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App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Christmas Tree
By Sticky Ice Games
Cost: Free on iPad/Available iOS
Just in time for the holidays, you can decorate as many Christmas trees as you want! This app includes

  • 221 ornaments, trinkets, toppers, gifts, ribbons, and more
  • Animated snowfall, lights, and fun sound effects
  • 5 holiday songs, including favorites like Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies
  • 5 tree styles
  • 6 festive backgrounds — or set a custom background from your photo album
App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Cooking Fun For Kids: Healthy Playful Recipes, Food Games, and Videos for Kids in the Kitchen by Bean Sprouts
Cost Free
This app is a great way to introduce our students to healthful foods! Bean Sprouts has found that kids are about 30% more likely to try a new taste if the dish has a playful element (which is also backed by a Cornell study). Bean Sprouts: Cooking Fun for Kids, teaches kids how to make fun, good-for-you dishes, and kids can dress up their favorite Bean Buddies and test their "Pea Brain" with food-themed puzzles and memory games.  
App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Abitalk Reading Comprehension Apps
Cost — $2.99
These reading comprehension apps typically have twenty fictional stories about daily life
routines. The apps are separated by grade level and range from K to 5th grade. Each story introduces new vocabulary and concepts and is followed by a set of 8-10 questions that measure the student's comprehension. The exercises include multiple choice questions, true/false questions, and matching exercises. The app allows unlimited individual users and provides detailed reports on each student's progress. There are two modes: practice mode and test mode. In practice mode, the student is given visual and audio feedback as they answer each question. One of the best features is that you can create and add your own stories along with images and questions! All stories follow the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts in Reading.


App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Sentence Builder
Cost $4.99
This app is great for helping students work on sentence formation. Students can move the words around to build the sentences themselves. Start with the built-in sentences, then create your own sentences, use your own images, and use your voice to record your own sentences and words. Each word can be clicked for the sound of the word, too.

The app starts with simple sentences and progresses to more complex sentences. The sentences focus on daily life situations, with many references to numbers, colors, and dialogue. Level one is designed for kindergarten and first grade students. Level two is designed for first grade and second grade students.

App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Handwriting Without Tears
Price: $6.99
This month's recommended app helps with working on handwriting. Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase is the app version of a very well-known occupational therapy program that works on students learning how to write. Make handwriting practice fun! The Wet-Dry-Try Suite App encourages students to learn and practice correct formation habits for writing capitals, numbers, and lowercase letters.

The app simulates a Slate Chalkboard and Blackboard with Double Lines and helps children learn handwriting skills in the easiest, most efficient way. Handwriting Without Tears involves a proven multisensory approach and teaches children to write letters and numbers with correct habits and without reversals. This app can be used with your finger or with a stylus. Pen- shaped styluses can be found almost anywhere at very reasonable prices and in a variety of sizes and different grips!

App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Answers: YesNo
HD by SimplifiedTouch
Cost $1.99

This app is a simple, but important, app to have. Sometimes it is overwhelming when our students have so many choices of icons. This app is straightforward. It has two, large, color-coordinated buttons: one for "yes," and one for "no." Press either, and you will hear a voice read your selection.  
This app also gives you the ability to create custom button pages that will allow the user to place custom text and pictures on buttons, record custom audio to play when the custom buttons are selected, and save up to 30 custom button pairs. This allows you to narrow down choice between restaurants, stores, food, clothes, anything! Additionally, Answers:YesNo HD will support any language the user is able to speak!

App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Swapsies Occupations
By Spinlight Studio
Cost: $2.99
This is a great app for introducing different occupations to our students. It has mix-and-match games, as well as an interactive quiz mode to help their reasoning skills improve. It features ten occupations, including baker, pilot, mail carrier, doctor, police officer, firefighter, builder, astronaut, engineer, and rancher. This app also has the ability to track accomplishments for each child.


App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Healthy Heroes

Cost $0.99
Just in time for Thanksgiving, we are featuring the app Healthy Heroes. This is an amazing adventure game that teaches kids about nutrition and promotes healthy behaviors. Hungry monsters are attacking Yogopolis, and they'll keep destroying everything until kids feed them with fruits and vegetables!


Students can be a hero and save Yogopolis while they learn about nutrition and getting healthy eating habits. Why play this game? Eating healthfully is fundamental for the development and growth of kids. Children with bad eating habits have low school performance. Healthy Heroes is a fun and educational game that teaches children of all ages about nutrition.

For our students, the repetitive exposure to healthful foods might just pique their interest in trying some of them. Practice with this app before you sit down to the Thanksgiving table: the student will have an opportunity to see, label and try a variety of foods that they don't see every day.


App of the Month from Miss Kristen - Math Bingo

Cost $0.99
Math Bingo is a great app to practice math skills that involve, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The object of Math Bingo is to get a pattern of five Bingo Bugs in a row by correctly answering the math problems. Math problems are presented at the top of the game screen. Feedback is presented at the bottom of the game screen. The creator of this app is, which is an awesome interactive website that allows students to practice all kinds of academic skills in fun ways! This app is even available for Android users too!


App of the Month from Miss Kristen

Cost $2.99
This app provides an extensive collection of awesome games dedicated to learning and practicing a wide range of math skills in a non-traditional way. This app is organized into three basic stages and includes 18 games ranging from basic counting to early fractions. The app is designed around a bug city; each game is crafted for a basic set of math skills with an eccentric and fun parallel to our own society. The graphics are amazing and really keep the attention of my students!


