First let me tell you who is using these apps:
Angela is 14 and has Down syndrome. My focus for her right now is reading more sight words, handwriting, basic math functions and telling time on an analog clock.
Axel is 10 and also has Down syndrome. He is newly adopted from Eastern Europe and is just learning English. He also has a severe hearing loss. At 10 years old Axel has never attended school (kids with Down syndrome aren't allowed to in the country he was living in.) so he is just being exposed to some concepts for the very first time. Like counting, and colors. My focus for him right now is learning numbers 1-10, letters and letter sounds, and counting 1-10.
One thing I'm on the look out for is a GOOD quality app to teach handwriting, with the option to choose d'nealian vs. ZanerBloser letters. I have yet to find exactly what I'm looking for, although I think I found someone to design it!
I have NOT included any games or other "fun" apps in this review. This is limited to educational apps only. So here goes...
ABC Pocket Phonics: Letter sounds and writing, plus first words.... $1.99
This app teaches how to write the letters, the sounds they make, plus some of the first sight words. You can choose between D'Nealian or ZanerBloser style printing. The program guides the child through tracing the letter. (we use the stylus instead of a finger) If the child stops, the little dot stays where they need to start again. I think it was worth the $1.99. The only thing I don't like about the program is I wish it said the letter sounds slower.
First Words: Animals...$1.99
This is a great app for teaching letter names and matching letters. It also teaches animal names and sounds. There isn't really anything I don't like about this app! While it's worth the $1.99, buy the "First Words Deluxe" version below instead!
First Words: Deluxe...$4.99
Just like "First Words: Animals", this app teaches letter names and sounds, but there are five categories of words: vehicles, animals, at home, colors, and shapes. This is Axel's favorite app! Both my kids like playing with this app. They've used it enough that it was worth the $4.99.
I Hear Ewe: Animal Sounds for Toddlers...FREE
This app name is misleading, as it also includes vehicles. (an odd combo, animals and vehicles, huh?) This app might be fun for toddlers. It's too young for my kids, however, Axel may be more interested once he has hearing aids and is able to hear the sounds. This app would be good for learning animal sounds, I just wish it has actual pictures of the animals and not cartoon-like drawings. But the vehicles, although drawings, are realistic looking. But, the app is free so if you want to give it a try you won't be out any money.
Interactive Alphabet - ABC Flash Cards...$0.99
This is another good app for learning letter names and sounds. It's very simple, easy enough for a very young child to use. Axel likes this app quite a lot. Choose the letter you want to listen to, then there is a little interactive flash card that follows. This app won iPad Kid's app of the year from iLounge, if that means anything to you. (it doesn't to me! LOL)
Intro to Letters by Montessorium...$4.99
This is a Montessori based lesson in letter names and sounds. The child traces the letters, following the directions given by the little ball. The app won't respond if the child tries to trace the letter the wrong direction, but rewards them for going the right way. The app also asks the child to choose the correct letter to match a given sound. You can choose to have your child work on single letter sounds, phonograms, or both upper and lower case letters together. You can also record your own voice if you want the the sounds to have your specific dialect or accent. This app seemed to "blah" for my kids, but I guess that's just me because they both like it. Also, you cannot choose what style of letters you want (D'nealian vs DanerBloser, etc.) This was NOT worth the $4.99!!! I would pay a $1.99 for it though.
Intro to Math by Montessorium...$4.99
This app teaches math early concepts in a Montessori format. My kids have only played with the first two levels, but they really like it, and so do I. It's like of like using uni-fix cubes in the form of an iPad! I think this one was actually worth the $4.99 I paid for it.
iWrite words - Handwriting...$2.99
Ok, this app is designed for YOUNG kids, but starts off with written instructions, and each sequence in the app has another set of written instructions. Gee, that makes all kinds of sense. NOT! This app is a NO GO on our iPad! Don't waste your money!
This is a good app for kids over grade 2. Its kind of like doing those timed tests in school. Great for checking your kids on their math facts! When they're done they're rewarded with a quick little game. This app was worth the .99!
This is an app for really young kids, but Axel loves it. It's a great way to teach number sequencing, and they CAN'T make a mistake on it. They can also learn the names of shapes, animals, and a few other things as well. Although this is a VERY basic app, the pictures are great quality (HD) and Axel has enjoyed it enough that it was worth the $0.99. I think most VERY young kids would like it.
