Holiday Home Run Gifts: iPad Minis, Apps, and More

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  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas ($2.99)
    It's the original Dr. Seuss book that comes to life, rather than the equally wonderful Chuck Jones/Boris Karloff/Thurl Ravenscroft movie. Never fails to delight our crew. And, as with all the Oceanhouse Media OMBooks, I love that it lets our kids click on each word individually, and "read" the book themselves.

  • Geography Drive USA ($4.99)
    A cute, fun, educational trivia sprint through the 50 states of the USA, and an app to warm this geographile's heart. My kids and I playing this game equally, and Leo especially enjoys getting to trick out the custom car in which the sprinting occurs. I hope European or Counties of the World versions aren't far behind!

  • Toca Band ($1.99)
    Pretty much Leo's App of the Year. Free-form musical play, aw yeah. I love demoing this app when I give iPad workshops, and showing how easy it is for Leo to use, plus how much he loves it. The crowd always goes wild, I'm guessing your child will, too.

  • Go Go Games ($1.99)
    A suite of games developed specifically to help autistic kids practice noticing and differentiating between objects in their environment. Unlike many other apps aimed at kids with special needs, this one is actually fun -- Leo plays it nearly every day.

  • Trains by Byron Barton ($1.99)
    Another interactive story book, part of a series that includes Boats and Planes. It may be a stereotype that autistic kids love trains, but in Leo's case it's absolutely true. One of the highlights of my son's November was getting to play with his Trains app ... on a train.

  • Wreck it Ralph StoryBook Deluxe ($6.99) - or any movie tie-in storybook app.
    Leo has a hard time sitting through movies in a theater, especially if they're unfamiliar. But now studios like Disney are starting to release storybook apps before releasing new movies, which means Leo can get to "know" the movies before he sees them. And that helps make his movie-going experience so much more enjoyable. One caveat: these storybooks can be take up a lot of space -- nearing 1 GB in some cases. Not great for devices with limited storage, e.g., the entry-level 16 GB iPads, Minis, and iPods.

  • Coloriffic ($2.99)
    For kids who like to color and create -- the first decent app I've found for young artists who want a rounded drawing and painting experience, and also like coloring books. Feels like a junior Paper. Another Emma Apple recommendation.

Like our own universe, the iDevice, app, and general tabletty-gadget milieu is constantly expanding, and it certainly can't be entirely contained for holiday shopping purposes -- so I'm hoping you have your own advice about which devices, accessories, and apps frantic folks should consider for their favorite kids. Let's talk -- what are your favorites?

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Shannon Des Roches Rosa usually works something about iPads or apps into each and every 2010 and beyond post at ThinkingAutismGuide.com, BlogHer.com, and Squidalicious.com.

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