By: Melinda Lancaster
When writing for young children, rhyme is the name of the game. Rhyming exposes children to one very big lesson- words that sound the same share the same letters at the end (most of the time, there’s always exceptions). Children equipped with this knowledge are more likely to “get” that adding letters to the beginning of “at” can make “cat”, “mat”, “rat” etc.
Now, lots and lots of books rhyme, even my book “Tyler and the Spider”, but the undisputed master of rhyme, is Ted Giesel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss. And, some of his best known works are the best apps that we have on Katie’s iPad. One of the HUGE advantages to these apps is that the physical copy is easily available and reinforces the whole process of reading. Katie finds it very hard to swipe, so she cannot “turn” the app pages, but she can turn a book page, and is learning how to follow along that way
It also reinforces that the same thing can be in different formats. I feel this is an important lesson as well. One day it may help her understand that a picture card can mean an actual item or event and help her communicate this way.
Another cool feature of the Dr. Seuss apps is that many come with the capability of recording different voices, instead of a stranger’s voice, mom and dad, grandparents, siblings etc. can all record themselves reading the story. This will definitely make your child more attentive. It also presents the ability for YOUR inflection, the emphasis you want to put on one word over another to be heard, and you can add things like, “turn the page,” or “can you find….
These books for the most part are straight up books, the characters don’t jump around if you touch them, which I like (an app can sometimes be too busy and overwhelming with different noises and constant activity) BUT you have options for “Auto play”, “read along”, or “read myself” and words highlight on Auto play and read along as the story is being narrated and if you touch a picture the word jumps out in large letters and is spoken, all very important tools in learning to read. Some people put the “closed caption” option on the TV to help reinforce reading as well, and this is much the same principle.
The only downside to these apps, is that they’re on the pricier side, usually $3.99 apiece. But the App Store now offers a group of five books for $14.99, a decent savings.
The other set of books I’d like to mention are the “Miss Spider” books. These were free when I got them, but are now $2.99, totally worth the price. There are two, Miss Spider Bedtime Story and Miss Spider Tea Party. Each comes with two narrated options, “Read” and “Watch” and three games, “Match”, “Paint”, and “Puzzle.”
The “Read” is the narrated book; you’ll have to turn the sound off if you want to read it yourself. The downside here, the words don’t highlight. The “Watch” is a video, the graphics are great and it expands upon the story, but there are no words to look at; kids will really enjoy it, though. And the games are fun and will keep children entertained. What I like is the comprehensiveness of this app. There are several activities that reinforce each other, giving the child and caregiver opportunities to talk about what they read or watched.
Unlike the Dr. Seuss books, though, the physical books are not as readily available, though I’ve seen Miss Spider’s Tea Party at the local library.
There is also an iPhone app in Spanish for Miss Spider Tea Party, unfortunately it no longer comes on the iPad. Beyond apps, teaching rhyming can be fun and easy and is a BIG step in reading. One way Katelin and I study rhyming words is on her chalkboard easel. I’ll write a list of “at’s” or “it’s” and add a letter to the
beginning of each, starting with the second one down. I also use blocks as a manipulative way, finding the “a” and “t” and then handing her other letters and helping her put them in front of the “at” to spell different things. There are a myriad of ways to introduce rhyme, and a library full of rhyming books nearby.
In the words of Dr. Seuss……”the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”
Melinda Lancaster is a children's author and a poet. Her books ("Tyler and the Spider" and "Grandma, Tell me If You Can) are published through Wiggles Press and her poem "Echoes" hangs in the Hyannis JFK Museum. After studying
By: Suzanne Golden, M.S., CCC-SLP
At work and at home with my daughter, I find that the iPad is a great tool for learning and fun. Technology is so motivating for children and I use my iPad as a therapy tool and as a reward. Often, the children don’t even realize they are targeting their therapy goals because they are having so much fun playing with the apps!
Here are some of my favorite apps for fun and for therapy.
My Play Home
Developer: Shimon Young
My Play Home is an interactive doll house that is entertaining for all ages! Choose your characters and move them to various rooms in the house to do some exploring. Your character can cook some food, jump on the trampoline or take a nap in the bed. There are always more hidden things to find throughout the house.
· Create sentences about what your characters are doing (He is eating. She is sleeping. They are jumping.
· Give your child verbal directions to follow using the app (“Take the milk out of the fridge, pour it in a glass and give it to the boy.”)
· Go on a scavenger hunt around the house looking for items that begin with your child’s target speech sounds (“lets find everything that starts with /p/”)
Developer: Smith Micro Software, Inc.
Choose your own sock puppet, scenery and props. Then, touch your puppet and speak into the iPad and watch your sock
puppet lip-synch to what you say.
You can create a short film where your sock puppet is the star!
· Create short social scripts and model them using the sock puppets. Watch the video and talk about the social interaction.
· Have your child practice words and sentences with his/her speech sounds using the sock puppets.
Then watch the video together and talk about how well your child produced the sounds.
Toca Boca Apps
Toca Hair Salon 2, Toca Band, Toca Train, Toca Kitchen, Toca House, Toca Store, Toca Birthday Party, Toca Tea Party.
Price: $2.99 each
Toca Boca creates colorful, engaging and easy to use apps for kids. Cut and style hair in the salon, have a jam session with the Toca band or cook up some food in the Toca kitchen. These apps provide hours of fun and learning for kids.
· Follow directions using Toca Kitchen (Find the red tomato, cook it on the stove, then feed it to the boy)
· Work on turn taking and manners using Toca Tea Party and Toca Birthday Part.
· Label all of the items you can find in the Toca Store and work on money skills/counting while you check out.
I hope you explore some of these apps and I look forward to sharing more of my favorite apps with you in some of my future blog posts!
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