In our speech room we use it to work on:
- Parts of speech
- Multiple meanings
- Expanding vocabulary
Happy Monday Morning! I know many of you have started summer by now, but here in San Diego school is still going strong. As the regular year starts to wind down I really start to look at ways to maintain skills over the summer, and giving families ideas about great apps that are fun and still educational is a favorite tip of mine. I think when you can bring a family together by playing a game and maintain skills- its a homer for everyone One of my favorite ways to work on parts of speech, semantic relationships, and multiple meanings is Mad Libs. This free app is a fun new way to use Mad Libs with students- and a MAJOR bonus you can do them more than once, sometimes we compare our first run to second using screen shots or email.
After you choose a story the app prompts you with the parts of speech. You enter them one by one and create a quintessential, crazy MadLibs story.
Once you have completed the story you can share it or just enjoy as a group!
In our speech room we use it to work on:
As professionals who work toward helping clients establish and strengthen neurological connections, it is important the we understand the brain and it's pertinent components. One of my professors in graduate school encouraged us to always think about the neurology behind speech-language behaviors as well as our practice. That resonated strongly with me, which is why I was extremely happy when I found this app - 3D Brain (free) is a very cool tool for visualizing the human brain. The 3 dimensional interactive model offers a more comprehensive image than even the best text book can. You can rotate the image, zoom, or focus on 29 different structures (I wish I had known about this in grad school). It can also be helpful for trying to explain neurological involvement to families. The interface is nice, and it does a great job of visually differentiating the different areas with color. It is a great resource and you should download it if you haven't already!
"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public." - George Gessel
I Hear Ewe
I Hear Ewe is a free and super simple app that I like using with preschool aged children. It only has 3 screens, each of which displays a 3x4 grid of buttons. Each button has an image of an animal or vehicle - when you activate a button, the view zooms into that image and a voice says "This is the sound a (item chosen) makes: (sound effect)". Once completed, the view automatically returns to the grid. To see one of the other two grids, simply swipe left or right. It is that simple. The screenshots below feature a grid on the left, and an activated button on the right.
Grid/page 1: Farm Animals
Grid/page 2: Wild Animals
Grid/page 3: Vehicles
Depending on the child, I may use this app as a reinforcer, to work on making requests, for categories, for cause and effect, or to practice identifying the right picture when presented with a label and sound effect. You can't customize the voice output to skip the labels (it would be cool to be able to opt for just the sound effects), but luckily there are other apps for that.
Protip: Print out full page screen shots of the three grids, and laminate or place them in plastic page protectors. Children with impulse control issues or who cannot produce the labels can point to the printouts while you remain in control of the tablet and thus the activity.
“The greatest ideas are the simplest.” - William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Pronouns With Splingo
Splingo, the speech and language alien, has a serious of apps that can be excellent supplements to traditional therapy. The apply titled Pronouns With Splingo ($2.99) offers a fun way to practice a variety of different pronouns (he, him, his, she, her, hers, they, them, theirs, I, me, mine, we, us, and our, to be specific). Before starting, the clinician/adult can select or deselect targets to customize the session.
In a variety of virtual settings, two different people or groups of people stand on opposite sides of the screen, each behind a table. At the bottom of the screen is an item as well as a written command (which is also presented auditorally). Commands are simple, such as "The cookie is hers", or "He would like the balloon." The idea is for the student to drag the item to the correct person/people. When not done correctly, there is an auditory "hu-uh" and the item returns to where it started. When the item is dragged to the correct table, it remains there and verbal praise is given.
Periodically, the student is given a reward/break. The scene changes to a child's bedroom and the student is prompted to choose 3-items to add to his room. Once placed in the room, the items animate and remain for future breaks.
* Things to think about: Some children do well identifying pronouns but have difficulty using them receptively. In these cases, the clinician might withhold the device to have the child repeat the phrase out loud before being allowed moving the item. Another, more advanced, option would be having the child answer a question that uses a different pronoun for the same person. For example, if the prompt was "Give the cookie to her," you might ask who wants the cookie (she does). I have also had children who like to repeatedly pick up and immediate drop the item, resulting in a cacophony of huh-uhs and efficient task avoidance. You may want to have a contingency plan ready for the kids who need the behavioral support. Lastly, in order for we and us to make sense in the game, the child must understand that Splingo is the one talking. You could give an introduction, or just deselect those items before starting.
