Ditch your whiteboard for Bamboo Paper by Wacom, FREE until end of June

We used to hoard scratch paper for writing visual / written cues for our kid and adult clients.  Then we went green and shifted to folder-sized whiteboards and a bunch of whiteboard markers. Sure, they were light and were easy to erase.  These boards were our original, low-cost, unbreakable iPads!  But there was always the danger of decorating your own clothes with the marker, or accidentally erasing what you’ve just written on the whiteboard (if your kid client hasn’t done so yet).  Oh yes, we love our whiteboards so much, we’re letting them go on leave now that Bamboo Paper by Wacom has finally made its way to the iPad.

We are SO pushing this app to you iPad owners.  We’ve tried out several drawing and doodling apps, but so far we haven’t come across anything that was as responsive and as intuitive as Bamboo Paper.  We’ve seen Bamboo Tablets used by graphic artists (and many of them attest to its ease of use).  That was why we were tickled pink when its iPad version came out.  Start the app, and you are greeted by a sketchbook cover.  Change the title of the notebook if you so wish.  You can customize your sketchbook by

  • changing the cover’s color:  blue, green, yellow, purple
  • changing the ‘paper’s’ design:  plain, lined, or graphed

Tap on the cover and it flips open.  Your Bamboo Paper sketchbook can accommodate several pages (we suppose that for as long as you keep swiping for a new page, you’ll get a new page).  The screen’s upper border contains minimalist icons for:

  • closing your sketchbook and returning you to the cover
  • exporting your page via email, saving it to your iPad’s Photo Library, or by printing it
  • undoing an action
  • redoing an action
  • drawing pen:  with
    • three options for stroke thickness
    • six color options
  • eraser
  • clear page
  • bookmark

Look hard enough at the lower right and left corners of the screen and you’ll see faint arrow icons that allows you to flip through your three allotted pages.  We’ve tried to turn the pages by swiping at them, resulting to drawn strokes on the paper instead.

If you want to send the entire sketchbook off to someone, you can always tap on the upper left button to return to the sketchbook cover, tap on the Export button at the bottom of the sketchbook, and decide whether to email the sketchbook as a PDF, or print it out.

For serious graphic artists, they may find the Bamboo Paper seriously lacking in color, stroke, and drawing options.  But for basic drawing needs such as drawing a basic map when giving someone directions, sketching out an idea, or for instances when one is put on voice rest following the removal of vocal fold nodules, this app is a very indispensable tool.  We even use this as a tally board for our competitive young clients, as a drawing tool for Pictionary, or even as a simple reward for a job well done at therapy.

Use the Bamboo Paper with your fingers or with a Bamboo Stylus for iPad.  We weren’t able to find a Bamboo Stylus in the shops here, so we used a Targus iPad Stylus and it worked just as well.

FREE until the end of June! Grab this one now.  Usefulness guaranteed.


Games with Purpose 2: Smack That Gugl and pin down visual discrimination and focused attention

There are thousands upon thousands of game apps in the App Store and the Android Market.  A lot of these games are so engaging, it’s literally difficult to pry your iDevice out of your little one’s hands.  We all know how crucial it is to sit down and guide our kids in using these gadgets and not make these become replacement babysitters, but we also know that many games can be used at therapy.  Given the right game and the appropriate set of goals, a mediated session with an iPad or iPod Touch can be just as fun as doing free play on the device.  Want to work on prepositions? Your kid will love you for using Angry Birds and you get to work on on, under, in, beside, etc.  Want to work on increasing vocal intensity? The app Ah Up! (now $0.99 in the App Store) just might make little voices go loud without them realizing it.

