Nicole’s Nook: Creating books with the Book Creator App

Reading on a device can be much more appealing to some students. It can engage them and motivate them in ways that traditional books do not. In addition, it can provide accessibility features that promote comprehension, processing and independence.

Book Creator is an app that allows you to create a variety of robust reading materials. It is available in the iTunes Store for $4.99, and the Google Play Store for $2.49.

iPad Screenshot

Uses for this app include picture storybooks, comic books, journals, textbooks and social stories. You can create daily journals to provide self-reflection or create visual schedules to help with task analysis, transitions and anxiety. Book Creator can also be a teaching tool used to create tutorials, lessons or video modeling.



  • Select NEW BOOK in the upper left corner
  • Select a book shape
  • In the upper right corner, select +
    • Choose what you would like to add…photo, pen, text, sound
    • You can start by adding a photo, choosing from your camera roll or taking a pic
    • You can then add text and move it on the screen
    • To add sound or music to the text, select + and ADD SOUND
      • Make a recording. You can move the sound and put it above or below the text. You can also put it directly over the text, as the sound icon will be invisible when you publish the book to iBooks. Now your pictures or words can speak!
      • Adding sound/text description to images can be especially helpful for those with visual impairments
    • To draw or annotate, select + and select PEN
    • To add shapes and other graphics, select + and SHAPES at the bottom of the box
  • In the upper right corner, select i and you can change the page color or change the settings
  • Continue creating pages by selecting the arrow to the right
  • Once complete, select the arrow in the box in the upper right corner
    • Share via email, AirDrop, DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud
    • Export as a PDF
    • Publish to iBooks
  • If you use video, it requires MV4 for iBooks
    • If you use a video from YouTube, copy the link
    • Double click and highlight the entire link
    • Select LINK
    • You can now hyperlink and paste the URL
    • Give the TITLE one word
    • The URL is now hyperlinked and requires a tap on just one word


For more iPad information, check out our website at

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist – Team NF

Nicole’s Nook: ModMath Upgrade Highlights

In a previous post, I discussed one of my favorite apps, ModMath, and how it can be a useful tool in helping with organization, legibility and sequencing. Since then, it has made some notable changes and upgrades, particularly within its paid version ($4.99).

Some key highlights of ModMath include:

  • Completing math problems on virtual graph paper
  • Good for visual organization and legibility
  • Allows right to left movement
  • Beneficial for “showing work,” provides the ability to import image attach to classwork or homework (Pro version, paid)

For more iPad information, check out our website at

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist


  • Select the + icon in the upper middle of screen to start a new document
  • Name the document (dates are preferable)
  • Tap anywhere on the grid to begin
    • Type the math problem or equation using the on-screen keyboard
      • Keys with additional annotation options will appear with a dot in the lower left corner. Holding that key down will prompt additional options to appear. Selecting from one of those options will change on the key, as well as appear on the grid.
      • The cursor will move left to right; however, this can be overridden by tapping anywhere on the grid at any time.
      • A horizontal line for equations can be created by selecting the following icon: •−• (Tap on one of the dots to extend the horizontal line either to the right or to the left.) 
  • To expand the keyboard for additional symbols, select the arrow in the upper left corner.
  • Move the keyboard anywhere on the screen by selecting the three lines in the center of the on-screen keyboard.
  • The vertical toolbar provides the following additional features:
    • Free version
      • Multiple Page Tool: create multiple pages within the same file
      • Color Swatch Tool: changes the colors of the background grid and fonts
        • Providing contrast can capture and sustain attention, and make information more stimulating.
      • Pro version (paid)
        • Note Tool: insert captions/notes next to the work
        • Import Image Tool: either by taking a photo or accessing the camera roll
          • This is particularly useful in taking a picture of a math worksheet, eliminating the need for the student to shift focus back and forth. Additionally, you can crop the worksheet and just import one problem or section at a time.
        • Once completed, you can share your work by selecting the export icon tool, at the bottom of the vertical toolbar.
          • Options include: exporting to other apps (i.e., Google Drive, Dropbox), emailing it as a PDF or printing


Nicole’s Nook: Read, Markup & Share PDFs with iAnnotate

sc552x414iAnnotate is one of my long-standing favorite apps used for reading, annotating and sharing PDFs. Recently Apple has made some fantastic upgrades and changes, which are definitely worth blogging about.

