iPad Apps for Foundational Literacy Skills & Language Development: Application & Implementation

AT Specialist Diana Petschauer demonstrates how many of the embedded features on the iPad (voice, text, grade level) can be utilized to address reading & writing needs of children with disabilities. PPT available for download.



- [Voiceover] So welcome, to the best iPad apps for early literacy and language development, I am Diana Petschauer, I am a RESNA-certified Assistive Technology Professional, and founder of the company Assistive Technology for Education. My consultants and I do travel, mostly throughout New England, but also nationally, to provide AT assessments for students to access education, as well as adults to access employment. Please feel free to join us on our website, as well as our Facebook. If you are interested in linking with us on Facebook and Twitter, and you'll keep up on the latest assistive technology news as well as all of these fabulous webinars that we are providing, including through CTD.

So we're going to get started this afternoon with a poll, a quick poll to see who's joining us this afternoon, so that is going to pop up on your screen, if you wouldn't mind taking a quick minute to answer where you're joining us from, that would be wonderful. You want to give everyone a minute for those of you who would like to participate. And so the poll should be up there, if you want to take a quick minute to let us know who's joining us this afternoon, that would be great. Gives us some great information. Thanks for putting that in the chat. Great. Oh, we have individuals from all over the country, that's wonderful. There was a beginner survey for this information, but if you don't see it, I'm happy to see it in the chat, thanks for participating. And we will move forward with the apps that I'm going to show you today.

So there is a PowerPoint presentation that goes along, and it will be posted on the CTD Cafe afterwards, so you will have a list of all of the apps that I'm showing today if you don't want to write them down. If you have an iPad, and you're following along, and want to download any of them, that's wonderful. So, just know that you will receive the PowerPoint presentation that follows this webinar. And we're going to get started. So, we're beginning, I'm starting with beginner reading skills, we'll be moving on to beginner writing skills, some storytelling with apps, some beginner math skills and then fun with literacy. And all of these apps are geared towards preschool through the third grade, so hopefully you find this information helpful. And we'll get started with beginner reading skills. And the first app that I'm going to show you is called Reading Train. I'm going to get out to my main screen here, and I use my search as I find that the most helpful to get to the particular apps that I want to show you. So it's called Reading Train.

- [Voiceover] All aboard!

- [Voiceover] And so on the bottom you can see, from the Reading Train, you can get to Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. There are free books, there is the alphabet park if you subscribe, but there's a lot available for you to do on this app for free. So I'm going to tap on Free Books, and there's The Blue Vehicle Book, The Gingerbread Man, My Book of Nine, Sea Animals, I'll go back to... The Blue Vehicle Book. And this is human-narrated, so it's not synthesized speech, I'm going to tap on The Blue Vehicle Book. And if I tap on the top of the screen where the title is,

- [Voiceover] The Blue Vehicle Book.

- [Voiceover] It is again, human-narrated, you see on the left hand side you can listen to the book, you can read the book, the students can then record their voice reading the book themselves, and then play it back. So I'm going to put on listen, or actually, I'm going to tap on read, sorry about that, the owl.

- [Voiceover] Vehicles.

- [Voiceover] There we go. So, as you tap on the words, the students can read it themselves, and if they tap on the word it will say it out loud, and they can also get a definition.

- [Voiceover] Vehicles. A vehicle is a machine that moves people and things from one place to another. Cars, trucks--

- [Voiceover] So, if they were having it read to them, this would read automatically, but if they're attempting to read it themselves, they can, and if they're not sure of a word, they can put their finger underneath the word, and tap on the screen.

- [Voiceover] Tap and hold a word to hear it. Here... comes... a... blue... Blue is a color. The sky looks blue on a sunny day. Car...

- [Voiceover] Now as the students continue to read the books they earn coins, and with those coins, they can go to the music store in the top left there, and they can use those coins to play one of their favorite songs, so it's reward.

- [Voiceover] Read more books.

