Technology is here to stay, people. While it’s important to maintain some boundaries with technology (see American Academy of Pediatrics technology guidelines for young children and school-aged kids and adolescents), I’d wager that it’s next to impossible to avoid it completely. So, today, let’s lean into it.
There are a handful of apps that I use regularly in therapy, and ones that I frequently recommend to families for school-aged children. I have a different set that I use for younger kids, to be discussed on a different day. Today, I thought I’d share some of them with all of you. Just to be clear – there is NO APP ON THIS PLANET THAT WILL PROMOTE LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT BY ITSELF. Just like with toys, the learning comes from the interaction with language models (AKA adults). Also, some apps are better than others. Good apps include ones that are age-appropriate, foster some sort of learning, and can include multiple people in the use of the app (no solitary play).
These five apps pass the test (at least in my opinion)!
The library apps – Hoopla, RBDigital, OverDrive, and cloudLibrary (FREE, see below for availability)
I have lived in three states and all of these , in some combination, have been available to me in every library system in which I have had a membership. This includes when I lived in California and was a member of about 4 different library systems. These apps provide access to e-books and e-audiobooks (and sometimes e-magazines and videos) FOR FREE through your public library. All you need is a library card. I quite literally use these apps on a daily basis. In fact, I’m listening to Little Women on rbDigital right now to prepare for seeing the new movie version!
We know that literacy and language development go hand-in-hand, so increasing a child’s access to literature would help to build their language. Take advantage of these awesome apps! Read along side of your child or enjoy an audiobook together in the car!
Hoopla: App Store, Google Play, Amazon for Android, Chromecast, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Roku
RBDigital: App Store, Google Play, Amazon for Android
OverDrive: App Store, Google Play, Amazon for Android, Chrome Web Store
cloudLibrary: App Store, Google Play
My PlayHome ($3.99, free lite version option. Available on App Store, Google Play, Microsoft Store, and Amazon for Android) This is not a “language” app, but wow does it provide a lot of opportunities for language building and discussion. My PlayHome is a virtual doll house that is much like a young child version of the Sims (does that still exist?). The amount of relevant vocabulary building that can happen while playing is limitless. Plus, kids really like it. Play along side to boost conversation, logical thinking, and problem solving skills as well as vocabulary knowledge.
Mad Libs (FREE. Available on App Store and Google Play) Yes, the Mad Libs of our youth is alive and well in the app universe! This is a wonderful way to incorporate learning of parts of speech into an extremely engaging activity. Get ready for some wild stories! Play along side of your kiddo and throw a few erroneous answers at them to get them thinking (i.e. give a noun for a verb). See if they correct you, and if they don’t, help them figure it out.
Cookie Doodle ($0.99. Available on App Store and Windows Store) I’m biased about this app because I love baking. I also love language. The two come together in this app in that it provides lots of opportunities to practice following directions and sequencing. It’s virtual baking – follow the recipe, add ingredients to the bowl, etc. etc. – so that you don’t have to destroy your kitchen if you aren’t in the mood that day. Play along side of your kiddo to help them problem solve and to talk about sequencing!
StoryBuilder ($7.99. Available on the App Store) I think one of the trickiest language skills is narrative building and storytelling. It’s often very difficult for grown adults to come up with clear narratives with a straight-forward storyline. We all know what I’m talking about, right? This is a kid-friendly story building app that allows kiddos to create stories based on prompts and pictures. You can edit the settings based on your child’s ability and age level as well. Play along side to discuss logical story lines or to get a bit silly with them if you so desire. 🙂
I’d love to hear from you – what apps do you use with your school-aged children?