The iphone has revolutionised the way we interact with people, the way we communicate and even how we can learn. It has utilised and made everyday use of a technology that was only featured in science fiction films such as star trek – touch screen technology. I admit I was in awe of this when I first got my iphone and still think it’s like something out of the matrix!
This piece of technology combined with the accelerometer (the cool piece of technology that senses movement) have spawned a plethora of applications that appeal to young and old alike but for now I just want to focus on the young ,the really young, our toddlers.
Today’s toddlers are already technology savvy. Turning on the TV is literally ‘child’s play’ compared to what these techno tots are capable of doing with an iphone.
From drawing to playing instruments, from flying planes to watching movies, all this is accessible on the iphone. Of course if you have an iphone and you have a toddler you already know this and in fact the phrase ‘Daddy can we use your phone please?’ is a common call in our household. Parents should not be scared of this technology and neither should it be used as a ‘virtual baby sitter’ or occupier of their time, it should and can be used as a tool and resource to help develop and explore their creativity, problem solving skills and general learning and if utilised correctly can be an enjoyable activity for both parent and child.
Educational apps used to be few and far between but there are now some excellent apps that can enhance your child’s learning experience.
Photo Touch Concepts from GrassHopper apps is a superb application that is very user friendly and very easy to follow. The voice gives the directions and the child has to pick out a specific item that is chosen by the voice. The categories can be changed in the setting dependant on the age and ability of your child, ranging from ‘Which one is different?’ to ‘Left, Middle and Right’. This application has excellent longevity but make sure you keep your sessions short and this will be one that you and your child will keep coming back to.
Following on from Photo Touch Concepts is Photo touch Opposites. This app is simple, presenting the user with two options whilst stating which one is to be ‘found’. For example a picture of a cow and a picture of a horse, the voice states ‘ Fast Horse’, the user is then obliged to find the correct picture and is reward with a ‘You did it!!!”, ‘Sweet!’ or ‘Perfect’. This can be expanded or used as a discussion point if the child is unsure of what a particular word means. When presented with the task of finding the ‘Young people’, it led to a conversation between my son and I on who in our family is old (Be careful!!) and who is young.
At the age of four, toddlers develop a great interest in the world around them and this includes word and letters so ‘Learn your ABCs’ from Blue Bay Mob (Free Lite version available or $0.99 for the full.)is a fantastic resource to engage this interest. It includes flashcards, sounds, writing practice and even the ability to record your own or your toddler’s voice into the application.
For the younger end of the toddler spectrum ‘Kneebouncers Volume 1’ is a fun and interactive application that features 5 games from the highly successful ‘Kneebouncers’ website (Well worth a look!) The whole look and feel of knee bouncer applications is fun and ‘chunky’. The visuals are simple but every action is rewarded with something happening on the screen, plus there are no adverts or buttons which little fingers can accidentally press to take them out of the application and onto a third party website, a devastatingly frustrating experience for the youngster concerned!!
These are just a handful of applications that I have found extremely useful in developing my children’s interest and learning but can also be utilised in those unplanned and unstructured moments such as waiting in doctors surgeries, banks or whilst mummy tries on that new dress!! Use these times as an opportunity to extend their learning and engage their interest. The iphone has given us the power to do that in the palm of our hands, now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go play Angry Birds….
Darren Jones Cert GSMD BA(Hons) PGCE .
Darren is the facilitator and director of Wiggle And Giggle Music, he is music co-oridnator at ASPECT school for Autisitic children, Musical director of Gosford Selective High and Killara High School’s concert bands and a professional trumpet player with the University of New South Wales Regiment band. Phone 4353 4115 if you would like to contact Darren