4 Free Art iPad Apps to Use for Students with Special Needs: Art Through Technology

4 Free Art iPad Apps to Use for Students with Special Needs: Art Through Technology
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Technology has become an incredible tool for students to explore art through a non-traditional avenue. The iPad works as a means to dive into new enriching art activities with students who have disabilities. This has worked especially well for students who have tactile aversions such as touching paint, or having oil pastels on their fingers. As an art teacher I had to find a way for my students who did not like getting messy to explore the subject on their own terms. My school is fortunate enough to have access to iPads, and in turn I’ve discovered some tried and true apps that all students can be successful with an added bonus, all the apps I use are free.

Lesson Objectives:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Lesson Procedure:

Students should be walked through each application with the teacher.

Doodle Buddy

This application can be accessed from students as young as kindergarten, and can still be utilized with older students as it has the ability to become more complex if the artist desires. Students can practice free drawing skills through navigating drawing tools and colors. Children can explore what a stencil is and practice their fine motor skills in making the stencil different sizes by tapping and dragging.

Scribblify Free

Scribblify Free

This application lends itself well to teaching students about symmetry in art. The app also allows students to create a piece without symmetry in which they can just explore texture in art. It is also possible to explore vertical symmetry, horizontal symmetry, and four-way symmetry.

Splatter HD

Splatter HD

This is application is one of my favorite for my students that have tactile aversions to paint as they can still feel as if they are getting really messy with their art. It’s a completely digital way to explore splatter painting in a controlled and clean environment. This can also be used as a perfect segue into art history exploration with Jackson Pollock.

Doodle Dandy

Doodle Dandy

Doodle Dandy is a great tool to explore radial symmetry in art. The students can explore color, tone, and tint by changing the saturation of the color. Students have the ability to make organic or abstract art pieces by making decisions in color, size, and the amount of repetition of the marks within the piece. This application tends to mesmerize the visual students as it is fascinating to see the new and fun patterns that emerge through the process.


Assessment of this lesson should be focused on the student’s process of discovery as there often isn’t a tangible product left behind. Teacher led discussions and questions can be probed in throughout the iPad exploration.

As an art teacher who has a specific class period dedicated to students with disabilities I am often looking outside of the box to find new and exciting projects with them. The iPad serves as a good medium to get conversation started between the teacher and students. I often use the iPad as a ‘get to know you’ introduction lesson so I can learn more about the child with whom I am designing lessons for.

The iPad can be muted for students with sensory issues and it can be used individually for students that need a break from over stimulating art rooms. It is important to consider that it can also be used for students that need to work on their social skills by asking the child with special needs to teach another student how to use the program. These applications can be utilized through hand over hand interaction for when a student has a physical disability.

This post is part of the series: Art Projects for Inclusive Classrooms

These accessible art projects work for students of varying abilities. They are excellent choices for the inclusive classroom.

  1. Primary Pollocks: Accessible Art Activity
  2. Special Techie Artists: Artwork with iPads
  3. Texture Artists: Art for Students of All Abilities
  4. Hanging Loop Chandeliers: Collaborative Recycled Art Project