10 Spooktacular Apps for Halloween 2017!

This blog was originally published on the website Playful-living.com

by Jo Booth

Halloween is just plain fun for kids of all ages. Dressing up and trying out new roles and rules for pretend play gives kids a chance to take on another’s perspective. Young children often have a blurred line between reality and make-believe, so putting on that princess’ dress is the way to being royal – at least for a while. In addition, scary stories, movies, and playthings help us practice self-regulation by challenging our comfort zones and exploring the unknown. If you look up Halloween apps for kids, there are a plethora of apps, most are silly and ridden with inappropriate content, IAPs (In-App Purchases), and ads. Here is a list of our must play games and apps that will keep it challenging, but most of all playful. Many apps companies put out holiday versions – to be updated during a special holiday, i.e. Sago Mini, Highlights, Lego, and Edoki – so be sure to check out your update section at the app store or google play for these classic apps that include a holiday theme.

Weirdwood Manor is a series of 6 interactive books by All Work, No Play. What makes this series so exceptional is the sheer fun of original storytelling with a spooky theme, beautifully rendered animation, and interactive puzzlers that give rise to creative problem-solving. It is a perfect blend of reading and gameplay that immerses you in the world of Weirdwood. The story centers on the lives of three talented children who are unique – and have been misfits at home. They’ve won a prize to come to Weirdwood to meet Arthur Weirdwood, an author, and inventor, but soon things get a little weird… This is a must-have series for elementary and tweens as it celebrates the unique and talents of all – and that is a message worth repeating.

Ravensburger’s Whoowasit? is a play on the classic game of Clue. It’s a “who done it” with an interactive punch! There is a bit of a learning curve to play, and it is worthwhile to go through the tutorials. The story centers on the children of a castle finding a lost ring hidden by the evil wizard. To find the ring, a room to room search must be undertaken. In each room, participants can either find hidden foodstuffs to bribe the animals into talking or keys to unlock a chest of a suspect. Oh, and there is a pesky ghost to deal with…

Highlights Hidden Pictures is a subscription model that is updated frequently to remain current with the season. Who hasn’t known and loved these puzzlers? Hidden pictures add challenges of timed and sequential order for finding objects hidden from view as well as the time-honored standard of finding them at leisure. I love how the app grades the complexity within a level. In settings, a parent or teacher can modulate what type of clues are given – by a visual – picture, auditory – word, or to hide the clues altogether and have the child discover the hidden pics on their own. In addition, by adding a black and white picture to the mix, it makes it a little harder to find the objects and is reminiscent of the Highlights magazine. These are great games for visual scanning and learning to think outside the box.

Another Highlights Halloween App is Highlights Puzzletown. It is also based on the subscription type service, however, as in the Hidden Picture app, the holiday puzzles are free to download. The puzzlers include hidden pictures, mazes, interlocking puzzles, and a find the difference within 2 pictures. I love these kinds of challenges for kids as it teaches early spatial and visual discrimination skills that are so important for reading and writing. Highlights is a well-researched and trusted brand that parents can rely on. There are no IAPs for secret gems, hints, or advertisements. The subscription model is for bringing in new content to keep their app fresh and challenging.

Lego Scooby Doo Escape from Haunted Isle couldn’t be more fun than as it contains two long-standing kid favorites – Legos and Scooby Doo. Lego Scooby Doo is a fast runner type game that helps build eye-hand coordination, challenges spatial abilities, and problem-solving adapting to environmental needs. Play centers around completing missions and solving a mystery. It would be super to have this sold as a set with Legos to build the items that are in the app to extend play. Now that would be grand!

Monster Park – Dino World Walking with Dinosaurs by Vito Technology is a load of fun by putting a wee scare into you. Made with Apple’s new ARKit, the two dinos are lifelike and it is unnerving to see T-Rex prance about your living room. Currently there are a T-Rex and a Pteranodon – hopefully, more dinos will be added in a future update or add-on pack. Some of the activities are walking with a dino, taking pictures with your dino, and even making a video. The coolest part of the app is to open a portal into the time of dinosaurs. Once opened, walking in is a snap and it is a wondrous scene taking you back into the time of dinosaurs.