- [Voiceover] So they read books, they play the train game, and then they get to earn coins in order to play these songs out loud. So there's a lot that you can do for free, or if you subscribe you get access to the alphabet park, and quite a few other options as well. The next one is Little Critter. Little Critter, All By Myself. So as you can see...

- [Voiceover] All By Myself, by Mercer Mayer.

- [Voiceover] These are Ocean House Media books. There are many books that are popular with students by Ocean House Media. If you search for Little Critter or Dr. Seuss, for example, you'll have other options for apps, but I much prefer the Ocean House Media. And that's because they all offer these famous children's books, with the option to READ IT MYSELF, READ TO ME, or AUTO PLAY. So, if I choose READ TO ME,

- [Voiceover] I can get out of bed all by myself.

- [Voiceover] So notice it highlights the words as it's reading, from left to right, so it shows reading direction and it's helping them to recognize words, decode them. Tells you when to flip the page, and it's interactive when you touch the screen.

- [Voiceover] Train, Overalls, Drawers. Drawers. Little Critter.

- [Voiceover] Now, also at the bottom, you see an arrow. If I tap on that arrow on the bottom left hand corner, what's great about all Ocean House Media books, are these options, especially the voice options. So you can, again, record your voice reading this story, or you can have the students record their voice, and it's really great when you're doing it with an entire class, in order to, have each one of them read a page, for example, and you can see under the options you have the option for read to me, hear the sound effects, tap on pictures, and you can also turn those off. So similar, as I mentioned, there's The Berenstain Bears by Ocean House Media, there's Dr. Seuss, ABC and many other famous Dr. Seuss books.

- [Voiceover] Dr. Seuss's ABC. Big A, little A, what begins with A?

- [Voiceover] So you can see it's literally exactly the same thing that they would see in the picture book.

- [Voiceover] Aunt Annie's alligator, A-A-A. Aunt Annie, alligator.

- [Voiceover] And if I pull up the other Dr. Seuss, you can see Outer Space, Wocket in my Pocket. Many of the famous books all available there.

- [Voiceover] The Cat in the Hat's learning library. There's No Place Like Space! I'm the Cat in the Hat, and we're off to have fun. We'll visit the planets, the stars, and the sun! Sun, the star, and the center of our solar system. All the planets in our solar system orbit around it.

- [Voiceover] So some of them even have definitions embedded throughout, really interactive story books. Again, I really appreciate the highlighting as it reads out loud, as well. So check out all of the Ocean House Media apps, that's where you're going to find the beginner story books, with those options. The next one is Sight Words. And this is Sight Words by Photo Touch. So, there are certainly so many sight word apps available. And again, when you find an app developer, you tend to like the apps that are available by that developer, and this developer... is Photo Touch. By Grasshopper.

- [Voiceover] Yes, there, you did it! Round... Purple... Super...

- [Voiceover] So if I tap back to go home, and the settings in the top right hand corner, you see that you really have quite a few options again, you can turn the sound on or off, you can display the hint or not, you can choose how many items are minimum maximum to display. So, again, whether it's the three items, all the way up to 10 items, you can choose how many are there to display. I can't see the chat window right now, so, just want to check in real quick to make sure, ok great, we're doing well. Now you can also choose first grade, kindergarten, preschool, et cetera, you can mix and match, as far as the sight words that you want to have available. Or you can just choose one of these at a time. So that is Sight Words by Photo Touch, and it is a Grasshopper app. Starfall Learn to Read. So, many of you may already be familiar, and fans of the Starfall free website, it is phenomenal. And there's a Starfall app. This particular one is called Starfall Learn to Read. So it will bring you through several lessons, you can see it begins with one. And at the bottom there are many options, alphabet order, vowels, chunk that word, et cetera. Tap on short A. ♫ Listen to the short A sound ♫ Aah, aah, ah ah, ah ♫ Short A makes this kind of sound ♫ Aah, aah, ah ah, ah ♫ Zzzz-aaah-ck. Zac. Aah. Zac is a rat. Make a word with aah. An, to match the picture. Ran. Ck, Puh, Rrr, Fff.

