Cause Effect Apps

As a OT, the skills and ages of  the students you service can vary tremendously.  You may be supporting students accessing the regular education curriculum to students working on life skills or basic of cause and effect skills. They can be young or older students all needing different skill development and age appropriate activities for them to work with while in the regular education classroom when with their peers.  Finding age appropriate activities and apps when working with older students at the middle and high school can be a bit tricky, especially when looking for cause and effect apps. So, my recent quest focused on look for age appropriate cause and effect apps suited for older students.

Many of the sensory apps I have been using and previously mentioned in an earlier post were appropriate apps for cause and effect activities for older students. A search for additional apps found many apps for toddlers and preschool students but few for middle school age and above.  I wanted to find appropriate apps that would facilitate interaction with same aged peers knowing that the iPad can be an interaction magnet!  Student love to play with the iPad!

As always there are many factors to consider when choosing apps. Here are a few things I considered when choosing an app for middle to high school aged students:

  • What kind of interaction or touch are you wanting to develop? Are you looking for a gross movement or interaction – “hit the screen any where” to get cause and effect or are you looking for isolated finger control to improve accuracy to prepare for more precise selection such as a communication board or activity with smaller icons or controls?
  • What kind of response or effect is motivating for the student? Do they need sound, movement and/or visual? Can the visual on the screen be many (or busy) or does it need to be simple, easily seen, large, have high visual contrast?
  • Are you needing an activity that you will be using a switch for interaction?

With the above considerations in mind, what apps are available for young and older students?

Here are some cause and effect apps for I think are appropriate for older students:

Fun Bubbles – ($.99) – Simple interface to pop bubbles presented on the screen. This requires eye hand to pop the bubbles and can help develop fine motor skills and more refined touch. Discussed previously in earlier fine motor post.

Cat-Fishing – (Free)- If you can get past this being an app for cats (it is made by Friskies), this is a great, simple tap the swimming fish (of which there is just one at a time) app. It has great contrast with colored fish on a dark blue background. There is no sound to this but definitely has the movement/animation and visual to attract attention. The speed of the fish swimming increases as you tap or catch one and only goes to 10, then you are a winner and can simply start again. No having to buy anything else and there are minimal ads. This was to me a great find and will work I believe for older students. It is like a Pocket Pond scaled down with a goal.

Jitterbug– (Free) – Previously mentioned in the leisure post, also a Friskies app (just forget this is a cat app!) presents brightly colored bugs that crawl across the screen. The black background allows a strong contrast for students when viewing this and is an added plus visually. There are levels and scores (you could collect some data with the scores?) but also an advanced level where you can select how many bugs you want. A slider allows you to select up to 5 bugs of the 5 types of bugs available. Counting and simple addition could be used with this apps although not the goal of cause effect software, but an added plus if using it with other students with basic math (adding, counting by, 1’s, 2’s or 5’s are possible with its use). I like the simplicity of the interface and contents. Ads are minimal. Reinforcement of isolated finger use can easily be done with this app.

Random Touch – (Free) – A simple app which you touch the screen and a random object is stamped on the screen. A sound (dings, boings, honks) also accompanied by each touch or stamp made on the screen. Hitting the screen, dragging your hand on the screen can stamp multiple objects and cause multiple sounds. With dragging my hand on the screen it also closed the program due to finger slides or flicks. The objects stamped are clean images of real objects, numbers, letters, shapes and colored line drawing appropriate for kids of a variety of ages. Facilitating the use of isolated finger touching or generally touching the screen would be appropriate with this app.

Fluidity– (Free) – One of my favorite apps for its interesting colors, actions and formations, is free.

Fluid – (Free) – Similar to Fluidity, it provides water over a background picture. You can splash the water when you tap on the screen and listen to the water splash.

Heat Pad– (Lite)- Thanks to Erin and Gail for sharing this app with the rest of us at school, this free app provides a heat print and sound when you touch the screen.

Pocket Pond– (Free) – This app provides a pond with fish swimming randomly in it. When you touch the iDevice the pond surface ripples and wave and makes the sound you would hear with authentic sound. The fish move when you touch them. Feeding the fish, adding more fish or dragonflies or lillypads to the pond are other features of the Pocket Pond. Young and old are intrigued by this app.

Wipe and Learn – ($.99) – This cause and effect app requires swiping a picture tool to erase to reveal a hidden picture. The app has a huge variety of background pictures. The background picture name is spoken aloud when it is revealed. Requires more accuracy, attention and motor skill to wipe the who cover off the background prior to moving on.

iLoveFireworks – (lite/$.99) – Touching the screen causes a display of fireworks that varies each touch. Provides fireworks sounds with each touch.

Most of these apps I chose have movement, are highly visual and provide sound to keep students engaged.

If you want more information on switch access with cause effect software go to the iPad go to RJ Cooper’s website for a switch interface hardware .

Do you have any apps to add to the collection that you like to use with older students? Please share them if  you do!


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, iPad, iPod/iPad Accessory, Special education and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Cause Effect Apps

  1. Just wanted to say your blog is amazing! I just posted about it at OT Exchange and on Facebook. It is so organized and helpful to have the categories. There are so many apps out there that it is very beneficial to be able to get some suggestions. Keep up the great work!!!

  2. Kathy says:

    Have you seen Cat Alone? Yes, it is designed for cats, but it is free, has clear pictures, and different pictures. Basically, things like butterflies or lights move slowly around the screen. When you touch one, the picture changes and you hear a sound.

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