Monday, November 17, 2014

Top apps to teach/support following directions!

Since I became a mother, I have lost count of how many times I've asked my kids why they aren't doing what I asked. No kid seems to "want to" follow directions, but for various reasons, some find it more difficult than others. One of our readers, Micah, posted a question for discussion time on Facebook about apps for helping children learn to follow directions.

Discussion Question from Micah: I am looking for an app that promotes following directions. Our OT has a game, Hear Builder, that starts with one step directions and then gets more difficult and includes background sounds as the child advances. Do you have any suggestions?

Information from the HearBuilder website about their program:

HearBuilder is a step-by-step learning program for PreK to eighth grade students that provides systematic instruction in basic concepts, following directions, phonological awareness, sequencing and auditory memory. Four award-winning software titles are available: HearBuilder Following Directions, Phonological Awareness, Sequencing, and Auditory Memory. HearBuilder gives students access to research-based, interactive programs by CD-ROM or online subscription. Students can use the software in the classroom, media center, computer lab and at home. Each program offers multi-level activities with progress monitoring reports for educators and administrators to track individual student progress and to track usage and progress across grades, subgroups, or schools.

App Suggestions:

** Please note: Some of these apps have in-app purchases, but they can easily be disabled in the settings of your device. There are also ads and social network links in some of these apps.
Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. All apps that we post as free are verified to be free at the time of this post. We make no guarantees otherwise.**


Puppet Workshop - Creativity App for Kids
Puppet Workshop was created to develop your child's creativity. Choose a sock or glove which will become a virtual puppet. Create the eyes, nose, mouth and hair using a variety of buttons, strands, ornaments, etc. Place the puppet on the background available in the app or upload your own background from camera roll on your iPad. Alternatively, your child may use some paper, markers, crayons and independently create his or her own background that you can use in Puppet Workshop.

(iPad/iPhone, $2.99):

More Cookies!

Mix, bake, and decorate virtual cookies with the most realistic cookie app on the iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone! These cookies look so good you'll want to take a bite out of your phone! ** No ads and nothing extra to buy or unlock!**

More Cookies! lets you bake virtual cookies just like you make real ones in the kitchen. Pick a recipe from the built-in cookbook, then drag the ingredients into the mixing bowl and mix up the dough with your finger. 

After your dough is made, you can roll it out (for rolled cookies like sugar cookies & gingerbread) and use dozens of cookie cutters to cut out a pan full of cookies, or drop bits of cookie dough on the pan (for drop cookies like chocolate chip or oatmeal).

(iPad/iPhone, $.99)

Nancy uses Fun with directions and more fun with directions by hamaguchi speech apps are great! Customizable, too.
Alicia agreed I was going to say what Nancy said

Fun With Directions

From iTunes:
Fun with Directions is a ground-breaking app for the iPAD, designed to provide a fun and engaging way to practice listening, following directions, colors, spatial concepts, auditory memory and auditory processing. From the simplest of directions (“Touch the cat”) to the more complex (“With your orange crayon, color the large one that is a furry pet and likes to chase mice”) your child can grow and learn with this game over time. Colorful, vivid art and animations against a white background combine to create a complete game experience without visual clutter. Sound effects and surprises keep the game engaging! This app is a great choice for a toddler/preschooler, or any young child who would like to practice listening to or reading directions!

If you would like to download Fun with Directions (iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:

(Full Version, including all 10 concepts, $15.99)

(Lite Version, including 2 concepts, $0.99)


Sarah recommended Splingo targets following directions and you can choose between 1-4 steps.
Nancy added My students also love Splingo.

Splingo's Language Universe

From iTunes:
An exceptionally high-quality, interactive game designed by Speech and Language Therapists/Pathologists to help children learn listening and language skills, from the authors of the Receptive Language Assessment with Splingo app and the exciting new Pronouns with Splingo app.

Your child will practise their listening and language skills by interacting with the images and animations on the screen to follow Splingo the alien’s spoken instructions. As a reward, they will love helping Splingo build a space ship and complete the tasks in order to get him home. His hilarious animated responses will capture your child’s imagination. 