- [Voiceover] So I'm tapping on each of the letters to hear their phonetic sound, and then I can drag it.

- [Voiceover] Rrr, rrr, an. Ran.

- [Voiceover] So again, that one is Starfall Learn to Read. Sound Literacy, I like to show Sound Literacy for any Title I or reading teachers out there, or if you're just a typical classroom teacher who's doing the follow-up for any type of Orton Gillingham reading instruction, Sound Literacy is an excellent app for professionals to have. I'm tapping on begin, and just tapping on a student here. Default student. So it offers the colored tiles that the students would associate with sounds, you'd teach them those sounds, and then as you pull down the tile, they of course would say that sound. Now there's also all of the other tiles that you're familiar with, the alphabet tiles you can pull down, consonant teams, vowel teams, endings and rhymes, now, and these don't speak out loud, because you want the student, of course, to be doing this with you. But if you're familiar with Orton Gillingham, or use any of those reading programs, or ones that are similar, this is great because it has all of your tiles in one place.

Typically you, if you're doing this program with students, you're carrying around a lot of magnetic tiles, with mini whiteboards, and of course you can now just have it on the iPad, you can set this up for several students, you can just use their initials for confidentiality, if you prefer. And each time you have a student, you can be using their particular account with this app. So this is called Sound Literacy, the icon was that upside-down E, or that schwa. Hideout is one of my favorite apps, it is free. So this is called Hideout. You can see that you could turn the music off, but I think that the music is a great part of this app, especially for students during circle time. So I'm reflecting my iPad, you can turn it off if you want to. 

You can reflect your iPad onto any whiteboard, or with just a typical projector, there is the VGA lightning to VGA adapter that you can get for the iPad, it's about 30 dollars, and you can reflect what's on your screen, similar to what I'm doing, you could use a reflector app, or you can use the adaptor. So with the SMART board or a regular whiteboard, you could be projecting these apps, and either using them with small groups of students or the entire class. So while you're playing, it offers you letter combinations, that you can see on the screen, and each one does something different, and it's a series. So I'm going to tap on E-N for example, that letter combination E-N. ♫ So this is the letter E-N ♫ This is the letter N, nnn ♫ When you put them together, here's the sound they make ♫ They go en, en, en, en, en, en, en, en, en ♫ En, en, en, en, en, en ♫ There are lots of words, that end in N ♫ But none of them start the same ♫ So drag each new letter, to make a new word ♫ And we'll use them all in a little game ♫

- [Voiceover] So you can see there's plenty of repetition, I'm dragging the letters.

- [Voiceover] En, tt, tt, ten. Mmm, mmm, mmm, men. Good work! Now let's play a game with these words. Here are ten hens. Here is a pen. Let's put the ten hens in the pen.

- [Voiceover] here's a fun part, tap and drag the hens into the pen, a lot more repetition.

- [Voiceover] Hen, pen, hen, pen, hen, pen, hen, pen... Good! Now all ten hens are in the pen. Here are ten men. Tap each of the men, to feed the hens.

- [Voiceover] So I'm going to tap the men to feed the hens, this is quite funny.

- [Voiceover] Good work! Now let's read about what we did. We... put... ten hens into the pen. The ten men fed the ten hens.

- [Voiceover] And then you would choose the next letter combination, and it would be something different, I just saw... a question pop up there, but when I click on the chat for some reason the store says Hideout is not free, but inexpensive. Oh, it used to be free, I have to stop telling the cost of the apps, it was free when I got it, but I'm glad that it is only $2.99, thank you for sharing that. So still very reasonable. Next is MeeGenius. Again, all of these apps are listed on the PowerPoint that you will have access to. So MeeGenius does have quite a few books for free, and each day there is a new book, you can see on the screen now, today's free book, and you can choose to have that book if you want to download it. I just tapped on my books for my library, and you can see that there are many books that you can choose from the library, and then they will be in your collection of books. And a lot of them are free, some of them very low cost. I'm going to tap on Field Mouse and Town Mouse... and read this book.