One new streamlining feature to note, is the option to take and import pictures. This feature now allows you to take a picture and import documents directly with the iAnnotate app. This eliminates the need for a second scanning app, which was previously a two-step, often confusing, process.

Other great features include:

  • Annotate and comment on PDFs: using pen, highlighter, typewriter, or pop-up comments
  • Works with many file types: DOC, XLS, PPT, images and web
  • Access and convert files to PDF
  • Several ways to share: share the annotated file, a flattened file, or just send a summary of your annotations.
  • Works on all apple devices
  • Customize your own toolbars

iAnnotate can be a very overwhelminsc552x414-2g app as it offers so many options and features.  However, this can be a very powerful tool, especially for the older student with NF.  Completing worksheets with this app can drastically minimize fine motor demands.  Students can also use the app with study guides or presentations, marking them up and adding their own notes.  The possibilities are endless!

For detailed information on specific functions, and features, please click on the titles below:

Importing Pictures:

  • Select the LIBRARY TAB
  • Select ADD, then IMPORT IMAGE
    • You can choose to take a picture using the camera or select an image from your Camera Roll. (Hint: The app does not allow you to crop the image.  You may want to take the picture in your camera app vs. iAnnotate, so you can use the editing/cropping tools in the photos app.)
  • Once imported, you will need to name the image and then select it. You can now modify the document using a variety of annotation tools.

Creating a Custom Toolbar:

  • Click the + sign at the top right corner
  • Then select ADD TOOLBAR/+ at the top right corner
  • Press the icon you want to use and drag to right side of screen
  • Repeat this for each icon, up to 11 icons per toolbar
  • Toolbars can include multiple colors of same tool (i.e. many colored pencils, colored highlighters)
  • Press DONE when finished
  • Multiple custom toolbars can be created
  • To edit a toolbar (adding or removing tools):
    • Click the box at the right bottom corner
    • Once it expands, select the toolbar you want to edit
    • To remove tools, press icon and drag to left
    • To add tools, select icon and drag to right
  • To remove a toolbar:
    • Click the box at the right bottom corner
    • Once it expands, select the toolbar you want to remove
    • Then press the + sign at the top right corner
    • Select the trashcan icon at the lower right corner
  • Choose from a variety of toolbars
    • Click the box at the right bottom corner to display all toolbars available

Annotation tools available:

  • Caption: creates notes on page
  • Pen/Marker: use finger to write, color editing available
  • Highlighter, underline, & strikeout: works only with text in a document, not a PDF
  • Stamp: choose from a variety of graphics, including your own photos
  • Custom Stamp: create a custom stamp(s) to save time, especially if stamp is used repeatedly
    • Add the icon STAMP WITH A SPECIFIC IMAGE to your toolbar
    • Select graphic or image you would like to designate to that stamp
    • Press DONE
  • Custom Stamp with Signature/Name:
    • For signature, add the Feather icon to your toolbar, press DONE
    • For text name, add the Typewriter icon to your toolbar, press DONE
    • Select Feather, tap on area and sign name, press DONE, OR
    • Select Typewriter, tap on area and type name, press DONE
    • Tap on signature/name until it blinks, in the upper right, press STAMP
    • Enter a Stamp Name and press CHECKMARK
    • Press DONE
    • Now go back and edit toolbar and add a new icon (STAMP WITH A SPECIFIC IMAGE)
    • Find your signature/text and SELECT
    • Press DONE
  • Typewriter: creates text boxes, change font/color
    • Dictate answers, if built-in dictation is available
  • Wrist guard: available for pencil/straight-line, highlight, underline and strikeout annotations
    • Provides an annotation ribbon that allows wrist stability when using select tools and prevents touch screen registration
  • Camera: insert photo or take photo
  • Microphone: record a sound annotation
    • If sharing the annotated version, the recipient will get sound/audio, but only if opened in iAnnotate (sound will not play in any other app)
  • Print or email
    • Send original or flattened version (viewable, but not editable) or annotated version (viewable and editable)
  • Additional sharing options: export to other apps such as Dropbox or Google Drive
    • Must add OPEN IN EXTERNAL APPLICATION icon on toolbar
    • Send “flattened” version so mark ups can be viewed, when exporting to other apps
  • Create folders to help with organization


– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist


Nicole’s Nook: Taking Notes & Recording With AudioNote

Taking notes in class can be challenging and frustrating for many students, especially those with NF1 who may have diminished fine motor skills and struggle with learning and attention deficits. Often times, they are more focused on the motor of writing and typing, versus listening to the content of the material being presented. For some students, they may even rely on another peer, or adult, to take notes for them.

AudioNote (by Luminant Software, Inc.), an app available in both the App Store and Google Play Store, can be used to record lectures, while also taking notes. The lite version is free, but limits each note to 10 minutes and only allows 2 hours of total recorded time. Upgrading to the full version (App Store: $9.99/Google Play Store: $5.99), will allow unlimited recording and sharing options.


During lectures, students can take notes, draw pictures, or insert photos all within the AudioNote app. Each note entry is time stamped for easy locating and playback of specific portions of the lecture. One helpful tip to prevent taking lengthy notes and missing important parts of a lecture is to simply mark an “X”  with a keyword to create a time stamp for future repeat listening and note taking. During playback of the lecture, the notes and drawings associated with each section of the recording are highlighted.

Students can also import PDF notes or outlines into AudioNote, and take notes directly on the PDF while listening to the lecture. This helps students keep all of their notes organized, while also enabling them to keep up during class lectures. Additionally, AudioNote features an audio amplifier for larger conference rooms, so students can utilize the app in all types of classroom environments.

Try the lite version today, and help your child increase his/her productivity and academic independence!

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist

Nicole’s Nook: Apple iPad Accessibility Features


I have long been a champion of using an Apple iPad to facilitate learning.  Apple has some great built-in accessibility features to make reading, typing and navigating the iPad easier and faster. Some of my favorite features are highlighted below:

SPEAK SELECTION: Text to speech; words can be highlighted as they are spoken aloud. This works with built-in apps and also some third party apps.

  • Turn ON
  • Options include selecting dialect, speaking rate and highlighting of words
  • Get out of that screen; open Safari, Notes or Email app
  • Highlight text, select SPEAK and it will read aloud

SPEAK SCREEN: Text to speech; words can be highlighted as they are spoken aloud. This works with built-in apps and some third party apps.

  • Turn Speak Screen ON
  • Now you are able to swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the contents of the screen
  • This allows reading of text, names of buttons and other interface elements
  • This is different from SPEAK SELECTION

Speak Selection and Speak Screen are both useful tools, even for those students who are functional readers. Having the option to have both auditory and visual feedback while reading is very powerful and can help with processing, comprehension and learning retention.


  • To EXTRACT JUST THE TEXT of an article, click on the left end of browser (you will see 4 horizontal lines). This is extremely helpful in eliminating extraneous information and other distractions such as advertisements, links to other sites, graphics, etc. It helps to zero in on just the article needed. From here, you can swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to utilize the Speak Screen feature.


  • Photos or sketches can be inserted into the NOTES app
  •  Photos or attachments from another source or app can be inserted into the MAIL app
  • When in note or email, double click where you want photo to go.
  • Select INSERT PHOTO and then choose from PHOTO app.


  • When on a desired web page, select (arrow in box) icon on the bottom of the screen. Select ADD TO HOME SCREEN. Name/title the “app” and select ADD. This creates a shortcut to frequently visited websites.

Have some fun and try out these helpful and unique built-in features. To learn more about these and other accessibility features built into iOS, visit

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist

Nicole’s Nook: Chromebooks as a Learning Tool


School has started, and I hope you all are enjoying the start of another school year! Beyond the usual piles of notebooks, binders, pencils and markers, many paperless options are also being recommended to help your child complete school assignments. A lot of schools have opted for Chromebooks and access to Google Docs and Google Classroom for their students and staff.