Smack That Gugl is one game that can be used with a lot of purpose in the therapy room.  These little green blobs rise up from the screen, inviting the player to smash, squish, and smack them flat.  Of course, there are rules:  One can’t squish all the blobs.  Make sure your kid knows that:

  • each Gugl must be squashed before it turns red, or else one loses a life (or a turn, if you’re using the app in a dyad or group session)
  • smash the yellow and red ones twice to really deactivate them
  • don’t whack the chickenpox Gugl! Do it and lose a turn or life
  • blue and yellow Gugls split into two.  If one isn’t fast enough, they can multiply fast and turn red
  • if five red Gugls are unsmashed, they take over the screen and the game is lost

Excitement and the competitive spirit can easily highjack anybody’s visual discrimination skills and attention to detail.  For as long as your kid knows the rules (and learns from his mistakes), this game can help him slow down a bit and process each Gugl visually before he makes an action.

Smack That Gugl is currently FREE at the App Store! Try it out yourself (and go Pro Mode), and enjoy the game’s 3D rendering, cool background music and sound effects, and overall engaging gameplay.

Games with Purpose 1: Boost vocal intensity with Ah Up app, now FREE at the App Store

Another great addition to our list of free apps for Better Speech and Hearing Month (or Better Hearing and Speech Month, whichever you prefer)! It’s not every day that we get an app that can be used for voice activities, but today is apparently a special day: Ah Up has gone FREE!

The app itself is pretty straightforward: Have your little client produce an “ah” loud enough to launch the little quirky rocket off the bottom of your iDevice’s screen. Sustain the “ah” for as long as possible to make the rocket soar to greater heights. Tilt the device oh so slightly to make the rocket avoid flying into birds. Every time a specific height is reached, it marks that height with a line to indicate that the user may want to surpass previously set “ah” records.

It’s usually a good idea to moisten those little vocal folds and take a deep breath before starting. And knowing how competitive kids are, using this app as a game may end up making them shout. Remind them that shouting won’t make them astronauts.

Hit that download button and make that rocket fly!

Kindergarten.com’s ABA Apps have gone FREE for World Autism Day

Kindergarten.com's Apps

Kindergarten.com's Apps

To celebrate World Autism Awareness Day, Kindergarten.com has offered its ABA apps for FREE for the entire month of April!  Kindergarten.com has a handful of apps that are free all year round, but it is only this month that it is giving its ABA apps especially the Which Go Together apps and Problem Solving Apps away for free.

It’s apps like these (and the feverish downloading of free ones) that justifies why we need lots of memory in our iDevices.  Start downloading, people!

 

Ommwriter is now available for Windows (time to finish that report minus the distractions!)

Ommwriter, the popular distraction-free writing tool for Mac, is now available for Windows users for FREE! Now you have absolutely no excuse to not write that evaluation report that was due three weeks ago.

Just in case you missed our review on Ommwriter, check out the article we wrote a few months back. And just in case you missed the point: yes this IS a good, indispensable app, so go get it.

TapBase Gives Away 3 Apps for Free

One of our favorite app developers, TapBase LLC, is recently giving away three of its apps for FREE!  All three apps are useful utility-type ones:  a gear log app, a scanner app, and a phone tracker app.

GearID helps the gadgeteer/technogeek in you keep track of all your gear such as computers, cameras, lenses, bikes, hard drives, flat screen TVs, DVD players, etc.  One can use GearID to enter crucial gear data such as product names, serial numbers (eliminate the future need to squeeze yourself behind the TV or dig out the manual just to locate the serial number), purchase price, warranty dates and expiry dates, insurance details, etc.  One awesome feature is that you can use GearID to scan the product’s bar code to make data entry easier.  This app can sync your data to your computer, has an option to protect your beloved gear list with a PIN, and even ties up warranty expiry dates to your Calendar to remind you when your beloved tech stuff’s warranty is about to terminate.

TapReader is a QR code reader.  In case some of you are wondering what a QR code (or QuickResponse code) is, it is a specific matrix barcode that looks like a squarish set of patterns against a white background.  Scan the QR code with the necessary barcode reader (or more popularly, by a camera phone), and you get information about the product such as business card details (in vCard format), URLs, email addresses and even SMS and save it in your phone.

