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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!”

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Customized Flash Cards

Customizing the “My First Words” app for Stella so easy! I took pictures of familiar objects around the house, added photos of friends and family, and recorded my voice next to each entry. For 40 new words, the whole process took me under an hour.

custom words

Although *I* was wildly impressed with the custom category of words, Stella didn’t seem to notice a difference from the generic photos. Her response to hearing “mom’s” voice was also the same as hearing the perky lady voice that came with the app. I imagine that this customization feature hits home with older children who already have an active vocabulary (toddlers and above). Customized categories or not, thank goodness the app finishes the audio track for each word before advancing—despite a preemptive touch— because Stella’s paw was on rapid fire mode:

I can’t give enough positive feedback for the “My First Words” iPad app, but unfortunately it was removed from the iTunes store shortly after I posted my first review. When I e-mailed the SmartBabyApps support team for more information, they gave me this response:

Thank you so much for your help and support. Unfortunately, we had some problems with the latest update of the app and will bring it back again in the near future.

I hope they work out their issues soon because this really is a fantastic app!

Day 1: Flash Cards

She’s not quite 12 months, but our iPad 2 is here! What, am I going to leave it in the box or something? Stella reviewed the “My First Words” app from from SmartBabyApps.com

The FOODS category did not elicit overwhelming excitement immediately, but she did start to babble 30 seconds into seeing a few words. After 2 minutes, she actually leaned over to lick the screen! That orange looks so tasty! Other flash card apps use cartoon images instead; having realistic images certainly made an impact. When we switched to ANIMALS, she became more vocal, and she even giggled at the image of a grasshopper.

After 4 minutes of viewing words, she was done, which was longer than I expected her to last. The app includes this recommendation:

5. ALWAYS stop before your baby wants to stop. By keeping your baby wanting more, your baby will constantly look forward to the next learning session with you.

We’ll continue to use this app to explore other categories. We can customize it with pictures from around our own house—and even record our own audio. It’s time to prime my smooth jazz radio voice!