Trick or Treat Little Critter
is an interactive storybook by OceanHouse Media that explains the customs of Halloween to little folks. It describes in detail the expectations and roles to play at Halloween as well as all the great benefits to Trick or Treating. It always amazes me how a few kids have no idea what is going on during Halloween because no one has explained it to them. Often there is not an older sibling or friend that explains what the holiday is like in Kid’s Terms that would make it remotely interesting and something that they should invest time and effort into participating. Too many kids, the thought of dressing up in something uncomfortable, staying out late, and all the noise is just too much. Once they have an idea of the benefits to be reaped in terms of attention, candy, and fun…they are all in. OceanHouse Media is a company that always comes to the rescue in explaining the world and its customs to kids.

Peek-a-boo Trick or Treat by Night and Day Studios is a classic app for beginning iPad users. The app itself is an open play invitation to investigate further and gives kids time to process what they need to do to explore the characters inside a haunted house. A gentle tap or swat for kids on the iPad opens a door to a Halloween denizen. The simple but bold graphics on each page enhances vocabulary without unnecessary visual or auditory clutter – making the labels clear. Once the doors are opened, kids are treated to an animation. Repeat play reveals a hint of who is behind the door – and builds good listening skills. I like that you can choose between an adult or child’s voice.

Go Away, Big Green Monster! Is an action-packed app that can be Read Along with the exciting author and narrator, Ed Emberley, Read Along with a child narrator, Read by Myself, or have the Story Sung in an upbeat jazzy tune.  The benefits to this playing are both learning about the vocabulary for body awareness, but the ability to anticipate and sequence a story. We use this app in therapy all year round as its liveliness is simply infectious.

 

I look forward to Sago Mini Monsters Halloween update every year. This is an app that can be used for children that have mastered single causation in play, and need more of a challenge. The Halloween version has kids bring up a monster face from the green slime pits. He is then dusted off and painted, given new accouterments, and then feed all sorts of treats and goodies. There is a price to pay – and if you eat a lot of treats – you need to brush your teeth! I love how daily routines are reinforced in this app. Brushing teeth is often hard to incorporate in a young one’s day. And practicing this in-app presents an opportunity to familiarize them with the sequence to the task and make it non-threatening.

In Summary

Take a peek, trick or treat, and download an app or two. You can’t go wrong with any of these selections. Halloween is a play time for one and all!

 

Masterpiece Mix by Roxie Monro

by Jo Booth

This post originally appeared on the blog Developmental Play and Learning

Masterpiece Mix by Roxie Munro has been an enormous hit at Easterseals in our preschool. The book is beautifully written and the author is speaking directly to children in the language that is developmentally understood. Of course, the artwork is fantastic and done in Roxie Munro’s award-winning style of realism with just a wink of whimsy. The book consists of extra-large and thick pages that are perfect for repeated readings and the handling of preschoolers.

Inside Masterpiece Mix

The story begins with Roxie trying to decide what to paint. She readies her canvas giving kids a peek at the life of an artist and what an art studio might look like. Should she paint a landscape – which we learned was a picture about places, a still life, or portrait? It is most impressive how she speaks with ease and explains the different categories of paintings. Scattered throughout the pages are classic paintings covering all the surfaces of her workroom – some even hidden on mugs and calendars! I had one boy who is dependent on a ventilator and probably had not been to an art museum before sitting in rapture, staring at the paintings on each page. At one point he grabbed my arm to get a closer look, and in that moment I knew his life had been changed by the exposure to art from this book. He had experienced beauty and the notion of creativity was planted. The last page of the story displays what Roxie chose to paint. The kids loved all the hidden works of art contained in her painting and enjoyed seeking out paintings they had seen previously. In the back is a key to all the artwork in the book, explaining both the piece and a little bit about the artist.

Extension activity

After our classes read and explored the book, we decided to make our own masterpieces. We got out the tools of our trade – markers, pencils, and crayons and went at it. It was exhilarating to see the kids so inspired. We then framed each one and displayed them for all to see. A follow-up session gave each child the opportunity to describe their masterpieces. We used a plastic microphone and gave everyone a turn to say something about their work. It was fascinating to hear the depth of answers to poised questions from their peers. It boosted the spirits of all for not only the day but for all the days to come. The message was clear – There was a masterpiece inside of them too. And what a message that is!

