I’ll admit that I’m a relatively new iPad owner, but I’m quickly trying to catch up in the world of fun apps to use in therapy sessions with kiddos. The Toca Boca family of apps has been on my radar for a while now, and I finally downloaded a handful of them this morning. Ranging from $0.99 to $1.99, these apps are worth every penny (and coming from a grad student…that’s saying something). I cannot speak highly enough of them and the endless possibilities they pose for therapy. Here are my current favorite Toca Boca apps and some ideas to get you going with all kinds of kids:
This app allows is intended for 2+ participants: the store-keeper and the customer(s). The store-keeper has the ability to choose 5 items from a pre-set catalog to be available for sale in the store. Once these items are chosen, they then “invite” a customer to come shopping. Each time the customer chooses to buy an item, the store-keeper must determine the price so the customer can pay with the limited number of coins he/she has in the purse.
If your kiddo is the store keeper:
- Lexical Development: vocab. expansion by adding common shopping items into the baskets
- Semantic Categorization: you ask the child to choose 5 items that are toys/treats/produce/items needed for X meal/etc
- Sequencing: “First we choose our store items, next we invite the customer, last we decide the price of the food”
- Social skills: targeted by inviting the “customer,” answering questions about items being sold in the store, ringing up the customer, etc.
If your kiddo is the customer:
- Following directions: “Buy 2 boxes of cereal and 3 bananas”
- Counting: based on the number of items they buy or related to paying for the items
- Problem solving: “Uh oh, we ran out of money, now what could we do…?”
- Articulation drill: fill the baskets with items that have /s/ in initial, medial, and final positions. The child must say each one 3x before buying it!
Colors? Symmetry? Art? Shapes? This app has a little of everything! Start with one of 3 blank butterflies and your kids can choose the colors to “paint” with as well as the mode of applying the color (circle stamp, skinny brush, fat brush, mini dots, etc). When you do something to one wing, it automatically appears on the other wing. Don’t forget to take a picture of your kiddo’s butterfly at the end so they can save their creation!
- Referent terms: “I want you to paint above/below/to the left of/under/over/next to/on top of/etc. the circle I just made”
- Color awareness
- Cause and Effect: what happens when I paint on this wing?
- Fine motor skills
- Semantic network strengthening: “We painted her wings yellow. What other things can you think of that are yellow?”
Toca Hair Salon (my favorite!)
If this app can entertain a group of grad students for half an hour, I guarantee it will be a winner with your kiddo! Choose your salon client (I love the lion) and get started with his/her makeover. The child can shampoo, rinse, towel dry, blow-dry, shave, cut, and color the character’s hair into any style they want. You can even regrow cuts that got a little out of control or add a bow at the end! The visual and sound effects are awesome with the app, and the characters will react to the types of hairstyles you’re giving them. In a word…BRILLIANT!
- Sequencing: “First we shampoo the hair, next we rinse the hair, last we dry the hair”
- Colors (what better way to practice colors than by spraying it onto a lion’s mane?)
- Routine familiarization: practice a visit to the hair salon to alleviate anxiety for kids who might have concerns.
- Opposites: short/long, wet/dry
- Social skills development/Play (plain and simple)
- Story generation: “How did the lion’s mane become green? Let’s tell a story about what happened to him!”
- Social role awareness: Ask the child to style the character for a particular social role or event: princess party/rock concert/business meeting/baby/teacher AND explain why they styled them that way: “why she have a bow?/why would he need short hair?/etc.
Well, there you have it! These apps are a ton of fun, and with a little creativity can be a great way to work on all kinds of communication skills 🙂