Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Letters to Santa...with many uses!

Santa Express for Kids
I wish I could have posted this sooner, but this is a free app that I have used with both students and my own children.  It's an app in which you can write/decorate letters to Santa.  If parents/clinicians choose to do so, you can also follow up on and the child will receive a return email.  I haven't visited yet. Anyway, I like this app, it has some nice features.  You can choose the background for your letter, and many of the backgrounds are holiday-neutral, meaning there is a snow background.  I had one group of students write a letter requesting snow, so we addressed the letter to a weatherman.  We described the type of snow, the amount of snow, why we wanted the snow, and the time we wished our snow would arrive. So this app really can extend past Christmas if desired.  I think the snow request was my favorite use for this app.  Here are some screen shots from the app store.  The snowflake paper is not pictured, but it is when you use the app.   I will be using the snow themed letter after the holidays for some other describing and vocabulary goals. Other ways that I used the app prior to the holidays included:
--listing vocabulary associated with the holidays, then using each word in a sentence
--listing describing words (adjectives and adverbs) associated with the holidays and using each word in a sentence
--listing steps for wrapping a present or other holiday events..."How to" activities  (How to make a snowman, How to make a snowball, How to make hot chocolate, How to wrap a present, How to decorate a tree, etc).  I usually did the typing while the student listed the steps. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Toca Kitchen

I am sure most people have come to love Toca Boca apps by now.  I had to buy Toca Kitchen on the morning it was released on my personal iPad...Toca apps have come to serve as 'prizes' for hard work with my 2 young children.  Toca Kitchen is priced very well at $1.99 and includes 4 main characters to choose from.  Here are some ways that I use Toca Kitchen:

--Making Predictions/Inferences:  prior to a child/student beginning the app for the first time, I ask them what they think the app will be about and 'how they knew' or 'what clues' they used to come to that prediction.  During the app, I ask the child/student to make predictions about the characters, foods, and reactions.  Ex: What do you think the horse might eat? What do you think the boy might do if we don't cook the steak?

--Sequencing: After a child has prepared a meal for their character, I ask them to tell me the steps.  You can easily make this goal as easy or challenging as needed.

--Looking for subtle clues:  I remind the child/student to watch carefully for subtle clues...the characters all react differently to foods.  Sometimes they lick their lips or frown.  We then talk about why this might have happened.

--Social Skills/Pragmatics:  when in small groups, the students can take turns preparing items.  I have also had the students work together to decide what to do as a group.  This requires being 'flexible' and thinking about our friends, as well as paying attentions/staying on task.

--Articulation: This app is great for targeting certain sounds, such as /f/ and /k/.  I can pair this app with more structured drill of those sounds.  This app is then used to elicit words such as 'food', 'cook', 'carrot', etc. We practice saying sentences such as, "I can cook..." if targeting /k/. 

--Language: This app also serves as opportunities for vocabulary development and sentence formulation related to the kitchen/food group.

My son seems to find the cow character creepy, as it has muscles, chest hair, and a tattoo...but other than that, it's been a great hit with children aged 2-8 years.