Finally, one of the most popular ones in TapBase’s roster of apps is TapTrace Pro.  If the app is enabled while the phone is on, it quietly runs in the background.  Should you lose your phone or if it were stolen, TapTrace Pro helps you locate your phone via GPS.  It can even text your phone and inform the person who is in possession of your phone to return your phone to a specified address and contact a specified phone number.  Messaging remains anonymous between the sender and receiver.  The coolest part of this app is that, if your phone is an iPhone 4 with a front-facing camera, TapTrace Pro can quietly snap a picture of the person holding your phone and send the data to you via TapTrace’s webpage.

While these apps may not necessarily have anything to do with our line of work as therapists, these make your iDevice extra useful.  We have no information as to how long will these apps remain free, so our advice to you is click on that download button and start getting these apps before they cease being free.

 

Fraction Time Pocket: A Dead-Simple Way to Practice Your Fractions

I don’t know about you, but fractions stumped me back in school.  Apparently they stump me until now.  Your kids may not need to be just as baffled by fractions as I was, and Fraction Time Pocket may give them the means to practice on these.

A very very simple and light app, Fraction Time Pocket lets one practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions.  It doesn’t teach how to work on fractions, it just gives problems to answer.  On the left side of the screen, select whether you want your problems in addition, subtraction etc., and on the right are two buttons: move forward (to the next problem), and check your answer (marked by a check mark).  As for settings, there is only one option:  set your largest denominator for the fraction problems.

What I like about this app:

  • dead-simple interface
  • big numbers (should be bigger on the iPad)

What this app could have included:

  • option to select how many items are to be presented
  • option to summarize performance in the form of scores
  • option for the app to show the correct answer

Dead-simple, we reiterate.  Not much, except for one:  FREE for a limited time only.  Download if you believe your school-age kids can use this to practice on.

Price: FREE
Weight: 0.2 MB
Released: 1 May 2010
Version: 1.1
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.  Needs iOS 3.1.3 up
Seller: Eric Danley (C) x19 Studios

Target Population: grade-school kids (depending on their school’s math curriculum)

Awesome if you want to work on:
  • understanding fractions
  • solving fraction problems

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 smileys

iSPeak App says: 3.5 out of 5 smileys

Model Appropriate Behavior with the Going Places App

Most of us, if not all, work with children with autism and other related disabilities.  We all know that these children have difficulty managing their own behavior in certain life situations.  We teach these children social skills via social stories.  Social stories give our the needed information about specific life situations and help them understand and learn crucial social behavior, and what reactions or events that another person may have in a given situation.  Social stories are geared towards making an individual more at ease in a life situation and help him/her generate more appropriate responses for it.

While we all have several books and picture plates that contain excellent social stories in our own individual workplaces, not all of them read the words (or describe the action in the picture) out loud.  SPeak App found a rare gem in the app Going Places by Model Me Kids.

For an app that has a number of good pictures and sound clips, it is pretty light at 7.9 MB.  The main screen has six options / places:

  • hairdresser
  • mall
  • doctor
  • playground
  • grocery store
  • restaurant

Select a “place,” say, at the hairdresser’s.  Each picture has the main scene, a short sentence description of what the child is going to do / is doing or what others are doing, how he felt at that moment, and the appropriate responses he made in each situation.  A voice plays and reads out each scene’s sentence. In each scene are 4 buttons:

  • home button
  • scroll back button
  • scroll forward button
  • play button (to let the entire story play by itself)

Each story has a little over 10 pictures.  Crucial social behavior are constantly pointed out in each place:  walking calmly, staying close to one’s parents, keeping one’s hands to himself, waiting for one’s turn, saying thank you and good bye, etc.