App of the Month from Miss Kristen

The Best Sand Timer is a great visual timer that allows you to display to your students how much time they have left on a particular task. It shows the students in a concrete way when time will be up for a certain task. You can time anything up to 60 minutes. This is available on a number of different devices including iPhone, iPod, and iPad.


Parent Susan I. recommended Speak it! "Speak it! is a great app for nonverbal kids who can type. Just type what you want to say and hit the SPEAK button. It highlights the words as they're spoken. You can choose the voice and set the rate of speech to allow your child to attempt to talk along with the app voice. It has word prediction if your child isn't a great speller. Available on iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone for around $10."

Parent Velma R. likes Write My Name by Injini – available on iTunes, $3.99. "This app is great because it has a variety of different tasks and options within the app. The app has 3 functions of tracing - name tags, the alphabet (upper and lower case), as well as 100+ sight words. The app recognizes a stylus pen or a finger. In the name tag section, you're able to fully customize up to 36 name tags. With these name tags, you're able to record, in your own voice, what the name tag says and upload a picture to go with it. Once a name tag is completely traced, the real voice announces the name tag that was just traced. Name tags can be used for a variety of objects as well as names. The alphabet tracing is very helpful as it requires the child to fully trace the letters correctly and will not move onto the next letter unless it is completed. If your child traces out of the lines, there is a small chime and the arrow directs them back to where they need to continue. With other apps, my son would purposely get answers wrong to hear the elaborate announcement associated with a wrong answer. The 100+ sight words are those that are taught in kindergarten. Once the word is traced, there are animations that appear. This app is designed to help with independence and it has done just that for my son. Injini also offers another app called My First AAC, specifically designed for younger children with special needs."

Thanks, Velma and Susan for sharing this helpful info!


The iPad is such a great tool for students of all ages.

In the transition classroom, we not only use it as a communication device or to practice academic skills, we use if for many practical reasons too!

Age Appropriate Leisure Skills Training—There are so many game apps for the iPad that keep students interested while also being simple enough for them to understand and enjoy by themselves. Some of our class favorites are Fruit Ninja, Jigsaw Puzzles, Disneyland Tour, Mouse Trap, and Angry Birds. They even have classic games like Hungry, Hungry Hippos and Memory that you can play and not lose the pieces!

Spelling Help—Students who can talk but have a hard time spelling use the Dragon Dictation app to help them spell the words while completing work. This app allows you to speak into it, and then the words that you say are written on the screen for you.

Create Schedules Using the iPad—One of my favorite scheduling apps is called Choiceworks. This app allows you to create schedules by loading pictures taken from your iPad photo library into the schedule, recording your voice to tell the student what to do, as well as having the title written so they can read it. You can also add a timer to the activity so the student has a timeframe to complete the activity in. We use this app for having the students follow daily schedules, exercise routine schedules, vocational activity schedules, and even following recipes.

Grocery Shopping—Create albums in the iPhoto library of items that the student can shop for. If you have certain products that you always use in your household, you can take exact pictures of those items and have your child shop and match the item in the store aisle to the picture they are looking at in front of them. Pictures of items for them to find can be taken using the iPad, or you can download them to an album directly from the Internet. The Choiceworks app can also be used for this activity.

Visual Timers—Visual timers allow our students to see how much time they have left for an activity not only expressed in numbers (which they may or may not understand), but with a concrete visual of items transferring from one side to another. The app we use most frequently is the Best Sand Timer app.

Music—So many of our students love to listen to music. We pair listening to music with having the student follow their exercise routine to make the exercise part more fun, or we also will have them listen to music as a leisure skill. The Pandora radio app is awesome for free music, and if you know even one artist whom your son/daughter likes, this app creates a play list of related artists for them to listen to.

Part I: The iPad Protection Program

The first step in introducing any device to your child is protection. I have seen some devices that have literally been put through combat! Here are some tips to shield your iPad from destruction:

1) Safeguard! Since iPads are lightweight and can easily break (especially with the occasional throw across the room), use a strong, protective case. The Defender series by Otter Box, Gumdrop Cases (which have shock absorption), and the Survivor Case by Griffin (built to meet mili-tary standards) are durable cases.

2) Keep it dry! The TrendyDigital Waterproof Guard protects your device from drool, food, spills, germs, and more.

3) Turn your iPad into a protective AAC device! The iAdapter by AMDI houses the device in a protective rubber case and includes dual ampli-fied speakers to enhance sound. A stand, carrying strap, screen protector, and charging kit are included.

4) Put a sock on it! Stylus socks and Steady Stylus both protect the device from damage. If a child presses too hard with a stylus, it may crack the screen. For writing applications, put a sponge roller or tubing around the stylus to assist your child in using a proper grip.

5) Cover your HOME! A major problem many parents faces is that their child constantly switches apps by pressing the HOME button. One way to address this issue is to use a HOME button cover that requires a firmer press to activate the HOME button (

6) Log out! This may seem obvious, but remember to log out of your personal accounts before letting your child use the iPad. Some parents have found extra charges on their iTunes accounts after their child purchased apps without their knowledge. This actually happened with one of my students. While his parents were amazed at his technology skills, they weren't so impressed with the large bill!

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