Game Day! Today, the iPad offers many opportunities for social interactive play. By initially playing on the iPad, it helps kids with poor motor skills learn the sequence and know what to expect so that they don’t have the added stress of managing pieces or maintaining posture. Other benefits include learning to be a gracious winner and accept defeat, as well as how to interact in a fun playful way. Here are a few of our favorite games for kids to have the needed social skills and cooperative play in place before they enter Kindergarten.
Duckie Deck’s Card Wars app (ages 3 to infinity) is a true hero in the clinic. Kids love this battle game of cards, and it is one of the most frequently requested rewards when it’s their choice. The graphics are bright and cheerful, and the intensity of the soundtrack can help kids lead the battle. Like the classic game of War, kids each play from their own decks and pull a card to see its value. Top number wins! Not only do kids learn about the comparative value of numbers, but they also learn about the structure and rules to a simple card game, which they can then generalize to other games as they are age. Things really get heated up when you have a string of matching cards setting off multiple “wars”. Initially playing on the iPad then transferring these skills with a real deck of cards ups the ante of sophistication and also enhances fine motor skills.
OLO by Sennep is a game to practice isolating the index finger and to learn to grade visual motor control (recommended for kids 9-11, but can be played with 5-6-year-olds with support and structure). These are essential skills for writing and will help strengthen the hands overall. The object of the game is much like air hockey in that you flick your puck or dot into a target zone. Overshooting causes your opponent to steal your dot. Undershooting makes your dot vulnerable. There are so many strategies to discover while playing. Different play board themes up the fun factor and give kids the opportunity to make choices. Themes with animated “flicking fingers” from jungle animals, robots, and more await your selection. Graphics are simple and uncluttered, giving kids time to process and plan. OLO is an Apple Store Essential game, and one sure to please any therapy clinic or teacher’s tablet.
FingerPaint Duel EDU by Cribster’s Fold Apps is loads of fun (ages 6-8, but I have played this with kids as young as 3). Not only does it give kids prompts to help alert them and build attention, it also is a game of refining control when using their hands or a stylus to draw. One of the nicest features of this app is that the app automatically adjusts the difficulty level based on the players performances, so it levels the playing field for all. Read TWA’s full review Here.
Marco Polo’s Recall (ages 2 to infinity) is a modernized version of Simon, the auditory memory game. It’s a blast to see how many sounds you can retain. The nice thing about Recall is that each subsequent segment is layered and it builds on the previous rounds. This sets kids up for success by reinforcing what they have done when adding something new and helps coordinate their visual and auditory systems to work in synch. And that is what makes a ready learner, one that can tune in and remember the content! There are 4 different variations with an IAP, and it is well worth it. The animations and reinforcers are awesome.
Pizza Obsessed by Secret Fun Sauce LLC is a party game for pizza days (Ages 4 and up). A total of 2-8 children can play and the focus is on creativity, silliness, and bonding. Kids answer questions, act out scenes using props, or create pieces of art around a “Pizza” theme. Earn points by having others’ evaluating your actions. This helps facilitate not only creativity but also provides feedback to help modify social interactions. Beware, however, of finding the anchovies on a slice – PU! (that’ll lose you a point). This is such a great game for teaching social skills and how to interact in a safe fun way.
Kids benefit from playing games by watching adults and peers react to gameplay and manners of etiquette when interacting with others. They can serve as a warm-up, or as the main theme for intervention. Check out these recommended apps today, and get your game on!
Jo Booth OTR/L has been an Occupational Therapist for over 35 years, and currently practices at EasterSeals of SEPA, Montgomery County Division mainly focusing in Early Intervention. It is an APS (Approved Private School) and home outreach based setting. She has also worked in Adolescent and Adult Rehabilitation. Writing reviews for Teachers With Apps has been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.