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A Year with the iPad 2

It has been ONE YEAR since I started this blog! I set out to document my daughter’s interactions with the iPad 2 from ages 12-24 months. Along the way, I casually reported on her emerging skills related to memory, problem-solving, fine-motor, and language. I have no scientific conclusion to report; we just had a lot of fun! It melts my heart to see the look of accomplishment on her sweet face when she masters a new task—sometimes it comes after pint-sized fits of frustration, but the hard is what makes it great. Am I right, Jimmy Dugan?

We discovered several well-made iPad apps that aided her skill development, and we also discovered a lot of duds. Aside from about $10 worth of regrettable purchases, I deem this journey a great success! We’ll continue to use the iPad 2 to discover new things beyond infancy and toddlerhood. Goodbye, Digital Baby.

Here’s to a great year with the iPad 2:

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Digital Toddler

Stella is almost two years old! I’m starting to reflect on the last year and marveling at how much of a little girl she has become since we started “Digital Baby!” Here are a few recent snippets that especially remind me of how simple iPad apps that we started playing months ago still resonate in her daily activities today:

Yo Bossy Bossy

When Stella gets TV time, she likes there to be few interruptions. So when she saw Jesse peek around the corner at her from the kitchen, she demanded that he go away and “play” without her so that she could veg out in peace with her favorite 2-D characters: Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee, and Plex. When did she become the boss?

This post has nothing to do with an iPad app. It is more of an admission that she hasn’t actually played with the iPad lately…and when she does, she turns on Yo Gabba Gabba through the video app. Hopefully her bossiness and YGG addiction are both just one of many phases.

P.S. This post is for James. A robot is a mechanical friend…made by people to help other peeeeeople!

“Stellar” Rendition of Twinkle Little Star

The *signing* is not exactly pitch perfect, but the *signing* is pretty good! The sign for “star” is made by rubbing the sides of your index fingers together. The “Like a diamond in the sky” part (loosely translated by Stella as “Like a da-do-da-da-da”) is signed by using your right hand to make the letter “d” and tapping it on your left ring finger as you raise it toward the sky. When she is in the stroller, you can see her attempt this sign—she even gets the right finger! Stella learned how to sign this song from the SignShine app.

I wake up to this song belting through the baby monitor about every other day. 🙂

SRL Weekend Update

Stella’s vocabulary is really taking off! Highlights from the week:

Packing sandwiches for the zoo, Jesse asked me how many to make (including grandparents). I said, “Well, Stella will eat one…” Just as I trailed off in thought, Stella chimed in from the background and said, “Two…” as if we were practicing counting. I was stunned. Little did I know, however, that was nothing! Today we were “reading” the 10 Little Ladybug book. We were on the “3” page, and just after I pointed and said, “3,” Stella continued counting from 4 to 9 all by herself. No lie! I have no doubt that the Oscar’s Balloons app contributed to her catching on to memorization so quickly.

After throwing a fit over eating, I picked her up in my arms to calm her. When she was done crying, she patted my back a few times and said, “I sorry. I sorry.” She could’ve learned this from a number of places, including daycare, me, or Yo Gabba Gabba, which is also on her iPad.

I took Stella to work with me this morning (Saturday) to pick up something. Walking down a long hallway to get to my office, she pointed ahead and said, “S!” As far as I knew, the only letters she knew were “A” and “O.” The “S” was a very pleasant surprise!

Repeat After Me: ABC

Stella’s 18 month appointment with her pediatrician is coming up, so I decided to quickly jot down all of the words that she says so that I’d have a ballpark figure. Once I started writing, I almost couldn’t stop. I easily filled up a page worth 65 80+ (see update below) words—words that she regularly says on her own without any prompting from me. (A widely-known benchmark at this age is 20, but it’s common for kids to have much fewer or much more without any indication for concern or pretense.) She also strings a few of them together; her favorite phrases are, “Kick it,” “Where-da-go?”, and “Hi, baby!

Obviously I can’t credit the iPad for everything Stella does. After all, she does get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with me, and she has a phenomenal daycare provider, where she is also surrounded by a 4-year-old boy, from whom she learns a lot.

However, I can’t diminish the iPad’s role in her learning environment either. Not only have I seen some amazing apps with excellent educational value, but I also think the iPad itself has given us a reason to sit down and interact with each other more than we might have without it. We take walks, read physical books, and build blocks together, but what I mean is that the iPad removes the burden of creating both educational content and context, which makes the learning process so much more accessible. For example, I don’t think I would have taken the time to create physical flash cards, let alone keep her interested enough to practice them daily. The iPad just works.

Now that she has started repeating EVERYTHING anyone says, the ABC app has been really fun for me to watch. Most of the time she repeats the letters without my prompting. How cool is this?

Remember, the purpose of my blog is not to make claims one way or another, although I have an obvious bias toward both my daughter and my iPad! I’m simply exploring a new technology that hasn’t been available to us before, so I’m not judging against an alternate approach. What parents do with their children’s educational experience is their own business—I’ve just chosen to share mine along the way.

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UPDATE: We were way off with our estimate. As the week went on—and now conscious of counting her words—there were easily 30-40 more that we missed. I’d estimate that she is well over 100 and into the 120s. According to BabyCenter, this is very common for 19-24 months: “[Your child’s] pace will pick up as he acquires ten or more new words each day. If he’s especially focused on learning to talk, he can add a new word to his vocabulary every 90 minutes — so watch your language!”

Movie Critic

Stella’s new favorite thing to do on the iPad is watch videos of herself from my YouTube channel. I showed her the video of herself going down her new slide, and she absolutely lost it—she was laughing so hard that it gave her hiccups and we had to stop. I decided to record her the next day when I showed her the same video again (this time on my phone). I didn’t get quite the same response, but you get the idea:

I also gave Stella a video to watch of Stella watching a video of Stella, but she seemed uninterested. Too many layers, I guess. (It’s okay, Stella. I couldn’t really follow Inception either.)

Count to Ten

The Oscar’s 1-10 Balloons app ($.99) is a perfect introduction to the concepts of sequencing and numbers. It offers three modes: Learn, Follow, and Play. Stella thinks the Play mode is for the birds, but she’s very good at Learn and Follow.

Pick a Sticker with Your Sticky Picker

Two things to report this week:

1. Stella and I cracked open a new book (hard copy) called Baby Farm Animals. After playing Animal Sounds app on the iPad 2 for a few weeks, I’m pretty sure she expected the book to make noises, too. When we got to “puppies,” she started to bark like a dog, and then looked around the room—back at me, and then back to the book—wondering why nothing else was happening.

2. I finally captured footage of her little pointer finger when playing with drag-and-drop puzzles and “pick a sticker” games. It’s too cute for words, so here’s a video:

Animal Sounds

Animal Sounds by Alligator Apps is such a fun game for Stella’s age (13 months). The game functions in “play” or “auto” modes; Stella seems to like picking her own animals, so I leave it in play mode. (And by picking, I mean attacking the screen with her whole hand.) As with other flash-card apps, you can also customize categories and sounds. It was fun to see which animals elicited a response from her, and which ones were duds. I found out that bison are not that funny, but horses and frogs are hilarious. She is definitely becoming more vocal, which makes this process even more interactive for the two of us.