Using interactive iPad apps for early language assessment

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I’m a big fan of interactive apps (and indeed books or games) that encourage children to comment spontaneously on what is happening. The Wonderkind zooToddler’s Seek and Find apps were a recent discovery on the iPad of a friend’s toddler. The free ones (Animal Circus, My Zoo Animals, My Little Town) are all pretty good and give you plenty to work with even though not all of the scenes are available unless you pay a bit more. A bit like My PlayHome, they are all interactive scenes. You can’t move the characters around but when you touch them, something happens e.g. the camel spits at the man, the woman flips a pancake etc.

I particularly like the range of activities that happen as even a child with only a few basic words will be able to say something about it.

I regularly use this kind of app in informal assessments with preschool children, especially when formal assessments are not appropriate because of attention span or level. They could also work well for the younger primary ages. I keep the apps in the same folder on the iPad and asmorning townk the child to choose one. I then demonstrate a few of the the activities and talk about them simply – usually the child follows my lead and starts doing the same. Be warned – you can’t usually move on to another activity until they have had a chance to activate every single element of each scene.

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