As many of you, I have a lot of childhood memories that make me smile. Some of them exist in some form today, but very few are almost exactly like they were when we were growing up. One of my favorite things while growing up was sitting in a doctor's office and looking through the Highlights Magazine. It seemed to distract me from why I was in that doctor's office. One of my absolute favorite parts of the magazine was the Hidden Pictures page. I always felt like I had hit the jackpot when I got to look at it before someone else had circled all the hidden objects.
Fast forward a bunch of years and I am a grownup (for the most part) and I am asked by one of my goddaughters to support her magazine drive. The first thing I ordered was the Highlights Magazine and have been getting it ever since for my daughter. Quinn, who just turned 6, loves it and especially loves the Hidden Pictures page. So a few weeks ago, when someone reached out to me and asked me to take a look at the new Hidden Pictures app, I jumped on it. I am always looking for new apps, especially ones that are more appropriate for the older kids and this app definitely fits that description. While they say that it's ideal for children ages 6-8, I think that it can be used with younger children who have strong visual skills, especially if an adult is playing it with them.
So far, I am a big fan of the Hidden Pictures app. More importantly, the kids are really enjoying it. The pictures are colorful, bold and and great at encouraging conversation (for my speech therapy friends). It's a great app to work on a variety of occupational therapy skills without the kids feeling like they are "working". It's more of a game to find all the different objects hidden throughout the pictures and at the same time, the kids are working on improving visual skills (visual motor, visual perceptual and visual tracking). If you want to try and work on graphomotor skills, you can have the kids use a stylus (I've been using the Cosmonaut lately and love it) when using the app. You can also have the kids write out the objects on a piece of paper as they find them to work on improving their handwriting skills. One more thing I like to do is after the kids complete a puzzle on the iPad, I have them do another one in this great Hidden Pictures puzzle book that I have. There are a bunch of these workbooks out there but I like this one because they have a bunch of black and white pictures that you have to take a handful of stickers and put them on top of the object when they find them. This adds a greater challenge for those kids who are doing really well with the app.
Unlike the older version of the app, the updated one acts more like a subscription plan. You sign up and each month a new set of puzzle packs are available. When you first download the app, there are already 60+ puzzles! You unlock puzzles as you complete others and there are even special items in the puzzles that need to be collected. One of the things I like is how there are different modes to choose from so you increase or decrease the level of difficulty/challenge for each kid you work with. The three modes of play to choose from are:
Free Play-find the hidden objects in whichever order and in however long it takes you
Timed-find all the hidden objects before the timer runs out
Directed-you find the hidden objects in a the order in which they are listed
Oftentimes, parents ask me for app recommendations that would be good for the whole family. If you are looking for an app that would be good to facilitate social skills and collaboration with a sibling or a friend, this is a great one. While it can be played individually, it's also perfect for working as a team to find all the hidden objects. The kids can take turns finding something or you can have them find one and then they have to give a hint to their friend in order to find the object that they found. This is great for working on improving language and organizational skills for those kids you know who struggle with these things.
As I have been getting to know the app, I have to admit that I have been sucked into playing it all by myself for long periods of time. It brings me back to my childhood in the best possible way. It's been fun to play this at work and at home and makes me happy that something this simple still brings hours of entertainment to kids today. If you are on the lookout for a new app for your little ones, I highly recommend Hidden Pictures. It's not only something that will help strengthen your child's visual skills, it's an app that you won't mind playing with your children. If you have any questions or want to know more about the Hidden Pictures app, I am always a click away and love hearing from you all!