Free iPad apps I am using in the classroom

I currently have 1 iPad for my class of autistic children and I use it for 1 to 1 and group sessions. IPads are extremely motivating and rewarding for any child and the learning opportunities are endless. Here are some of the iPad apps me and my class love to use.

 

POCKET POND

Pocket Pond

by TriggerWave LLC

“Create relaxing ripples while you enjoy the sounds of nature. Interact with the fish – scare them, feed them, and watch their schooling behaviour”.

Pocket pond is a great cause and effect app which is a favourite of most of the children in my class. When the screen is touched the pond ripples and the fish swim away. The lifelike sound effects make it feel like a real pond.

 

GRID PLAYER

Grid Player

by Sensory Software International

Grid player is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app which uses widget symbols and speech. The symbols can be pressed to create a sentence. All of the children in my class are using the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and I am currently using this app with 1 of my pupils who is at a more advanced stage of PECS and has a large vocabulary. As I have not been using this app for that long, I feel I am yet to use it to its full potential. Grid Player can be used with different grid sets and there are over 12,000 widget symbols. I would definitely recommend parents, teachers and speech and language therapists to download and explore the communication opportunities of this app.

 

ILOVEFIREWORKS LITE 

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 18.54.22

by Fireworks Games

Ilovefireworks is another great cause and effect app where you can create fireworks displays by pressing the screen. With 3d graphics and real sounds, this is another favourite of the children in my class!

MYCHOICEPAD MEMORY

photo

By My Insane Logic Ltd.

“A simple, fun and engaging way to aid language development and learn Makaton.”

The MyChociePad Memory game is a simple matching pairs game using Makaton symbols. Once a pair of symbols have been matched, a short video clip of  the Makaton sign is shown for the child to practice. This is great for practicing and learning new signs. There are 3 different game levels so 4, 6 or 8 tiles can be chosen. Core vocabulary symbols and signs come with the free edition of the game and over 100 signs and symbols can be purchased for £4.99 in the full edition. This app will be great for parents and teachers to learn signs as well.

Another favourite iPad app used in our classroom is Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box (£1.49). I wrote a full review here

What are your favourite apps? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

My singing choice board

I do a singing session at the end of every day with my class of children with autism. Previously the children were taking turns to choose from a choice of song symbols and now I have moved them on to choosing whether to ‘watch’ an interactive version of the song on the interactive  whiteboard or ‘sing’ the song. The verb is colour coded yellow and the song is green to help the children place the symbols in the correct order.

What resources do you use for choice making for singing or other activities?

Sand timers for children with autism

I cannot stress enough how valuable sand timers are for children with autism and teachers, parents and any one else working with children with autism. Sand timers clearly provide a visual aid and count down to the end of an activity and can be used in daily routines and during lessons. Sand timers can be used in any setting including at home. They can also help children to develop an understanding of time. I always use a sand timer to show when an activity is coming to an end followed with a verbal countdown from 5.

Visual timetables for children with autism

Visual timetables aid transitions by enabling children with autism to understand what they will be doing next or where they will be going. Visual timetables enable children to be independent and can motivate children by making it clear what will be happening in the day.

The child removes the next symbol from the timetable and travels with it to a board by the next transition point (i.e the classroom door, next too or on the classroom table or another room) and matches it to a corresponding bigger symbol. A finished box or pouch can also be used. The photo below shows a big symbol for dance and toilet which is on the door leading to the dance hall and the toilet. The big symbols are changed before prior to the children making the transition.

big symbol transition

The different coloured timetables making it clear to the child which timetable is theirs. The children using the timetables above are working at a symbol level. Timetables can be made up of objects of reference, photos, symbols or words for children who can read and have a good understanding of text. Travelling timetables can be made on clipboards for photos and symbols and wipe boards for written timetables.

Poisson Rouge, a great online learning resource

If you’re not aware of Poisson Rouge, I recommend you have a look at it now! Developed by a team of linguists, graphic artists, musicians and educational psychologists, Poisson Rouge is an amazing free interactive children’s website full of activities and games and autistic children will love it!

The great thing is there is no text or instructions and the screen is easy to navigate. There are lots of great activities which can develop hand-eye coordination, mouse skills, number skills, reading skills, music, different languages, colour and so much more! All of the children I have taught across the primary age with or without autism could all learn and play independently on this great online educational resource.

“No text, no instructions, but carefully designed visual environments and soundscapes make
Poisson Rouge Interactica’s productions resemble nothing else in the interactive world.” http://www.poissonrouge.com/

What do you think of Poisson Rouge? Can you recommend any other great online resources?

Attention bucket for children with autism

After using the idea of an ‘attention bucket’ (which was passed on to me by colleagues at school) I looked further into the attention autism approach and found this inspiring video of a talk by the founder, Gina Davies.

The attention autism approach focuses on developing attention and listening skills and giving the children “an irresistible invitation to learn”.

Read more about Attention Autism here.

An attention bucket is a bucket full of motivating and exciting toys and gadgets which will be of high interest to the children. Gina suggests that the adult in front of the children with the attention bucket must be the most interesting thing in the room so everything else must be out of sight. I am currently thinking of new toys and gadgets to put into my attention bucket but this will depend on my new class. At the moment I have wind up moving toys, light up toys, a spinning top, toys that make noises and toys with balloons (e.g. balloon cars). Here are some of the items in my bucket:

The adult with the attention bucket demonstrates one toy at a time in front of the children, for example, winding up a toy snake and then watching the snake move. The reward must be intrinsic to the activity – the enjoyment of watching the snake.  If a child gets up out of their seat they are gently, non verbally guided back. This is to encourage attention and listening skills. Gina suggests using 5 toys in each short session. With my last class I usually had an attention bucket session once every morning and once every afternoon. Attention bucket activities are also good to use to refocus the group.

Related post: Attention Autism stage 1: attention bucket video and comments from creator Gina Davies

There is a lot of great information on Gina’s website Attention Autism

Many of my sensory attention bucket resources came from Sensory Toy Warehouse