We hope you love Splingo as much as we do!
Max And Ruby Science
Max and Ruby were two of my favorite book characters growing up, so I was of course excited to explore what they are up to in their app series. I was even more thrilled when I discovered the Max and Ruby Science app. Without going into too much detail (I'll be making a whole post on this soon enough), I love using science to work on language development. Regardless of a person's age, experimenting with science is a fun and engaging way to learn. In addition to incorporating visual feed back, it also provides a safe opportunity to take risks. This app is a fun way to introduce and practice early science concepts and related language to children ages 3-6.
This game plays with force and motion. The object of the game is to push a ball into a hole (such as in golf or pool). When you slide your finger away from the ball, an arrow appears, the length and direction of which correlate to where your finger is (relative to the ball). The arrow is a visual representation of the amount of force that will be applied the ball, as well as which direction it will go. If there isn't enough force, then the ball will stop short of the hole. Likewise, it will roll in which ever direction the "push" came from. As the levels increase, different balls appear (needing more or less force to move) and different table textures and obstacles are introduced. As the clinician, you can use this opportunity to work on language in a concrete way. For example, you can discuss what kind of ball it is and whether or not it is heavy. After each attempt, you can talk about what went right or wrong ("we didn't push hard enough; the ball was too heavy; lets push harder this time").
In Water Blast, each level has a pipe that is missing sections. If you get the water flowing before filling in the sections, the water will spill instead of reaching the goal. In later levels, the water passes through a snowflake and freezes. This game is fun for making predictions, exploring cause and effect, and problem solving. You can also talk about how water moves and takes shape, or what happens to it at different temperatures. *Bonus* each level is followed by a brief animated clip featuring a different activity (e.g., Max swimming in the pool or running through the sprinklers), and even more opportunities for language.
The final activity that comes with this app is building an imaginative play scene. The children can choose a background, and place different characters around the scene. As you drag the characters about to place them, their sizes change accordingly (i.e., they appear larger in the foreground and smaller in the background). Once set, they come to life with small animations. You can facilitate specific language targets by choosing items yourself. For example, you can work on negation or exclusion by putting Max playing in a pile of snow into the middle of a green lawn.
We hope you are as happy as we are to see these childhood favorites live on!
IN A NUTSHELL
5 Things we love about SpeakinMotion
Oh my gosh- you guys! This is seriously one of my most favorite apps for speech production. It is so engaging for the kiddos and it is super functional too. Amazing all around, and I use it ALL THE TIME!
The Autism 1- Core is the app that I use the most. It features simple words in early developing syllable structures (mama, boo-boo) and the app has both English and Spanish versions.
The focus on early develop syllable structures makes it perfect for my younger kiddos or those with emerging speech skills and I am never concerned that a word will be too complex.
When you first open the app you have a menu of choices:
Full Length Video
Separated Play Lists
The full length videos will play a video of all of the words in succession. Moving from one stimulus word to the next without the need to push a button (it goes slow enough that there is still time to repeat the stimulus word if you kiddos is participating and will move relatively quickly).
Separated Playlists is the feature I use the most, it allows you to watch the video for each stimulus word individually then waits for you to activate the video for the next word. This allows you to control the pace of the activity and repeat stimulus words if necessary (for some kiddos I like to play the video before each production, and I typically shoot for 3 productions per word).
The great part about these videos is that they focus directly on the mouth, not the whole face, allowing you kiddos to really focus on the specific oral motor movements. This way the kiddos tend to be less distracted trying to interpret facial expressions.
Once you watch the video, you can press a small button shaped like a mirror. This mirror will activate the camera function on your iPhone or iPad to allow the learner to see themselves as they say the word- pretty cool huh!
Starfall Gingerbread App
During my gingerbread man unit, I found that Starfall has a great interactive page for building your own gingerbread man. After having downloaded a few disappointing gingerbread man apps for my iPad, I was happy to see that Starfall had one of their own, and that it is very much like the activities on the website. Starfall Gingerbread is available for $0.99 on iTunes as well as for Android.
There are three options on the main menu: make gingerbread, shapes maze, and my cookie tray. I mostly used make gingerbread so that is what I will focus on for this post...
Step 1 - Decide whether you want to make a gingerbread boy or girl
Step 2 - Choose shapes for the eyes, nose, and buttons. You can try each shape before moving on to the next screen if you have the time. When you choose a new shape, the app labels the shape and then the shapes bounce into place.