I will be the first to admit that exploring the Chromebook has been uncharted territory for me. However, this technology is becoming prevalent in so many schools that taking a closer look at its features and options are a necessity.

If you have access to a Chromebook, let me walk you through some of the accessibility features:

Go to the lower right corner and click on the hand icon, Select Accessibility. This can enable:

  • ChromeVox (screen reader, spoken feedback of screen)
  • High contrast mode
  • Screen Magnifier
  • Automatic Clicks (click without using your mouse; clicks when the mouse pointer stops)
  • On­screen keyboard (can be used with a mouse or tapped with touch screen)

To add any of these Accessibility Options, simply click on that option. You can also go to Settings and enable the features you’d like as well as the following:

  • Showing Accessibility options in the system menu
  • Having a large mouse cursor
  • Enabling Sticky keys (this includes holding down the ChromeVox keys)
  • Enabling Tap Dragging (to move objects, tap and drag your finger)

When using Google Docs, there are also some Accessibility options available:


  • Go to TOOLS, select VOICE TYPING (or CTRL/SHIFT/S)

Screen Reader:

  •  CTRL/ALT/Z (reads entire screen)
  • CTRL/ALT/X (reads selection)

This has been a quick introduction to what Chromebooks can offer.  More to come on this new-to-me piece of technology. I wish you all a happy and smooth transition into the new school year!

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist

Nicole’s Nook: GoWorksheet to Enhance Learning

GoWorksheet-Main[1]It’s back to school time and I want to introduce a new productivity app that can benefit many students. Some children with fine motor challenges have trouble with conventional pencil and paper worksheets.  These children can use GoWorksheet to do their schoolwork on an iPad.  This app allows them to focus on the content presented and therefore complete their assignments with less difficulty.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the accessibility features included in the app:

  • Adding word banks – A keyboard pops up when selected and a student can pick from the teacher-created options.  This allows a student to focus on the vocabulary presented.
  • Further, the program allows tapping to fill multiple choice answers rather than filling in bubbles with pencil.  Therefore, this is a major benefit for children who struggle with fine motor challenges.
  • Teachers have the ability to create drag and drop answers which narrows the range of choices and allows students to focus better on the material presented.
  • The program provides audio output that includes more detailed instructions and additional prompting.  This feature is a benefit to students who may do better with audio learning or those who may need extra prompting to stay on task.
  • OCR (optical character recognition) allows text to be read aloud. Parents or teachers can add the text or text can be identified with the built-in OCR feature.  This is another feature that can benefit audio learners allowing them to both see and hear the task at hand allowing them to increase understanding of the material.
  • Some support tips and tricks:
    • This app will likely be most useful to students working in a small group setting or those that have a 1-1 paraprofessional working with them, most likely because of the time and effort it will take to create the worksheets.
    • Once the worksheet is completed, it can be shared via email, AirDrop, Google Drive, Dropbox or other cloud based storage sites.  The worksheet can also be printed or saved to your Camera Roll.

GoWorksheet is available in the iTunes store.  Two versions are available and both are necessary to fully implement this app.  Teachers or parents can use GoWorksheet Maker, which costs $19.99, to create customized worksheets. Students can use the free app, GoWorksheet, to complete the customized worksheet.

For more iPad information, check out my website at

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist

Nicole’s Nook: Journaling with myMemoir

MyMemoirIn this month’s blog, I want to take a look at another one of my favorite apps, myMemoir. Many children start their school day by journaling as part of their morning routine. This very simple journaling app allows them to complete that task on the iPad, thus eliminating some of the fine motor demands.