- [Voiceover] The Field Mouse and the Town Mouse. By Aesop, edited by Meredith Hairston. Illustrated by Suvidha Mistry. Once there was a field mouse, who lived in a small burrow near a farm.

- [Voiceover] Hey, I've got your report cards, I'm going to bring them up in a little bit, but I just wanted to tell you that Christopher Cooler came today, but we were unable to evaluate him, so, what is that, is that a cancel? We're not billing.

- [Voiceover] So you can see that this particular app, again, allows you to have the book read out loud. It is natural human narration, not synthesized, and it does highlight the word as it's reading out loud. and I'm just going to let you know that I can, yep, I can hear someone's conversation in the background as well, thank you Donna, so not sure if the audience needs to be muted, on the Adobe end, or if you are an attendee, please make sure that your microphone is muted, so that we can't hear your conversations in the background. So now we're moving on to beginner writing skills. Many, many apps available for beginner writing skills, I have so many favorites, I like to show a good deal of them because not only do we like to have options, but our students like to have options, especially at this age, because they may really enjoy one app for a couple of days, and then they might get bored, and want another app that does something similar, but in a different way. So, they are similar, but different, and different students prefer different options, of course. So the first one I'm going to show you is called Word Wizard.

- [Voiceover] Welcome to Word Wizard.

- [Voiceover] So, with Word Wizard, you have quite a few options, including Movable Alphabet, Word Practice, Scrambled Letters, and Spelling Quizzes. If you tap on Movable... Ok, can everyone see my iPad? Hopefully, we're getting going here again, I've got a couple chats here, yes, alright, awesome! Woohoo, success, thank you Anna. So I'm sorry about those technical difficulties, it was pretty odd, I just saw a blank screen and lost all audio and connection, and I'm glad you hung in there, thanks for sticking around. And we will continue with our apps. So we are, now, again, in beginner writing skills. And we looked at Word Wizard, and I'm going to pull up Letter School. So Letter School.

- [Voiceover] Letter School! Cool!

- [Voiceover] So it is based on Handwriting Without Tears, very interactive engaging. In the settings you can see you can choose upper case, lower case, or numbers. As well as the type style. Now each letter that you press on does something different.

- [Voiceover] This is the letter A. For aah, aah, aah.

- [Voiceover] And again, based on Handwriting Without Tears it starts with full support, and then fades back, so that the student is writing on their own. Are you not seeing the screen right now? Or is that coming from someone else? Ok, so, I'm sharing my screen in the app, and some people are saying that they can see it, and others are saying that they can only see the PowerPoint, I'm just going to keep going, I believe if you can see the PowerPoint, you just need to tap your screen again, so that you can see the iPad screen.

- [Voiceover] This is the letter A. For aah, aah, aah.

- [Voiceover] Thanks for that advice Mary, for her to refresh. So when I press on the first star on the screen, to the left, if I try to start the letter where I'm not supposed to, it won't let me. So I tap on the dots, and it helps draw the letter for me, and now the second star, I get the prompts and now I am drawing it with my finger. I can use my finger, I could use a stylus, which is the pen that you can write on the iPad with, or the utensil, so if you want them to practice holding a pencil-like tool, you can certainly do that, or use their finger. So very actively engaging, and again, each letter does something different. I'm going to press on the third star... And now when I begin to write the letter with my finger, all of this is going to fade away, and I'm on my own to draw this letter. If I go off the path... if I do it too many times eventually I will get support, and then I can go to the next letter. So very engaging, the students will definitely want to see what each letter does, letters, upper case, lower case, as well as numbers available. Another one that's similar, but just a little bit different, is called Writing Wizard. Let's see, I have so many apps with the word writing in there. So Writing Wizard is similar, this also has shapes, and whole words, if I tap on the alphabet letters, for example, and the letter A,

- [Voiceover] A, aah.

