Apps, Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Word Stack App Baby!

Another day, another app.  I found out about this app from being that person on the bus into campus this morning.  When I say that person, I mean the one who happens to sit next to you and then not-so-secretly watches you play on your iPad for 15 straight minutes.  As we were approaching my stop, I mumbled the following incoherent, awkward question: “Heywhatgameareyouplayingthere?”  This poor fellow bus rider looked at me like I was insane, but played nice and told me that it’s called Word Stack.

I had watched her play for a mere quarter of an hour and already knew this was a game that had me hooked.  She was having trouble getting through her current level, and I had already figured out the word relationships in my head and was literally (Chris Traeger style: http://www.tvfanatic.com/2011/05/parks-and-recreation-presents-literally-the-funniest-video-of-al/)  dying to impart this information.  BUT, I waited patiently while she explained the rules of the game and then finnnnnaly asked if I could figure out the current level.  By the time I reached my stop, I’d made a friend (per say) and discovered a great new app to share with all of YOU!

So, what exactly is Word Stack?  It’s a game of word relationships (language!!!).  You are given a starter word in green on the right side of the screen, and 8 additional words in blue on the left.  Your job is to stack the words one by one in the column on the right.  Each word that gets added must have some kind of appropriate semantic relationship with the top word in the stack in the column on the right to make it stick and turn green (synonyms, antonyms, compound word pairs).  

This game is fantastic for older kids working on language, especially for semantic relationships and word relationships.  Although you can’t control how each word will relate to its corresponding word in the list (synonym vs antonym vs compound word), this is a fun way to practice those skills as your clients acquire them!  I also see this app being used very well with adult clients with acquired language impairments.  You can play independently or in a group (either pass the iPad after each word is stacked or have everyone work together to solve the relationship).  Sometimes, multiple words could possibly fit in some kind of relationship with the one already in the stack, but you will be stuck later if you choose the wrong one early on!  LOTS of problem-solving skills involved here!

Price: $0.99 Less than a buck for LOTS of levels, LOTS of language therapy opportunities, and LOTS of fun!  There’s also a free version, but I went straight for the paid one!

A Good Laugh

You Know You’re a SLP Grad Student When…

Do you like top 10 lists?  Of course you do!  Luckily for you, I LOVE top 10 lists (almost as much as I love Ben and Jerry’s Smore’s ice-cream-which, by the way, is heaven in a cardboard container).  Anyway, today was like any other Tuesday of grad school at UW.  I woke up far too early to (what else?) rain, threw down about $300 for text books (big spender!!!), downed the breakfast of champions (coffee in a Starbucks to-go mug), and gained copious amounts of knowledge (of the motor speech disorders variety).  In thinking back on the last 6ish months of graduate school, it’s quite amazing how quickly you become a stereotypical “grad student,” although I do have to say we speechies have a few quirks that are unique to us and us alone.  I wonder if any of these resonate (or at one time resonated) with you…

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A SLP GRAD STUDENT WHEN…

10. You challenge your friend to a “number of pa-ta-ka’s in 30 seconds” competition.

9. You somehow kill 20 minutes talking about barium.

8. The kid you nanny for says he can’t find his DS and all you can think of is Down Syndrome (that would be Nintendo DS for all the “normal” folks out there).

7. Your neurogenic disorders professor asks what memory “looks like” and your (out-loud) response is: “shimmery silver liquidy strands that swirl around in a pensieve.”

6. You have a ratio of 1 male to 1,000 females in every class.

5. Toca Hair Salon and Auntie Maggie’s Recipe get played more than any other app on the iPad.

4. You say the following to your 22 year old roommate: “first we get coffee, then we grocery shop.  First  coffee, then shopping.” And yes, the repetition actually happened.

3. Your eye starts twitching from 3 straight hours of article-reading and you panic that you have obvious fasiculations and lower motor neuron lesions.

2. You tell people what you study and 9 times out of 10 the response is “Oh…so basically the King’s Speech, right?”

1. You diagnose all of your friend’s Microsoft coworkers with aspergers.

SLP in the News

Screening Tools for ASD

This article is a quick read about useful screening tools to help identify children with ASD.  Its approachable language makes it a great reference for teachers and parents as well as professionals!  Thanks PediaStaff for posting the link!

http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/best-practice-in-screening-students-for-autism-spectrum-disorders-asd-7947

Apps, Articulation Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Musical Bubbles

Looking for a super cute app with great potential for therapy?  Wish granted!  Musical Bubbles is an app that let’s you play your favorite kids songs by popping the bubbles that float across the screen.  Each bubble-pop corresponds to the next note in the song.  The app is basic-one screen with one objective.  BUT, sometimes basic can be better than detailed and crazy, especially if you have clients who are easily overwhelmed or unable to navigate multistep activities and games.  I especially love the idea of using this app with kids who have limited motor control of their fingers/hands because you can hit any of the bubbles floating around the get the next note in the song!

