Over the last few years there have been huge changes in the use of technology in school classrooms. More and more school districts are investing heavily in technology and children are using technology in the classroom from an increasingly early age. In my own local school district we’ve seen the introduction of smartboards, Chromebooks and tablets into the classrooms. To make optimal use of this technology there are often other accessories that are needed alongside the devices themselves.
I recently had the opportunity to review some of Kensington’s line of iPad accessories. With my twin 3rd graders I tested 3 accessories that can be used both in the classroom and at home: the SafeGrip Rugged iPad Case, the Wired Keyboard for iPad with Lightning Connector, and the Gummy Grip Stylus for Kids.
SafeGrip Rugged iPad Case
When using an iPad with kids a must-have is a good protective case. The SafeGrip is a protective case with a built-in carrying handle that also serves as a stand. It is available in versions for all models of iPad and iPad Mini, the different models are slightly different in color choices and shape but have similar construction and functionality. I tested the iPad Mini version.
The SafeGrip is made of a thick, flexible, cushioned material that reminds me of the material Crocs are made from. Installing the iPad in the case is easy, as the material is flexible and it feels secure once in place. It has a textured surface making it less likely to slip out of your hands, and the front of the case is higher than the screen giving it a bumper of protection if dropped face down. My kids loved the carrying handle – and carrying it via the handle is much more secure than carrying the iPad without. There is no built-in screen protector but it does come with an adhesive screen protector. It has a slot in the back to hold a stylus and a place to write a name.
There are 3 different angles to use the iPad- flat, upright and typing mode. In typing mode the handle is folded 90 degrees and the iPad lies at an incline, this position is very stable and works well. In upright viewing mode the handle is also folded to 90 degrees and used as a stand. This mode is stable if the child is not touching the iPad, though a child with poor fine motor skills could knock it over if repeatedly touching the screen.
My children really like this iPad case and I love how protective it is and that it make it easy to carry the iPad securely. I think it is a great case for the classroom.
RRP for SafeGrip for iPad Mini is $39.99 prices vary for other models.
Wired Keyboard for iPad with Lightning Connector
When using the iPad for school work children will often need to type and having a dedicated keyboard is easier then using the iPad’s touchscreen. There are many Bluetooth keyboards on the market but when using it in a school setting a wired keyboard can be a better choice. Having 30 different Bluetooth keyboards in a room competing to connect and ensuring each keyboard is paired with the right iPad can be a nightmare! The Kensington wired keyboard is designed to work with any Lightning connector iOS device and I have tested it with the iPad Mini iPad Air 2 and iPhone 5.
The keyboard has a very rugged feel to it and I think would hold up well in classroom use. It is a similar size to a laptop keyboard, so is more like typing on a computer than most iPad keyboards. Because it connects via the Lightening connector it gets its power from the iPad, so does not need to be recharged or have batteries changed which is another advantage in the school setting. I found it works very well, has comfortable responsive keys and for my 3rd grader son, who has handwriting issues and needs to type a lot of his assignments, it is a great choice.
For a classroom setting I think this is a much better choice than a Bluetooth keyboard, it is rugged, needs no batteries or Bluetooth connection and is comfortable and responsive for typing on. It is also useful at home for children who need to type on a tablet for homework assignments. RRP for the Wired Keyboard is $54.99
Gummy Grip Stylus for Kids
When using iPad apps, especially writing and drawing apps, a stylus can help to keep the iPad screen clean. It is also better for practicing handwriting than using a finger. The Gummy Grip is a stylus designed with children in mind and is sized to fit small hands. I love that its triangular cross-section encourages kids to hold it with a tripod grasp, which is something my 3rd graders are both working on in OT. It also has a hole for a lanyard so you can tie it to the iPad case to prevent the child from loosing it. The only issue I found that was too wide to fit in the stylus storage slot on the back of the SafeGrip case for iPad Mini, which seemed a pity, though you could still attach it to the case via a lanyard. I think the Gummy Grip stylus is a great choice for kids- it is relatively inexpensive at $9.99 and sized to fit small hands.
NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.