Let’s take a closer look at what this app can do:

  • Create your own journal. Select “Add Journal” in the upper left-hand corner. You are able to customize the colors and background experience within the app, as well as back your journal up to Dropbox or another file sharing source.
  • When you are ready to make an entry, click on the journal. Then in the upper right-hand corner, click the calendar icon to select the date of your entry and select “Create New Entry”.
  • You will then be prompted to add a photo, which can be anything from your camera roll. Many children want to journal about a photo they took, an experience they had, or even something they have created in another app, such as a doodle or drawing. There are a variety of creative and art apps which allow you to save your finished masterpieces and drop pictures of them in your camera roll. Once you select your photo, you will have the option to move and scale it. Click “Use” once you are finished.
  • You are then ready to start journaling! You can type using the onscreen keyboard or use a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. If you are connected to Wi-Fi, you will also have the option to use dictation via the microphone icon on the bottom left-hand corner of the onscreen keyboard.
  • Once you are finished, you can “Save” your entry by selecting the Arrow in Box icon in the upper left corner. You will also have the option to “Share” as a PDF. Simply scroll to the bottom, and you can either “Email”, “Export” or move to “DropBox”.  If you select “Export”, then select “Open In”.  This will allow you to export to any of your other apps such as Google Drive. For school purposes, this is a great and easy way to submit work!
  • Some support tips and tricks:
    • Utilize the word prediction on the keyboard to speed up typing.
    • To edit your journal entry, highlight the entire entry and select “Speak”. As long as you have Speak Selection” enabled in your settings, this text to speech option will be available. This gives valuable auditory feedback for children trying to proofread and edit.

myMemoir is available at the iTunes Store for $1.99.  For more app recommendations, check out our apps section or view my app page on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital website.

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist


Nicole’s Nook: Doing Math on the iPad

The ModMath app enables children to easily do math problems on the iPad.

The ModMath app enables children to easily do math problems on the iPad.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get from parents and teachers is how to do math worksheets on the iPad. While there are some great apps for annotating PDFs and worksheets such as SnapType Pro and iAnnotate, math is a little tricky as it may move right to left versus reading, which is always left to right.

The free app, ModMath, can be very helpful in completing math work on the iPad. While it does not offer every function I would like to see available for completing math worksheets, it can be a useful tool in helping with organization, legibility and sequencing. The app functions much like a virtual graph pad, which is useful in that it allows children to plot out their work in a much more legible and visual platform.

To get started with this app, just follow these steps:

  1. Add a new document. You can name it by the date or other title to make it easy to find and reference.
  2. In your new document, type your equation using the keypad. You will notice the cursor moves left to right, but you can override that by tapping on any cell on the screen.
  3. Many of symbols have additional options so if you tap and hold, contextual menus with options will display.
  4. The flexible line tool draws horizontal lines, but if you tap and drag, it can cover multiple cells for more complex equations.
  5. To share, you can export as a PDF via email or to other apps such as Dropbox, Google Drive. You also have the option to print your work.

For more app recommendations, check out our apps section or view my app page on the St. Louis Children’s Hospital website.

– Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist

Team NF Member Earns St. Louis Children’s Hospital President’s Award


Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L

Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Newsletter on March 14, 2016.

The Washington University NF Center congratulates our fellow team member, Nicole Weckherlin, OTR/L, St. Louis Children’s Hospital Occupational Therapist, on earning the monthly President’s Award!

What did she do to earn the nomination and receive the award?
Nicole, an occupational therapist and avid runner in her spare time, contacted a local running retailer on behalf of a patient’s needs. She recognized the patient’s passion for running cross country despite having cerebral palsy, which impairs movement. The patient needed better shoes and knee protection for safer running, but the family could not afford the items to enable their child to continue running.

With one foot shorter than the other, the patient required two different running shoe sizes. In addition, frequent falls had led to significant knee scarring, necessitating protective wear for the patient’s knees. After Nicole reached out to the retailer and explained the situation, they offered a customized fitting appointment and donated both the protective knee wraps and properly sized running shoes.

Who nominated her for the award?
Jennifer Miros, Manager, CP Sports and Rehab Center, nominated Nicole for the award, recognizing she had gone above and beyond to provide exceptional patient care. Jennifer said of the nomination, “The store owner wrote us to commend Nicole’s concern for the patient, as well as her support for the patient’s love of running and sense of achievement.”

Keep up the great work, Nicole!