It’s Halloween, and that means time for fun and a few playful pranks placed into our daily routines. Many Ed apps have updates that include holiday play, so you may want to take a peek in the update section on your devices. By seasonally updating their apps, developers provide something new and help to generalize skills. So go ahead, try on new identities and keep the exploration and discovery at its peak with these Spooktacular apps. Sago Mini Monsters by Sago Mini never disappoints, and even the youngest of kids quickly learn how to play independently. Rescue a mini monster out of the green slime, design your monster, then feed it with yummy tasty treats like candy and old boots. But watch the toll it takes on your teeth as after eating, even monsters brush their teeth! Toca Boo by Toca Boca is a gas! Hide out and wait to scare unsuspecting family as they wander by the hiding spot. There are 6 rooms to explore and objects to interact with to throw your family off finding you first. The kids that I played with had as much fun exploring the objects in a room as they did scare people. I played this with kids as young as two. Of course, they needed more support, but half the fun is playing with kids and making the holiday special. Watch out for the peppers in the kitchen…they’re HOT! StoryToys Entertainment Limited has really embraced Halloween with their all-inclusive activity app Haunted House~3D Pop Up Activity Book. There are a wide variety of challenges, and kids cannot get enough play with this app. It opens as a book, and kids can it can be rotated for a view from a different perspective. Get loads of practice with motor planning by avoiding getting caught by goblins, visually scanning for pumpkins, and following the witch’s directives to name a few of the 11 different activities. The IAPs for packs of puzzles and stickers is well worth the asking price. (StoryToys has also updated My Very Hungry Caterpillar with fall pumpkins and is worth checking out too). Star Gurus by Colto is a dot-to-dot counting game that has added play screens for Halloween. Using dot-to-dots not only provides a one to one correspondence when learning to count, but also brings the motor system on board to help with retention. In Star Gurus you are mapping out constellations, and a scary thing or two up in the sky. It has a calm but playful vibe to it that is really appreciated for sensory sensitive kids. Catch the Wally – Hide and Seek Game for Curious Kids by Funny Yummy Studio UG was reviewed by TWA here. Gameplay consists of finding Wally, the purple spider. Great graphics and atmospheric music add to the fun. Use of the app is great for visual scanning, building attention to detail, and persistence. The game is short in duration, and this can help begin to build focus and task completion. And for some kids, this would serve as a great motivator or reward for work well done. Addendum, 10/21/2015...Catch the Wally has a Halloween edition of their app. It adds spooky Halloween features and animations with the same great gameplay. I have to say it was hard to put down. I did discover a tip. but am not sure if it is predictable. When watching the eyes after the lights go out, helped me to find Wally a little easier. Also look at everything in an animation. He may be hiding in a pot! Are these good observations? or just a case of guessing? Feel free to weigh in your tips! For older kids, Haunt the House: Terrortown by SFB Games provides goal directed play. The gameplay centers on haunting your way through town and reclaiming what has been lost to the little ghost by people inhabiting different spaces and places. The game has an old timey feel and is quite challenging. There are many points of interest to keep track of, and that directly translates to improving working memory and other executive functioning skills. Artgig, never disappoints, and creeping your way through Mystery Math Museum is a great place to spend some holiday fun. Touring these sometimes-spooky museums helps to hone your skills and recall, and the illustrations are first rate. Gameplay revolves around saving the dragonflies from different museums in town, and then watch as the cast of new characters on your portrait wall accumulates. Kids actually have to build equations, sometimes using a different operation than expected to achieve the right answer. The customization features really rock, and parents and teacher’s can select the focus for practice. Two of my favorite storytellers, The Happy Dandelion team of Joshua and Donna Wilson have created one great interactive book, Who is the Ugliest of All? It is the story of a girl, who has a difficulty accepting, who she is and is overly concerned about what others may think. This ground breaking the social story with its unique storyline and beautifully executed illustrations is a must have book for kids. It is a nice launching pad to set the seeds or discuss issues on self-esteem and diversity. My Naughty Shadow by GOOD KNIGHT STUDIOS PTY LTD, although not specifically made for Halloween, is a wonderful surprise. Thanks to the iMums for showcasing this, read their review here. It’s complete with spooky atmospheric music, storyline, and illustrations. It’s about a girl, whose shadow is full of mischief, and interactive opportunities. It also lends itself to tons of off-screen play activities and experiments. I love the use of flashlights in treatment and teaching. They not only help improve visual focus, tracking and attention; but also are a lot of fun to explore in a darkened room. It’s not Halloween with out The Great Pumpkin. Loud Crow Interactive Inc.’s version is true to the special that we’ve been watching for at least a generation. The wait for the Great Pumpkin and all the Peanuts gang’s antics are brought to life with great interactive features that pull you into this classic. All voices, dialogs, and music are from the 1966 TV special. There are opportunities to go trick or treating with the gang, carve pumpkins, and play with tilting the iPad to watch what happens with characters. The app is not only nostalgic but brings Charles Shulz’s vision to life! Labo Halloween Car – Design & Race Your Own Halloween Car by Labo Lado Inc. is just simply a joy. Based on their original Car Designer, which led the pack for an app that covered many learning domains in one package; use it as an exercise in problem-solving, a prewriting tool, or as a reward. Labo Lado Inc. really cares about developing creativity in children and makes some of the most innovating and motivating apps. In this app, after designing a car, kids take it for a spin. On the road, they have many obstacles to overcome to get to the finish line, and helps work out thinking and doing outside the box. See our recent reviews of Labo Lado Inc. here. Jump App, always a favorite, gives kids a creative outlet with drawing with tools found in Nature Workshop. Fall is such a ripe time to use found objects on nature hikes to create all sorts of wondrous stories from pieces of art. Controls are intuitive and kids readily grasp the concept in a snap. The ability to transfer skills to off screen play is what makes it a winner, and that is especially helpful for special needs kids who have difficulty processing, sequencing, or motor planning. Spooky Letters by madebyeducators brings a haunting and spooky take on handwriting. They have recently updated their settings for cursive style in settings. The thing that makes this app rock is the focus on joining letters. By joining letters it facilitates the flow of thought and that builds retention and the ability to sequence ideas. Cursive handwriting is one of the most important tools to teach a child developmentally and especially for kids with special needs. It is based on the book by Samuel Blumenfield about teaching cursive first. Check out their website, madebyeducators.com. They have made many apps for seasons or preferences which help keep the practice of subjects fresh and challenging. This list is by no means all-inclusive, so explore the app store, google play, and Amazon for apps for some holiday hijinks. Most of all enjoy the time you spend and play with your kids. Happy Halloween! 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 on 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 have been a tremendous opportunity and experience to share and learn with others.
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.