enough to consistently activate. And there's no way to customize the game, it progresses in speed and difficulty no matter the accuracy of the user. It uses the same pattern for each game and only lasts about a minute.

- Monkey Preschool LunchBox - I have yet to meet the child who does not like this game. There are puzzles, counting games, identifying colors, and identifying differences games all presented in rapid fire with an animated monkey dancing every time you get something right. It also lets you pick a virtual sticker for every 3-4 games done correctly.You can't pick the games or difficulty level, and there's no automatic continuing if you struggle badly on a game. But kids love this crazy monkey... it was a major reinforcer.

- Caseload Tracker - This is an app developed for SLPs to keep track of their school based caseloads, when reports are due, what their IEP goals are. I had caseloads of 80-120 kids, and was not about to tappy-type in each kid's name and goals when I already had this information elsewhere. We had an online IEP system so goals were available there, and also usually printed out in a binder for the specific school. Simple charts accomplished all this a lot easier for me. Even with the few kids I tried this out for, I didn't really find the app useful.

- Redfish- this app comes packed with a lot of additional games that may not be readily apparent in the description. There is a regular piano which will do playback of your song, as well as a funny noise piano. There are puzzle games, different activities for each letter of the alphabet, and various games to encourage understanding of cause and effect. I like the variety of games involved though some are pretty limited.

- Labyrinth LE - remember the old wooden labyrinth games with the metal ball? Super fond memories for me of my great-grandma's house. This app allows you to get the same effect on the iPad. I think you were able to choose which level to try, but I can't remember. I thought this would be a great praxis task, but it was extremely hard for my kids just to hold the board steady. Most needed HOH assist to stabilize and grade their movements.

- Tangram - This is a very basic tangram game that allows you to choose which picture you want to attempt. You can touch the pieces to drag into place. My kids had a hard time understanding how to flip the parallelogram and how to use 2 fingers to turn the pieces. You get a really cool fireworks display if you complete the puzzle, but the sensitivity is off so even when the puzzle looks complete, it doesn't register as complete.

- Injini Lite - This is a great game that I continue to recommend to iPad owners for their kids. This app offers tracing, pattern recognition, matching and some easier cause and effect activities for kids. You can choose which section to work on and it was pretty reinforcing for the kids. The full version is expensive but the lite version is a must-have.

Other helpful app resources:
AOTA 'Appy April series
AOTA list of OT related apps (members-only content)
Advance Magazine Speaking of Apps
Army OT Guy's Apps for mTBI


Frank Jensen said...

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for mentioning Dexteria in your blog. I think I know why you are having trouble with the calibration. You mention that the app requires you to place your hand flat on the screen; that is incorrect. One should place only their fingertips on the screen so the iPad can detect hand size and finger location. Placing the hand flat on the screen will not work.

I hope that helps you and your readers, and I apologize for any confusion.

By the way, have you tried our new app Dexteria Jr.? It is getting very good review and industry awards.

Thanks again for mentioning our app.


Frank Jensen
Chief Curator