Additional ideas for using Musical Bubbles:

  • Use it to help kids pace their speech (say-rather than sing-the words to the song and pace it by only saying one word per pop/note).  You can pop the bubbles (and therefore get the next note) as quickly or slowly as you want, so there’s flexibility in how you want to target their rate.
  • Integrate it into bilabial artic therapy.  You PoP the BuBBles (and get a song!)
  • Simple pull this app out as a reward for hard work during a session.  It’s fun, easy, and unlikely to get a kiddo all riled up.  Plus, the songs are very familiar ones, so you’re bound to be able to use them for target sounds for artic/phono kids!

Price? Only $0.99-a steal in my opinion!  

Articulation Therapy, Books for Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Sideways Stories for Spot-on Therapy

Granted, I’m not all that old, but I like to think I can say things like, “waaaaaaay back in the day, I read all 3 Wayside School books.”  Hats off to Louis Sachar for creating some of the weirdest, yet best books I ever read as a kid! Sideways Stories from Wayside School is a book about Wayside School: 30 stories high with one classroom per story (except for the 19th floor).  The stories are admittedly very strange, but seem to have just the right length of chapters (short), difficulty level, and “weirdness” for elementary-aged kids.  I don’t know if I identified with this school because my elementary school in Winchester, MA, Lincoln Elementary, had one grade per floor (not one classroom per floor, but I still thought it was cool) or what, but anyone from my “generation” who has ever run across this book has loved it.

My personal copy had long since disappeared, but when I came across a tattered and torn copy at my local Goodwill store I had to have it immediately-and it fit the grad student budget juuuuuuust right!  I decided to introduce it to my artic client this quarter- a 9 yr. old boy working on his /s/, /z/, and postvocalic /r/ sounds-once he reached the reading linguistic level for productions.  Not only did he LOVE the book (mom and dad went out to buy their own copy that day), but just think of all the target sounds I was getting in just the title alone: Sideways Stories from Wayside School.  With characters like Mrs. Gorf, Louis, and Miss Zarves, it was a target-sound-gold-mine!

I think there’s sometimes an inclination to default to cool technology with all the bells and whistles in therapy, especially with the 9, 10, 11 year olds.  Don’t get me wrong, we pulled the iPad out all the time and there was never a shortage of basketball throwing or tennis ball “darts.”  BUT, as a recent kid myself, I think it’s still hugely important to remind kids that reading aloud can be a great chance to practice target sounds and have a ball at the same time!  The Wayside School magic just seems to get kids hooked and offer countless opportunities for great productions. In addition to Sideways Stories from Wayside School, there’s also Wayside School is Falling Down and Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger.

Apps, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Scribble Press

Now that finals are over and I’m well on my way out of rainy dodge to a week of sunshine in AZ, it’s time for another app review.  This time I’m talking story creation with Scribble Press.  This app is fantastic for letting kids create their own books (which can even be ordered and mailed to you if you’re feeling sentimental).  What I love about Scribble Press is the ability to start with the “skeleton” of a book and fill in the details so kids can make it their own.

When you click on the “New Book” link, it brings you to a shelf full of book categories.  Does your client love aliens?  CHECK!  Is it Christmas/Hanukkah time and you want to do a holiday themed book?  CHECK!  Check out the various book categories below!

Within each category is a list of actual book “skeletons” to choose from.  The image below shows the book options available in the “About Me” category.

Once you’ve decided on a book, a madlibs-esque screen will pop up with a story skeleton and blank spaces for you to fill in with your client.  This is a great opportunity for them to practice spelling/typing skills if appropriate.  For those kiddos who hate to generate their own sentences or stories, this is great because it gives them a place to start from which to come up with ideas.  You can always go back later and edit the skeleton to be more relevant to your client (or just create a book from scratch with no skeleton).

Once everything is filled in, it’s time to illustrate the book!  The app has a decent selection of images to choose from, but the real gem is the ability to choose from a PLETHORA of colors and a PLETHORA of “marker types” to draw your own pictures.  I love the creativity this encourages in kids. You can always alter your books to target particular artic sounds, semantic categories, or language elements.

 

You’re enticed, aren’t you?  So…the big question: how much is this app?  $free.99!!  That’s right folks, Scribble Press is absolutely free.  Depending on the level of support you want to offer, this app is great for kids of all ages (or maybe even some of the adult clients out there) and opens the therapy floodgates for a multitude of great intervention targets and ideas!