This video was filmed at the Friendship Academy, inclusive preschool program. We believe that everyone contributes, and through our shared experiences that we all are stronger.

This post was originally published at http://www.playful-living.com.

Build, Engage, and Change with Adaptive Design Association Inc.

by Jo Booth

On Friday, July 28th, I had the good fortune to be able to attend a training sponsored by the Adaptive Design Association Inc. in New York City. Through a grant, the Adaptive Design Assoc. hosted a training for designers, therapists, and skilled craftsmen from the Philadelphia region on the construction of adaptive equipment for people of all abilities. Gratefully, EasterSeals of SEPA was well represented! The goal was to spread both techniques for making products as well as to set up pockets for collaborators to continue this important work by consulting and constructing items of need within their home communities. It doesn’t really matter what “the norm” is, as we all have needs and will most probably require an adaptation at some point in our lives. You see, sometimes it may be to change the angle or view for an individual so that they can complete their work, provide postural support, or be able to complete daily routines or activities of daily living by changing the structure up a bit. If you begin to presume competence in others, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by what a person is indeed capable of doing or understanding.

About ADA

The Adaptive Design Assoc. was founded by the vision of Alex Truesdale so that the designs and their construction could improve the quality of life for individuals to simply function within their environment. ALL items are customized for EVERY CLIENT and can be made from simple tools and construction materials. Many of the adaptations were made from tri-ply cardboard, glue, and “wooden nails”. The lifespan of the adaptive devices made from these simple but humble materials far outlasted many commercial materials, and in fact, many could be adapted quickly as a person’s needs changed rather than purchasing new equipment altogether. Alex in her overview of her life’s work described the unique relationship between the designers, creators, and clients. She stated that this relationship was the ground or heart of the creative process. When pieces were made from mutual respect, open communication, and yes – love; they could address the needs of the client in a more organic and direct manner. One of my favorite pieces was a stairway to assist a child in independently getting in and out of his wheelchair painted in a Spiderman motif that was totally awesome! When viewing pictures of the designs from the past, it was fascinating to see that what stood out was the individual, and not the design itself. The technology had simply fallen away from view. The Motto for this community of makers is: “Build for One, Engage Everybody, Change Everything™” . At ADA, anything is possible.

Participating with the Adaptive Design Association

The ADA encourages active participation from all as they believe that by using many hands, no detail goes unnoticed. Improvements spontaneously arise from collaborative efforts. The ADA offers many opportunities for learning and involvement. Visiting their website is not only inspirational but also a source for people to learn – tutorials on the process of making adaptations are offered on the website. Workshops, intern positions, and opportunities to volunteer are all ways to become involved and so that you can make a difference in your community. Over the next few months, I hope to show you in more detail, the process of learning to fabricate adaptations that are made with cardboard.

8 a.m. Hot Dogs are Mission Critical for Walk With Me!

by Liz Graham

There are quite a few things that are absolutely critical to making Walk With Me successful – Ambassador families, volunteers, dedicated team captains, sponsors, donors and after one misstep I learned…HOT DOGS! I naïvely underestimated the importance of the 8 a.m. Hatfield Hot Dog one year; it is a lesson I did not need to learn twice. Easter Seals is so very lucky to have a longstanding community partner and corporate supporter in Hatfield Quality Meats. They have hosted golf outings, supported cause marketing campaigns, volunteered and of course donated hot dogs. Way back in 2008 I was managing my third Walk With Me event and planning was going well, until that fateful call from Steve Clemens in March. Hatfield Quality Meats had a company wide anniversary picnic the same day as Walk With Me and would be unable to attend. Generously they would still donate 2,000 hot dogs but would not be able to send their truck and grill set-up or be able to loan us their large outdoor event grill – everything would be in use at the picnic. I took a deep breath, considered how we could manage to cook 2,000 hot dogs on the Art Museum Steps and decided that logistically it wasn’t possible. We would have to find an alternative option for 2008.

I reached out to critical staff, volunteers and sponsors to get a consensus of what food items we could substitute for hot dogs – bagels, pretzels, snack bars, fruit…I actually thought I had come up with a reasonable plan to feed our participants at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning in June.

