My 99: Reviews of iPad Apps for Kids

Posted Tuesday August 16, 2011 by Melissa

App Store

There are a LOT of apps for the iPad. A LOT. It can be quite a job to sift through the apps that are just for fun, much less evaluate the educational apps for children with special needs.This post will include a short summary and my best attempt to rate the apps we’ve come across. Although I always have Case in mind (since this is his iPad), we have two other children who test many of these apps as well, so at least for us, these ratings are applicable across the board.

My First PuzzlesSources for the list. When Case got his original iPad from the school system, they had already loaded many different speech therapy, educational, and “reward” apps (those apps that are just fun that the child gets to do intermittently between educational apps to reward them for their work). When we began the process of thinking about Case having an iPad 2 that would allow us to change the apps, add Netflix and Skype for traveling with the trial, and basically tailor it to his ever changing needs, I started collecting lists of educational apps and special needs apps, comparing them, discarding some, and finding the ones we preferred. Add to that some recommendations from friends (some of whom are in special education), some free apps I’ve tested, and other non-kid apps that are helpful when you have a child with special needs (or sometimes, any child at all).

Additional advice:

  1. Use the app AppShopper to find apps that used to cost money but have become free, sometimes for a short a time as a day. Set the filters to Free, Price Drops, All, and All Categories. Check it every 1-2 days to start getting a bunch of new apps for free. There are always a lot of games, but it only takes a minute or two to sift through and find new apps for free that you can just delete if you don’t like them. About 10 apps on our list were obtained free from this, although only a few have become hits.
  2. Consider the advantages and disadvantages with jailbreaking your iPad or iPhone. I never intended to even know what this practice was until I was shocked to find there was no way to keep Case from jumping in and out of apps quickly and from going into apps that were too sophisticated for him and where he could wreak havoc. So basically, we jailbroke Case’s iPad solely to use IncarcerApp and Lockdown Pro (see list for description), but I’ve since found additional tweaks and jailbroken apps that are helpful. We’ve not experienced any problems related to jailbreaking and the usefulness of these apps has far outweighed the risks for us. Your decision may be different.
  3. Every child is different, so take these with a grain of salt.
  4. My ratings are an analysis of the value of the app compared to the price for our family – a 4-year old child with special needs and a changing cognitive level, as well as a kindergartener and first grader. You may decide that an app I’ve given 1 * to is fabulous for your child!
  5. New apps are coming out all the time, so this list could be totally different a year from now!
  6. Please comment with additional app suggestions or disagreements!

US iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App StoreMy 99. With that being said, below is our list of apps with commentary and our perspective about their usefulness for kids like Case, as well as ratings of 1 – 5 stars. You can (1) click on the name of the app for a link to the iTunes Preview, (2) choose to view the entire list of 99 apps, (3) sort the list by any heading description, (4) search the list, or (5) download the list.

NOTE: Case’s favorite apps are highlighted in red.

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