What I love about this app:

  • easy-to-use interface
  • straightforward main screen, making choosing situations easy
  • pictures appropriate for each situation, depicts good social behavior
  • with option to flip page as needed or to have scenes play automatically

What this app could have also included:

  • option to tap character to hear socially-appropriate utterances
  • additional situations such as how to behave in school or in places of worship

Price: FREE
Weight: 7.9 MB
Updated: 13 January 2010
Version: 2.1
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.  Needs iOS 3.0 up

Target Population: kids across ages

Awesome if you want to work on:

  • pragmatics and social behavior
  • answering wh- questions
  • narratives
  • problem-solving

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 smileys
SPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

Talking Headz: SPeaking and Singing Made Extra Fun

Kids love cause and effect activities.  Pair this up with an activity that encourages talking or even singing, and your entire session will conclude with flying colors. Talking Headz merges these activities together by enabling you to make parodies of each other’s voices.  Not only that: with this really cool app, you can make your own parody MOVIES!

Try downloading this app for free (yes, of course it’s FREE) and tinker with it.  You’ll find that you can:

  • record voices and play it back
  • choose what characters you want to play back your voice with
  • modify your voice recording’s pitch, speaking rate, and resonance
  • use present voice settings (deep, high, robot, monster, overlord, etc.)
  • change characters basing on the voice you have tweaked
  • save as a movie and upload via email or YouTube
  • or save as a movie and share via Facebook or Twitter

The free version of Talking Headz has several preset “headz” for you to tinker with, such as Green Apple, Baby, George Bush III, Chimp, Clown, Tabby Cat, Goldfish, Simon Cowell, Queen Elizabeth, and Spider.  You can download more headz via the App Store at $0.99 each.

What I love about this app:

  • easy-to-use interface
  • preview bar of available headz on the top of the screen
  • one can scroll across headz even during playback
  • customizable voice settings, down to pitch and even resonance
  • preset voices settings

What this app needs to improve on:

  • could use at least four more preset characters (boy, girl, man, woman) for a more functional video playback (family, school, play)
  • eye movements, even generic eye movements to add to each headz’s facial expressions
This app works across iDevices, but for the iPod Touch you will need an external microphone to enable voice recording.

Price: FREE
Weight: 9.0 MB
Updated: 18 September 2010
Version: 1.3
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.  Needs iOS 3.0 up.
Seller: Gigabyte Solutions Ltd. @ Gigabyte Solutions Ltd.
Target Population: kids across ages
Awesome if you want to work on:

  • facilitating production of speech
  • facilitating imitation of sounds, target words, target phonemes
  • turn-taking
  • pretend play
  • singing (or encouraging participation in singing)
  • creating and delivering scripts for narratives
  • story-telling, whether read or spontaneously created

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 4 out of 5 smileys
SPeak App says: 4 out of 5 smileys

FREE until December 1! Access Your iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch in Real Disk Mode using Phone Disk

Those of us who have grown up on Windows Explorer and/or Mac Finder may slog our way through iTunes, trying to figure out how to copy media into our iDevices or how to remove and archive apps.

For those of you who want the sweet simplicity of drag-dropping, Phone Disk may just be your thing.  Download Phone Disk, install and run it.  Running on very few resources, Phone Disk can simply sit in your computer’s taskbar until such time when you hook up your iDevice via USB cable.  Phone Disk opens your iDevice’s file directory via Explorer, Finder, or using your favorite file manager program.

Two things that makes Phone Disk useful:

  • it can make your iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch act as an external hard drive. Save documents and presentations on your iDevice and access these in a computer with Phone Disk installed.  Edit your files directly and save it again in your iDevice.
  • if you don’t have iTunes in another computer but you installed Phone Disk, mount your iDevice via USB cable, drag-drop pictures and view them in your iDevice.  That easy!

The word “FREE” always enters willing eyes and ears, so fire up your connection and get this program from www.macroplant.com/phonedisk on or before December 1 before it disappears!

Price: FREE
Weight: 1.7 MB (for Windows PC), 6.5 MB (for Mac)
System Requirements: Windows PC:  Windows XP, Vista, or 7 and itunes (8, 9 or later) OR Mac,  Intel processor, Mac OSX 10.5, 10.6 or later, iTunes 8, 9 or later

Version: 1.100 (Windows PC), 1.673 (for Mac)
Devices Recognized: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.
Seller: Macroplant LLC