And then there was mutiny.  I was wrong. There was adamant and unanimous feedback that we MUST have Hatfield Hot Dogs. How could I imagine Walk without them? What was I going to tell the lines of participants expecting their Hatfield Hot Dog? Did I want to ruin the event?!

So I called Steve Clemens, thanked him and Hatfield Quality Meats profusely for their generous donation and scheduled a pick-up of 2,000 hot dogs for two days before the event. How do you store 2,000 hot dogs for two days with no commercial refrigerator? Well I took some home, other staff took some home and we packed the two standard refrigerators at the office. Since the City of Philadelphia requires a special permit to use an outdoor flame we ordered electric hot dog rollers and got to work at 6 a.m. on the Art Museum steps. We never stood a chance. Hot dogs were cooked…SLOWLY. Hot dogs were consumed and enjoyed…RAPIDLY. Our food volunteers worked until they were completely exhausted. We had many comments that our participants enjoyed the event but it just wasn’t the same without Hatfield Quality Meats and the hot dog truck there. They missed Steve, Smiley and the staff that does the cooking.

After cleaning up the event, I got in my car and vowed to never host a Walk With Me event that Hatfield is unable to attend!

That year I learned just how strong of a partnership Hatfield Quality Meats and Easter Seals Walk With Me had formed. Our participants love and appreciate Hatfield’s participation, support and hot dogs. This partnership has continued to grow and strengthen, it has continued to add a vital component to Walk With Me through their donations of labor, food and love. But more so, this partnership continues to provide critical resources for the families we serve.

I so very much enjoy working with Hatfield Quality Meats and the Clemens Family Corporation. They are wonderful people with huge hearts and love of community. We are very lucky to call them friends and even luckier they know how to grill a mean dog!!!

 

There is No “I” in Team

by Adrienne Young

It has been four years since the Bucks Division started on the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) journey to improve the quality of our programs and to bring staff, parents and children together as a team through “positive possibilities.”

This year, we submitted our Benchmarks of Quality, stating that we are providing the proper strategies and supports to staff, children and families related to our behavioral expectations. In May, we were recognized for fidelity by the Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network in Hershey and received a banner that is proudly hanging up in our vestibule. Thanks to all of the parents, staff, from the administrative staff, the classroom staff, therapists, nurses, the coaches, the Core Leadership Team, Mr. Dan, our music therapist and our amazing Facilitator, Meghan von der Embse. And an extra special thanks to Janet Rubien, our former Director of Programs – she was there with us from the start, cheering us on and brainstorming with us as a member of the Core Leadership Team.

PBIS fidelity could not have happened without the team working together and I am so proud to be a part this amazing group!

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Secretary of Education Visits Easter Seals

by Janet Rubien

The Alliance of Approved Private Schools was honored to host Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, on Thursday May 18th. During the visit, Mr. Rivera toured the Easter Seals Schools in Philadelphia, a school that serves students with profound needs. While stopping in classrooms Mr. Rivera had the opportunity to interact with students, and participate in classroom activities.

After the tour, Mr. Rivera met with members of the Alliance of Approved Private Schools to discuss initiatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Mr. Rivera addressed PDE’s commitment and efforts to address Teacher Shortages, Funding, and creating environments where all students can grow to their full potential. Mr. Rivera spoke passionately about protecting and meeting the needs of Special Education children. The Alliance of Approved Private Schools, Mr. Rivera, and PDE are looking forward to working together to help children across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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Looking forward to Walk With Me

by Eva Delmonte

Eva is 12-years-old and was a volunteer at last year’s Walk. Recently, she came in to volunteer on her day off from school to help get ready for this year’s event. While she was here, she had the opportunity to meet Mung, one of the Honorary Ambassadors. She also took a little time to write some of her memories from last year.

I absolutely enjoyed the Easter Seals event. It was very fun to be at the zoo. They even provided water, other refreshments and hotdogs! The best thing was walking around the zoo and seeing the animals, especially the giraffes! After the event I got to explore even more because you get all all day pass if you go to the Walk. I loved this event and if you come, I know that you will too!

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Eva and Mung

To register for Walk With Me, visit http://www.walkwithme.org/philadelphia