- [Voiceover] So it shows the student how to draw the letter and then asks them to follow along by giving those visual prompts. So now I'm using my finger to draw this letter, again, you could use a stylus if you wanted to use a writing utensil. And what's different about this particular app, when you go back out to the home page, you notice in the top right it says Profiles and Reports. Very helpful for teachers, as well as OTs, so you can there I could go to tracings histories, and you can set this up for several students, and I can go to... the tracing history and replay how this student drew this letter. So you can keep track of their progress, which is really neat. Pocket Phonic... Or Pocket Phonics. This combines reading and writing, set it up again for several students.

- [Voiceover] Say, sss.

- [Voiceover] So it says the sound. And tells them to say it, and then asks them to write it. Yes, thank you for your comments. Many of these apps are very similar to Handwriting Without Tears. The next one is called Ready to Print. So, again, many of these are similar, sometimes it's nice to have the different features, it's nice to have choices, for students to have choices.

- [Voiceover] Choose an activity.

- [Voiceover] So with Ready to Print, you can see that you can choose Pinching, Touch and Drag, Tracing Letters is there, I'm going to choose Paths.

- [Voiceover] Paths. Select starting level, then tap go below. You'll start at the bee, and draw a line inside the path to the beehive. Start at the girl, and draw a line inside the path to the ball. Oh, you did it!

- [Voiceover] So I want to show you in the settings for this particular app, again you can choose many different things, you can turn the voice prompts on or off, and to the right you can see the accuracy that they need to advance. So are you going to let them go outside of the line a little, is that going to be ok, change the width for tracing, as well as the size for the pictures. And then there's also pinching activities. Clicker Sentences. So if you're familiar with the Clicker software that allows you to write with whole words or word banks, along with picture support, now there are apps by the same software, Crick Software. And you can see that you'll have access to about 600 learning grids, when you have these particular apps, and when you tap on the words in the word bank, they do speak out loud and highlight.

- [Voiceover] I... like... books. I like books.

- [Voiceover] This is just one particular series called "I like." And when you open up the settings, you can see on the left hand side, you can edit, or add those sentences. So you can personalize these writing activities for your student, put in what they like. You can see at the top right, the model sentence can be there on the grid, or in a pop-up, or just spoken. And those words that are in the word bank can be in alphabetical order, random order, you can start them in sentence order, or guided order. And you can also change the color background, and in the bottom left you can see that you can choose a different picture from their photo library, or that little camera icon in the bottom left, allows you to take a picture with that iPad camera. So you can personalize all of these pictures and sentences to your students based on the activity, based on their preferences, and they can be learning to write sentences.

Of course this is great academically, this is also a great app for those social stories that you might need to take their picture and involve them in. And if I go back out to the main menu, you can see, these are just a few of the learning grids that I've pulled up, At the Playground, The Food Chain, Numbers to 10, Toys and Materials, there's science ones in here, How a Seed Grows, and things of that nature. If you tap on the learning grids once you sign into here, you'll see that you have access to really so many options, and then personalize them, so why reinvent the wheel? You could start from scratch, or you can just personalize and edit these learning grids. Dexteria, all of the Dexteria apps, Dexteria Jr., Dexteria Dots, they're all great for fine motor activities such as Trace and Erase, Squish the Squash, or Pinch the Pepper. So I'm using my fingers on the screen to pinch the peppers. Not doing a very good job at this angle, there we go.

But check out all of the Dexteria apps, they are wonderful for fine motor skills, and again you'll have the PowerPoint to get through all of the apps that I didn't get to show today because of technical difficulties, but I'm gonna go ahead and go to one of the storytelling apps, Story Patch, for example. So you can create a new story, and you can see, tap here to start, tap here to choose a theme and build a story, Or tap here to write your own without any help. So I'm going to choose to write a story with help. And you can see now, it comes up with some prompts. Choose a story that you would like to build, today is my birthday, a trip to the zoo, a tea party with friends, saving the world. I'm going to choose saving the world. And now you tap on each of the red buttons to build your story. What is the name of your town? Well, let's see, the name of my town is Wolfeboro.

