When Sonya was just a few months old, her speech therapist pulled out an iPad during one of our sessions and opened the game “Peekaboo Barn” I was immediately concerned. I had always been told that screen time was bad for kids. It seemed almost like a cop-out and it wasn’t until after the session when I brought up these concerns that I began to understand the benefit that this amazing device can have for kids with hearing loss.
Today, Sonya’s iPad has become one of our most important speech therapy tools. At the same time, we must use it responsibly. Our philosophy is that it is okay in small doses and in specific contexts. Sonya can use her iPad in the car or airplane, and at restaurants. We try to focus on active entertainment (i.e. games) as opposed to passive entertainment (TV shows or movies). It’s also a great way to motivate Sonya to put her CIs back on, as I wrote about here.
Here are some of our favorite games for hearing loss. I’d love to hear your recommendations, too…
TODDLER JUKEBOX – Tiptap, Inc. (Free or $1.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: This app has great music (acoustic guitar and vocal) that is relatively not annoying, and a simple animated display of a picture spinning around and around. Sonya loved looking at the picture as a baby and now sings along to the songs. We used it as a speech tool by playing the song, dancing with Sonya to the music, and then pushing the pause button and saying “stop!” This encouraged Sonya to learn to listen when she was just activated.
PEEKABOO BARN – Night & Day Studios, Inc. (Free)
WHY WE LIKE IT: This app is a great tool to build vocabulary. In addition to Peek-A-Boo-Barn, look for PEEKABOO Trick-Or-Treat, PEEKAZOO, PEEKABOO Wild. They are all wonderful. Graphics are cute and simple. This was our go-to when Sonya was six months to a year.
MY VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR – Story Toys ($4.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: Beautifully animated (just like the book!) We are in love with this game. Sonya’s caterpillar crawls across the screen, plays different games, skates in the winter and glides on a boat in the summer (the game coordinates to the season of the year, amazingly) and above all – EATS! This is a great game to encourage hand-eye-coordination and teaching children how to use a touch screen, which in my opinion is only going to become more and more important.
FUN WITH DIRECTIONS – Hamaguchi Apps for Speech, Language & Auditory Development ($15.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is an incredible tool to help kids learn how to listen. The app gives simple directions (which you can make increasingly complex), and at the end of each round, the child gets a “Superstar Direction” in which the child is asked what he or she was just asked to do. Great for listening and auditory memory. There are no in-app purchases – so it’s worth the initial investment i.m.h.o.
WHAT’S THAT SOUND? LEARNING TO LISTEN AND IDENTIFY SOUNDS – Different Roads to Learning, Inc. ($1.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is an interactive game where players match objects with their associated sounds. It’s simple, but it keeps Sonya’s attention. You can also add / remove pictures from the choices.
DANIEL TIGER’S DAY & NIGHT – PBS KIDS ($2.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: In addition to enhancing language (comprehension, asking questions, following verbal directions, etc.), we just love how Daniel Tiger teaches social skills – beyond any video or game I have yet to encounter. Sonya loves listening to the “Goodnight Daniel” song and it even helped us (somewhat) with our own bedtime routine.
BLUE HAT, GREEN HAT – SANDRA BOYNTON – By Loud Crow Interactive, Inc. ($2.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: It’s an e-book, essentially but much more since the pictures do fun and surprising things. Sonya can choose to read the book herself or have it narrated. A great tool for language comprehension and vocabulary as well as sound awareness. They have adapted a number of Sandra Boynton books and we have all of them, I think.
WRITING WIZARD FOR KIDS – By L’Esacapadou ($4.99)
WHY WE LIKE IT: A great tool to teach all kids how to properly write in a fun and rewarding way. Sonya is learning her letters now and traces each letter in the app. Then she gets a fun surprise. Writing Wizard encourages kids to start each letter from the top and also helps associate words with their first letter.
What have your kids been loving lately? Please share below!