Friday, March 15, 2013

One Potato Head, Two Potato Heads, Three Potato Heads More!

I was all set to write about another of our favorite iPad apps this morning when Quinn and I discovered a new one from the creators of Endless Alphabet, which I wrote about two weeks ago.  Callaway Digital Arts has done it again with their Mr. Potato Create & Play iPad app.  Even though we have just downloaded it, we have already played with it a ton.

Who doesn't love Mr. Potato Head?  I think we can all say that we have spent hours playing with one, either as children, with our children or with the children we work with.  This classic toy is always a part of my therapy supplies at my gym and can work on so many skills.  The toy version of Mr. Potato Head is great for working on bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, sequencing and a bunch of other things.  It's great for learning body parts and body awareness.  Plus, the kids love it.

Mr. Potato Head Create & Play app definitely doesn't take the place of the actual toy but for kids who need some motivation to work on some of the more challenging skills mentioned above, this is a great place to start.  There are a lot of things to love about this app.  First of all, it is free.  TOTALLY FREE!  When that happens, I am used to a lame app that you can play with for a little while before feeling like you have to purchase all the costly in-app purchases.  Not this one.  When you download the app, there are only a couple of options that resemble the original Mr. Potato Head but there are dozens of other Mr/Mrs. Potato Heads to download immediately.  Some of the free downloadable options are an alien, ballerina, pirate and cowboy.  Not only that, there are a variety of different scenes that you can choose from to place your completed Mr. Potato Head in.  In those scenes, Mr. Potato Head will do a bunch of different things.  For example, the space alien will fly in the air and lose all of his body parts before landing back on the moon and having them fall right back into place.  There are so many opportunities to interact with the game and work on speech and language skills at the same time.  I have a feeling that my speech and language and special education friends will love this app as much as I do.  

Here are a some more specific occupational therapy goals that can be worked on with Mr. Potato Head Play & Create:

Body Awareness-putting the body parts onto Mr/Mrs. Potato Head will help a child become more familiar with their own bodies.  I will most likely use the iPad app along with a real Mr. Potato Head to add a multi-sensory approach.

Graphomotor Skills-in conjunction with the iPad app and the regular Mr. Potato Head, you can have your child work on drawing the face and body parts onto a blank Mr. Potato Head picture.  This way you can work on handwriting and drawing skills at the same time.

Visual Motor/Visual Tracking-you have to look around the whole screen and find the different body parts and visually track in order to get them into the correct spot on the body.

Number Recognition/Identification-there are a bunch of different scenes you can download for your completed Mr/Mrs. Potato Head to interact with.  On the bottom of that screen, there are 5 choices so you can work on number identification and recognition by asking them to touch a certain number or tell you the number they are going to touch before they do it.

Language Skills/Sequencing-this app is great to use to work on building a child's language skills.  The object of the game/app is simple enough that you can add more expectations by encouraging your child to use their words to tell you what they are doing.  An even bigger challenge, have your child place the pieces in in a certain order.  For example, tell them to start with the top of the head and move down to the feet to work on sequencing.

Social Skills-this app is great for working on encouraging appropriate social skills.  If used in more of a group like setting, you can work on taking turns, asking a friend for help, working together to choose the Potato Head you want to put together, etc..

Updates/Additions-one of the great things I noticed about the app is that you can already tell that there will be updates and additions to the app.  Looks like there will be new characters and scenes to download in the near future.  It will be quite difficult for your child to get bored by this game if they continue to update it.

I already know that this app will end up becoming part of my daily play routine with Quinn and look forward to trying it out at the gym with the kids I work with.  I can already see them lying on their bellies while on the net swing playing this game.  We get to work on building upper extremity strength and head and neck control while they are having fun so it won't seem like so much work!  I love when I can sneak the hard work in without them even realizing it!

I hope that you all enjoy this app and would love to hear your thoughts about it.  I can't say enough about how great the apps are by Callaway Digital Arts and can't wait to see what their next awesome app will be.  As always, I am just a click away if you want to email with any questions or comments.   Have a great weekend!

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