Summer 2014 Meeting Recap

The Deerfield Public Library hosted the August SNAILS meeting at their redesigned library. Tamara Kaldor from Chicago Play Pro was the featured guest speaker who shared information about using apps with children with disabilities. We also welcomed Paula Shapiro, Youth Services Librarian at the Deerfield Public Library, who shared what her library has done to serve children and tweens with special needs. Below is a recap of the meeting, but be sure to stay tuned for a forthcoming blog post highlighting in more detail Paula's innovative buddy program for tweens of all abilities.

Using Apps with Children with Special Needs
Tamara is a developmental therapist and advocate for people with disabilities at Chicago Play Pro. Her primary focus is working with children with special needs, but for the last several years, she has worked with librarians to help train and promote accessibility and inclusion in public libraries. As she explained during her presentation, "When I think about technology and kids, in the world of special needs and learning disabilities, the iPad is a game changer. It's a new pen, a new notebook. It breaks barriers. It gives a voice to children that had done. While technology can be given the stigma of being the big divider, for people with disabilities, the iPad is the great connector." Her presentation included an overview of apps to use with children with special needs that promote and support life skills, communication skills, play, and a love of learning and reading. She also shared ideas about how to use apps in existing library programs and services.

Here is a list of the various apps that were covered in Tamara's presentation:

Visual schedules

Choiceworks creates customizable, shareable, and printable visual schedules, preloaded with already created stories about feelings and emotions
Choiceworks Calendar creates personalized calendar with visual supports, features settings to create a countdown to what's coming next to alleviate anxiety, ability to import photos into event calendar with alarms
First Then offers simple choice boards for simple choice making

Book Making
Book Creator: standard in special education classrooms, can be preloaded with sounds, videos and pictures, option to record voice and import that into the book; not always compatible to send via email
Keynote: the Apple version of PowerPoint to create customizable books
Super Hero Comic Book Maker: elementary school aged app for kids to create their own stories
Comic Life: used in schools, elementary and middle school aged app, great for visual learners

Tico Timer: timer and music is customizable, includes relaxing visuals, great for young and older children
Stop and Go: basic timer with red, yellow and green flashlight image
Smore: website for creating interactive flyers and newsletters with printable, quality templates

Open Play
Toca Tea Party: open play app for practicing and encouraging imagination and pretend play
My Play Home: examples of real learning end experiences, diverse representation of family members

Other Online Resources
  • edshelf: resource to create customizable handouts of apps in easy to use format, great idea for parent handout resources
  • free resource designed for teachers to give students movement breaks, easy to use videos to implement in storytimes for kids that would benefit from tech sensory breaks
  • GoAnimate: website where you can type in words and choose voices for animated creatures
  • ThingLink: online hotspots that link to videos, photos, or content published online (website and app)
  • Toca Boca  and Duck Duck Moose: great quality apps that are fun and easy for children to use
  • TEC Center at Ericson Institute: includes a list of educator resources for librarians about technology and early childhood education
Ideas for Implementation at Your Library
  • Create a social story for kids about the library to prepare them for a visit to the library
  • Send a visual schedule to parents via email before a program to prepare their child for a particular library program
  • Print and laminate a visual schedule for kids that corresponds with the activities in the program; use a dry erase marker to check off the activities as they are completed
  • Print out a "When I get angry" book; have it displayed in the youth department for families to use and read while they are at the library
  • Use a projector to display a visual timer or a board
  • Have a sensory break space in the library to help kids practice being more calm
  • Create a monthly calendar with images and importable photos to promote upcoming pictures, post a screenshot of the calendar
  • Use a book creating app to encourage children to make their own stories about life experiences, this is especially useful for children with visual impairments because you could enlarge text and pictures
  • Host a volunteer project program at your library, have teens and adults help to create adapted books for kids with special needs
  • Take pictures of kids during program and send kids photos about what happened during the program, assists with sequencing and helps kids enjoy what happened during program at home
  • If you don't have any digital versions of flannel board pieces or storyboards to send via email, take pictures of them and sent them out to families in advance so that the children can anticipate what rhymes or stories are coming up
  • Share apps at youth department meeting so that everyone is familiar with apps, this is particularly useful to keep up with technology's constant updates and allow staff to focus on exploring on their own
  • Genius Kid Hour program idea: kids showcasing apps and teaching others how to play and learn, allows kids to have leadership capabilities