Smart Uses of Technology: Recommendations for Free Apps

Many of the kids I see are very interested in technology. Some of them even know how to use a cell phone better than I do! Here is a review of some of the best free apps I’ve found to improve emerging fine motor and visual motor skills. These apps are all for an iPhone or an Apple platform, but you can find similar apps for Android and other platforms as well. The apps are listed in a developmental progression, from easiest to most difficult skills.

  1. Baby Bubbles: This is one of my all time favorite apps for kids! In this app bubbles flow across the screen to a soothing lullaby and a baby laughs every time a bubble is popped. This app is great for helping infants and toddlers develop visual tracking skills (watching the bubbles move from one side of the screen to the other). Infants and toddlers can develop the emerging skill of index finger isolation by popping the bubbles. The music is also very soothing and can aide in sensory regulation.

  1. Smart Shapes: This is a great puzzle like game to start kids on. In this game there is shape, color, and size matching. The easiest ones involve one circle floating across the screen and one hole. There hardest ones involve multiple shapes of varying colors and multiple holes to place them into. This is a good beginner visual motor app due to the varying difficulties and comparably large pieces.

  1. Drawing Desk and KidsDoodle: Drawing desk (in app choose “kids desk”) provides a blank screen that makes noise when you draw on it. KidsDoodle provides a blank screen that you can draw on in neon colors. These apps are great for kids who are first learning to draw and imitate vertical and horizontal lines as well as circular strokes and circles.

  1. Animal Puzzle: This app is a good next step up from Smart Shapes for simple puzzles. This app has one 4-piece picture matching inset puzzle, one 5-piece picture matching inset puzzle, one 4-piece simple jigsaw puzzle, and two 5-piece full board jigsaw puzzles.

  1. Kids Puzzles: Once your child is working on slightly more advanced visual motor skills, they are ready for this app. Click on the first category, “Animals” and slide to an array of free puzzles. What’s nice about his app is that you can choose to complete any puzzle as a 3×3, 4×4, 5×5, 6×6 or 7×7 piece puzzle, making it an app that preschool aged children through elementary school aged children are likely to be challenged just enough by.

  1. Tracing Letters: This app allows you to trace all uppercase and lowercase letters for free! Other letter tracing apps only allow you to trace a few letters for free, and if you want to trace every letter you have to purchase the app. My only complaint is that this app doesn’t make any noise, and sometimes a noise after a line is drawn can be motivating.

Check out even more apps on this website!