Step 3 - Choose your colors. Just as in the steps before, you can experiment with different colors for your shapes and then move on to the next item once you are satisfied. The app will say the color when you push a button and the item of interest will change color accordingly.
Step 4 - Play! Once your gingerbread boy or girl is ready, you can watch as he or she runs away and chants a rhyme similar to that in the story.
This app is controllable (let the students try out all different shapes and colors, or just have them pick one and move on to the next option), visually simple, and fun to use... Happy e-baking!
Why core words?
Proloquo2Go has a system for core words that carries the core words approach through to the topic specific pages as well.
As speech therapists part of our job can be to program speech generating devices for the kiddos we serve. It can be so daunting to decide where to start and what vocabulary we need to have.
In addition to these apps (made primarily for the iPad) many of the dedicated devices (Dynavox, PRC) have user areas dedicated to teaching core words.
So with all this talk about core words, why are they so important?
Here are the reasons we love teaching core words:
The takeaway: core words allow your AAC learners to learn a vocabulary that can transcend a variety of topics and be used all day long. It is a one stop shop for multiple communicative functions and many topic of conversation. It can easily be adapted by removing words and adding them in as your AAC learner's vocabulary grow!
Happy AAC Programming!
Make A Snowman
We miss out on a lot of the winter fun here in San Diego, making it tricky to incorporate the season into our sessions meaningfully. Fortunately, apps are able to augment our experiences to a certain extent. Make a Snowman, by Appdicted, is one of many apps that let you build and decorate virtual snowmen. For an app you'll only use one month out of the year, here are 5 reasons why I think this one is great:
*It is always good practice to play around with new apps before you use them in therapy. This app in particular is important to get a feel for ahead of time - at least it was for me. Once you move on to a new item, for example, the previous items cannot be grabbed and changed - it seems that they become part of the greater background scene at that point. I found this hard to get used to, and it took a few times of starting over before I could complete a snowman flawlessly. Also, I've had trouble with the app shutting down on me when I try to use the 'erase' feature. These things can be annoying, but once you familiarize yourself you'll find that they are easy to work around... or that this isn't the app for you.
Have fun and, as always, we would love to hear about what apps you love using for your winter activities!
AAC Genie is an application that is intended to help SLP's with the diagnostic aspect of AAC assessments. For me, AAC assessments used to be incredibly intimidating. I had no idea what I needed to probe or how to go about creating an assessment protocol. Once I gathered all this information, how do you create a recommendation from all this data? AAC Genie was invaluable to me when I began doing these assessments. It streamlines most of the important information into a one stop shop for evaluating a variety of skills. As far as apps go (for me) this one ranks on the pricer side at $11.99 but it has more than justified the cost based on how much I use the app.
AAC GENIE: THINGS I LOVE
AAC GENIE: HOW I USE IT
So what exactly is AAC Genie? According to the manufacturer's website, AAC Genie "is an informal diagnostic tool that is intended to assist speech-language pathologists and others with identifying skill areas that relate specifically to the language representation methods commonly found on augmentative communication systems." It is important to remember that this app does not recommend specific AAC devices or apps, and nor should one assessment tool. AAC device or app selection should be the product of multiple assessment tools and decisions made through a feature matching process (you can find resources on what features to look for here, here, & here and some resources to compare apps here & here.)
When you finish with your assessment AAC Genie creates this handy printout that you can screenshot and/or save in your photos (watch those last names if you choose this option!) or send in an email. It is great for keeping data and monitoring progress.
The first 2 categories visual identification and visual discrimination are ways to assess the best button size and from what field the examinee can best select from. Visual identification prompts the user to find the _____ from an increasing field of choices and buttons of decreasing size where there is only one picture on the screen. Visual discrimination is laid out in the same way, only the user must locate the icon from a field of foils.
Next up are the language probes. All administered from a field of 3 and with simple probes.
The word association subtests ask the examinee to "find the one the ____ goes with" and even probe negation, "find the one that's not ______."
The final subtests are related to the Unity vocabulary specifically and may only need to be administered if that is a concern for you.
Overall- AAC Genie has been such a great tool for me and I use it so many different ways! I really can't recommend this app enough!
Molly and Larissa are speech-language pathologists in San Diego, CA, who are looking to share inventive, inclusive, fun ideas for developing communication. This is also their platform for highlighting the many amazing people and resources in the community.