I hope you enjoyed my sister-in-law Leslie Schulte's post earlier this week on 5 Great Apps for Kids 5 & Under. Thanks again, Leslie, for sharing your research and due diligence with us!
When seeking out what apps will work best for Elsa, my 5-year-old daughter with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, over the years her therapy team has guided us toward some excellent "touch trainers."
What is a "touch trainer"? Well, it's pretty much exactly what you'd guess! These are applications designed to TRAIN kids where to TOUCH a screen.
Touch training is important for Elsa because she is primarily non-verbal. Developing and mastering screen selection will ultimately help her succeed with a tablet-style communication device.
If you are looking to help your child, or a child in your life, advance in touch training, here are 5 apps that I recommend giving a try!
5 Excellent Touch Training Apps
1. Peekaboo Barn (Night & Day Studios)
This is a super popular app, so it's likely you've heard of it (or have it!). Peekaboo Barn invites kids to open barn doors to reveal what animal is making all the noise. We have been playing this one for years! It's a great beginning touch trainer because your accuracy doesn't have to be razor sharp. If you touch the barn, you get the reward. It's a classic. (Peekaboo Presents and Peekaboo Sesame Street are other faves by this same app maker.)
2. Farm Academy (Virtual Speech Center Inc.)
Elsa can be very independent with Peekaboo Barn. That is not the case with Farm Academy. But I still really like this app because it challenges Elsa to make selections in a field of three. One game challenges her to "Find Animals." The three animals presented are spaced out enough for her to take them all in visually, but not too big to reward broad swipes of the hand. Meaning: The game requires her to be intentional and accurate. It's a good step up from Peekaboo Barn, but I definitely need to be sitting next to her to advance the screen.
3. Tap-N-See Now (Little Bear Sees)
Remember screen savers from the early 2000s, which sent objects bouncing across black until you "woke your screen up"? In this app, it's a bear that goes bouncing. I like it for several reasons: 1) The stark black background helps Elsa track the bear, 2) The bear is constantly moving, requiring Elsa to anticipate and react, and 3) A short song loudly plays when you touch the bear, then the bear takes off again, enticing Elsa to keep at it.
Here's a video of her playing this one. Warning: A loud whistle sounds when she get's it right.
4. Video Touch - Animals (SoundTouch)
The home screen of this app presents 12 animals to choose from - TWELVE! A big step up from three in Farm Academy. When you touch an animal, you are rewarded with real-life footage of the animal: Pigs in the mud, cats playing with toilet paper, frogs on a log, etc. This is the current fave at our house. In fact, I can't seem to keep Elsa's sisters away, when she starts to play it. (Miss L is becoming an amateur occupational therapist, assisting Elsa with hand-over-hand, completely of her own volition.)
5. Knock Knock Family (Curio Makers LLC)
This one is very new to us, but I can tell it's gonna be a hit. You personalize it by uploading photos of family members and friends. To reveal who is behind the door, the child has to touch the doorknob. (Sneak peaks of the family members are seen through cut-outs in the door.) There are two things that are very motivating to Elsa: music and family members. So this plays to her emotions, in a positive way, and serves as a great motivator! Knock Knock Family is a bit tough to navigate solo, though, so this one requires one-on-one help.
Hope you found this roundup helpful! If there are other touch training apps that you know and love, please share in the comments below!