ABA Flash Cards: Actions...FREE
We have the entire series of ABA flash cards ( you can find them here at Kindergarten.com) And these are really great. I particularly love the receptive language learning flash cards, that ask questions such as, "Who do you see when you're sick?" and the child chooses between a doctor, letter carrier, or firefighter. These are great for Angela who has trouble with some receptive language, and who/what/why/where types of questions. Since these are FREE, you can't go wrong!
ABC Tracer: Alphabet flash card tracing phonics and drawing...$1.99
This is a favorite of both my kids, even though it's for very young kids. It teaches letter names, sounds, and also includes a freestyle drawing area. It makes a fun little noise as they're tracing the letters, and has an animal with it's sounds to go with each letter. I recently had some nieces and nephews playing with this app, and they messed with it for TWO HOURS! That alone was worth the $1.99 for peace and quite thanks to entertained kids. LOL
This is an AWESOME app for learning to tell time! Angela loves it. You can work in both analog or digital mode. (fun fact: an online friend recently discovered that none of her middle school aged, public school educated kids could tell time on an analog clock! Can YOURS???) If you're working in analog mode you can choose the clock face, weather or not it shows the all 60 minutes, 5 minutes, or just hash marks for the minutes. Test your middle schoolers who learned to tell time years ago! And HELLO! It's FREE!
LOVE this app! Teach your child to count by 1s, 2s, 3s...up to 8's! Do counting puzzles, and all kinds of things. This is a great app! Angela has been practicing her skip counting with this app, and Axel is learning to count by 1's. Well worth the $0.99!!!
KidCalc: Calculator for children...$0.99
This is just a calculator, with big chunky buttons and fun colors. If the child enters "3 + 3 =" the calculator will put up 3 objects, then another 3 objects, so you could have your child count then instead of hitting the = symbol. You can also change how to one of 7 different calculator backgrounds. I would not pay $0.99 for this again. It should be a free app.
Learn Sight Words...$0.99
This app teaches 300 of the most frequently used words in the English language. It will go through all the flash cards with the child, and the parent can flag words the child still needs to work on, the later have them work on just the flagged words. Angela likes this app. Worth the $0.99.
Math Smart: First Grade...$0.99
There are several different settings to choose from in this app, allowing parents a lot of control as to what the child is working on. However, I put it it on the easiest of all the settings, and it was still much too difficult for Angela. While it is a good app, it is beyond US 1st grade math. I don't think I would buy this app again for my kids, but you might like it for yours.
See Read Say...$1.99
This is a fun flash card type app teach words up through 3rd grade. Shake the pad to get a new word. It starts out with pre-primer words and goes all the way up to 3rd grade. Angela really likes this app. I would buy it again. (note this app has been updated and now has a new picture.)
Need I say more? Both my kids LOVE this app! There are short music videos from the show, along with a dictionary type format. Like the show, this app is designed for hearing children. I wish it was also made more usable for deaf or hard of hearing children who are learning sign for the first time. The only thing that would need to be added is to add a picture of each object that is being signed on the flash cards. This was an expensive app at $4.99, but the video quality is HD, and my kids have watched them sooo many times, I think it was worth it. There is also a free version, but it doesn't have even half the stuff the paid version has.
ABC's Letter Rip...$1.99
The theory of this app is good, but it was tough for me to use. Since it's designed for very young kids I think it's too complicated. Do not waste your money on this app!
iTouch iLearn Words for preschool kids...$0.99
Pretty much NOT impressed with this app at all! The animation in the short video clips was of very poor quality, the speech in the directions was choppy and had poor rhythm. This app gets a thumbs down for our iPad. I would not buy this app again.
Letters A to Z...$0.99
Another good basic letter names and sounds app designed for very young children. It's a good app, very easy to use. I would buy this app again for young kids.
This is my favorite spelling app for Angela! (though I cannot say it is HER favorite! LOL) I can enter in all her spelling words, then she has to write them (again, she uses a stylus) or she can type them. It's a great way for her to practice writing, something that is very difficult for her because of her strokes, and also practice spelling. It also keeps track of her progress and will re-test her on words she had difficulty with. This was an expensive app at $4.99, but it is 100% customizable. It was well worth the money.
A basic counting app for numbers up to 10. This is a great one for very young kids! Because Axel is just starting to understand the concept of counting, he's LOVING this app, so yes, I would buy it again!