Technology has the power to unlock learning for kids at all ages and stages. And sometimes exploring and learning on a device first is less intimidating than trying out new skills with real people. Check out these apps that help kids with communication, organization and even social awareness skills.
1. Calm Counter — Social Story and Anger Management Tool
This ingenious app helps kids with special needs, social challenges, anxiety or anger issues learn self-awareness as they begin to identify when they "need a break" and practice calming down.
For kids who like a little humor, this series of videos and questions offers a unique approach to learning about social skills. When used with an adult or with a group of kids who can interact around the content, the learning potential will expand and have even more impact.
3. FTVS HD — First Then Visual Schedule HD
With its simple, multi-sensory interface, this app has great potential for use with kids with developmental or learning disabilities, anxiety or attention issues, and language, hearing or processing difficulties.
4. Kid in Story Book Maker
By creating social stories, kids can work with expectations and practice before events actually happen. The special features are particularly helpful for kids who may need to see themselves encountering situations, such as a visit to the dentist, in storybook form before encountering them in real life.
5. Peppy Pals Sammy Helps Out
Though this social-emotional skill builder is designed for young kids, older kids who struggle with social situations and empathy also might find it helpful. Best used with a parent or teacher, this app provides built-in discussion questions to help guide kids so that they can take their learning off-screen.
This mind-mapping tool is especially helpful for kids who have problems with organization and visual memory. Kids can insert words, images and their own drawings and then connect to other related Popplets to create an interactive outline of related ideas.
This extraordinary communication aid is great for kids who have basic to severe speech challenges. Kids can learn how to effectively convey wants, needs, feelings, opinions, social manners and more.
8. Social Detective
Through video and a comprehensive, step-by-step process, kids can learn about expected versus unexpected behaviors in a variety of everyday situations. Because the videos include real kids and the app offers practical tips, users will be able to identify with and apply what they learn.
9. The Social Express II
This excellent animated app boosts kids' social awareness skills. Kids can learn to identify how their peers are feeling, develop coping strategies, recognize the importance of eye contact and learn a host of core social skills needed to function in daily life.
For more great learning tools for kids with special needs and learning differences, check out our Learning Difficulties and Special Needs guide.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Common Sense Media in April 2019, and updated in May 2020.