Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sarah's Top 10 - Making the Most of Book Apps

I Like Books - 37 Picture Books for Kids in 1 App

I always learn new things from continuing education opportunities, but they also help me see things I already knew in different ways. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a chilly hotel conference room wondering how long till the next bathroom break when I heard a quote that made a little light bulb go off in my head.  I grabbed my highlighter and slid it over these words, “It’s the talk that surrounds the book reading that gives it power.” - C.M. Schuele  Fortunately, talking is one of my favorite pastimes, but this quote really made me think about the kind of talk necessary to help our children with special needs learn through children's books.  

Book apps provide countless opportunities to combine literacy activities with "the talk" that leads to understanding of new concepts. My students love using book apps and become more active learners because they can interact with the story.  These apps build vocabulary and teach phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension.  There are some amazing book apps available. These are my top 10 favorites!  If you'd like to download any of these apps, please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the link provided.

I Like Books by Grasshopper Apps

 37 books in one app is a pretty sweet deal.  These books feature gorgeous pictures on a variety of kid favorite topics (boats, trains, moms, snow, colors and more).  You can choose Read to me, Read by myself, or Autoplay.  You can even customize each book by recording your own story for each picture.  These books are vocabulary rich and work wonderfully into many common preschool themes and seasons.

(iPhone/iPad, $1.99)

Goodnight Safari by Polk Street Press LLC

Goodnight Safari
In this sweet story, children get to help prepare safari animals for bed.  This is a great app to use to naturally calm a child before bedtime.  I like to use it for work on following directions, as there is a task that must be completed on each page.  You can choose from "read along" or "read alone" options or pick a page to work on specific vocabulary.  This is one of my all time favorite free apps. 

(iPhone/iPad, FREE)

Even Monsters Get Sick by Busy Bee Studios

The cold and flu season is upon us and kids will love learning that even monsters get runny noses.  This app features awesome sound effects and little games to target visual spatial skills and following directions.  It's also sweet to see the relationship between a boy and his monster grow and change.

(iPad, $2.99)

Lazy Larry by Wasabi Productions

Poor Larry Lizard just wants to be left alone, but it's just too fun to poke at him.  This book features a lot of alliteration and rhyming which makes it a great choice for phonemic awareness activities.  Plus, it brings out the giggles in my kids.  Features a "read to me" or "read by myself" option and a parents' page with external links.   

(iPhone/iPad, FREE)

Edsel McFarlan's New Car by Auryn, Inc.

Edsel McFarlan (how great is that name) is obsessed with cars and goes on quite the adventure after building his own model car.  The "talk" surrounding the book is very important with this app.  Many of the pages have little to no text.  It's a great app to work on describing or making inferences based on pictures in a fun context that kids can relate to.

(iPad Only, $1.99)

I Hate Washing My Hands by Tinman Arts

Little Princess refuses to wash her hands through all her daily activities. It's a cautionary tale for little ones as they see the princess suffer a stomach ache from all the germs in her tummy.  When I downloaded and read this app for the first time, I thought my students might get scared.  They didn't -- they think it's hilarious, and it teaches an important lesson.

(iPad Only, $1.99)

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Oceanhouse Media

 This classic preschool song comes to life with highlighted narration, tappable words and pictures, and even a recording feature.  This is a great app to explore vocabulary and sight words.  It helps children feel confident because most kids are familiar with the story.  The rhyming and repetition of the book makes it ideal for phonological awareness tasks.

(iPhone/iPad, $2.99)

Goodnight Moon by Loud Crow Interactive Inc.

This book reminds me of sitting in a rocking chair with my twins when they were toddlers.  I love reading it again with my speech-language students.  There are lots of interactive features, highlighted text, tappable pictures and hidden objects to discover in Spyglass Dream mode.

(iPhone/iPad, $4.99)

The Kissing Hand by Oceanhouse Media

This sweet story about first day jitters just warms my heart!   My preschoolers love reading it at the beginning of the school year.  The "Read to Me" option has wonderful narration with highlighted text or you can choose the "Read it Myself" option.  The "Autoplay" option allows a clean read for younger children, and then you can go back and pick a page to discuss or ask questions.

(iPhone/iPad, $3.99)

Zoozoo Readables by Cavallo Media

Zoozoo Readables HD - by Cavallo Media
This app is based on a series of books designed specifically for early childhood classrooms. A lite version with one story is available for free.  The full version features 8 stories about popular zoo animals with simple often repetitive sentence structure and basic preschool vocabulary.  My students love to play this app over and over.  The repetition builds confidence and the humor-filled stories create plenty of belly laughs.  

Lite Version                         Full Version
(iPhone/iPad, Free)           (iPhone/iPad, $2.99)

Enjoy talking and reading through these delightful book apps.  We'd love to hear the book apps that you read with your children.


Sarah talks all the time and when she's not talking she's thinking up the best ways to make kids talk to her.

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