Splingo’s instructions range from a very early level of language development, e.g. single word recognition, to much more complex, e.g. instructions combining several aspects of language at once. 

If you would like to download Splingo's Language Universe ($2.99, iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:


Donna said I use My Playhome and just give the directions myself making them as short or complex as needed. With it being in the home it makes the directions very functional like "put toothpaste on the toothbrush, brush the girl's teeth and put the toothbrush and toothpaste away."

My Playhome

From iTunes:
My PlayHome is the original and best dolls house app. Massively interactive, your kids can explore and use everything in the house. The characters eat, sleep, shower, brush their teeth and more. Want the room to be darker? Close the drapes! Fancy a change in music? Pop a different CD into the stereo!

No other doll house app comes close in interactivity, detail, ease of use and just plain fun!

If you would like to download My Playhome (iPad/iPhone), please show your support by using our link:

(Full Version, includes more rooms than lite version, $3.99)

(Lite Version, FREE)


Alexis suggested Leo's Pad

Leo's Pad

From iTunes:
Leo’s Pad is a beautiful, interactive, animated series of “appisodes” for preschoolers, in which your child will join a young Leonardo da Vinci and his friends on big adventures and play exciting games woven seamlessly into the stories. 

Parent’s Pad (a feature within Leo’s Pad) is the most comprehensive tool available outside of clinical settings to assess and provide feedback on preschool learning. As the Leo’s Pad series unfolds, Parent’s Pad will report learners' progress and analyze their activity using over 70 learning dimensions and offer parents insights on how to help their child become a better learner. 

If you would like to download Leo's Pad (FREE, iPad only), please show your support by using our link:


Jenni contributed I like any of the iluv drawing apps. They work on following directions and fine motor skills at the same time  virtual speech center also released school of multi-step directions. A review can be found here:

School of Multi-Step Directions

From iTunes:
School of Multi Step Directions app is built around the theme of school and allows children to follow increasingly longer and more complex multi–step unrelated directions in three different “classroom” settings such as English, Math and Chemistry Lab. The children are welcomed by the professor, who encourages them to work hard as they will be rewarded with “recess,” during which they can play a game of pong.

If you would like to download School of Multi-Step Directions ($18.99, iPad only), please show your support by using our link:


Personally, I have found that my son, who has Asperger Syndrome, does not do well with verbal directions. He processes visual information better. One app I have found useful to give him visual reminders is Stepping Stones Daily Routines. Instead of reminding him daily all the steps he needs to follow to brush his teeth, he can just follow his routine. Here is a previous review of Stepping Stones Daily Routines.

Stepping Stones Daily Routines

From iTunes:
Stepping Stones is a simple and user-friendly app which allows you to quickly create visual guides or ‘Paths’, using your own photos. Paths make great graphic organizers. You can outline daily routines and schedules or describe the steps of an event or activity. Paths also make great social stories.

Stepping Stones offers a clean and simple experience for children and adults who benefit from visual support, including those with developmental disabilities such as Autism, attention or auditory processing deficits, learning disabilities, or anxiety. 

If you would like to download Stepping Stones Daily Routines ($0.99, iPhone/iPad x2), please show your support by using our link:


Non-App Idea

One fun little activity I've done with both my kids to help teach the importance of following directions correctly is to cook with them. I chose to do something simple -- instant pudding. First we did the steps out of order - refrigerate the bowl, pour the milk, whisk it, pour in the pudding mix. They laughed at how silly we were being and that the pudding didn't end up correct. Luckily, we then just whisked it and chilled to salvag our creation. They learned that not only do they need to follow the directions, they need to follow them correctly. If things aren't correct, they may be able to be fixed with extra work. We also talked about if we followed the directions correctly the first time, then our pudding would be ready sooner.

Hopefully all these suggestions and apps helped Micah as well as anyone else looking to work on following directions. Do you have any apps or suggestions you would like to share? Please add them in the comments bellow to help other readers.

If you have your own question to ask, please head over to our Facebook page where you can easily enter your question for discussion by using the Questions tab.

Rachel H. spent years writing procedure documents for a software team. Even as adults, most seemed to have difficulty following directions.

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