Next one, where were you before your town was attacked? Watching TV, reading a book, playing with friends, let's go with playing with friends. Who attacked your town? Giant bugs, evil magicians, or aliens. Definitely was aliens. How will you defeat your attackers? I'm a master negotiator, oh my, all of our students are. I have super strength, I have magical powers. Absolutely! And, how will you celebrate your victory? There will be a parade, a small party at home, no party, just doing my job. Of course there will be a parade. And now, go. So now I can start, I can name my story, How I Saved My Town, and you can see on the left hand side, you can begin with drawing right inside here, you can pull up story characters, choose from theirs, or build your own, animals and objects, scenery, a really great comprehensive app for storytelling, build a story together in small groups, as a class, there's several others, such as Story Creator, or Pictello, again, these are great for creating stories, all about me, or, social stories, and they're very simple. You can pull up that tool bar and you can see that you could add a picture by taking a photo, you can add text just by typing it in, and you can add color as well as audio, so they can narrate these stories, and they're very quick and easy to do. So there's a list of several others, Storypanda, Pictello, Story Creator, My Story, quite a few out there for creating stories, and they are, again, in that PowerPoint. For some beginner math skills, I love Park Math HD.

- [Voiceover] Duck, duck, moose.

- [Voiceover] So this is a Duck, Duck Moose app, and again another app developer that's great.

- [Voiceover] Park Math. Today we're going to learn how to count-- Swing and count with me. One... Two... Three...

- [Voiceover] And if I tap on the kite up in the top left, it brings me to other activities, so there's patterns for example,

- [Voiceover] Help me finish the pattern. Excellent!

- [Voiceover] There's also addition and subtraction.

- [Voiceover] If one duck climbs up, how many will be at the top of the slide? Five. Nice work!

- [Voiceover] There's sorting and...

- [Voiceover] Sort the dogs from small to large. Thumbs up!

- [Voiceover] There's our apple tree, there we go, so, subtraction.

- [Voiceover] If two apples fall down, how many will remain on the tree? One, two, three. Way to go!

- [Voiceover] So that's Park Math HD, there's also Caterpillar HD for those of you who are Very Hungry Caterpillar fans.

- [Voiceover] Counting with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Level one. Please eat the apple. One. One apple.

- [Voiceover] So again, you can go through several levels, all the way up to level five, that is the... Caterpillar HD. I also like Hungry Guppy.

- [Voiceover] Put the two dots together, One... Two... One... Two...

- [Voiceover] So we're running out of time unfortunately, we got to some reading, writing and math, there's some Peekaboo Barn, there are apps for life cycles, and, as well as some fun with literacy, like Monster at the End of This Book with Grover, there's Peekaboo Barn, Dragon Brush, they're all listed in the PowerPoint presentation that will be available for you on the CTD website, under CTD Cafe, and just want to remind all of you, sorry again for the technical difficulties, thank you for hanging in there, there will be an online discussion, so I will be able to discuss the apps that I didn't show today, if you're interested, and you can ask questions, and we can continue discussing these apps for about a week, if you'd like to join us, certainly please do that. And there is an evaluation survey, the link will be in the forum, and if you would fill out that evaluation survey, you can get your attendance certificate. So the link is there for you, thank you for putting that in the chat, and I see one question: If any of these apps are available on Android, can you mention which ones? So, some of them, or similar ones are available on Android, I have them on the iPad this evening, but I'm happy to put that into the week-long chat forum, so if you check it out there, we can definitely discuss iPad apps as well as Android apps, if you'd like to join us this week, and I will certainly post that information. Thank you for joining.