Random Therapy Ideas, Social Cognition, Social Regulation, Worth Every Penny

All Aboard the Friend Ship

Remember when you had to memorize all the presidents of the United States for U.S. History Class…in order?!? It took me about 2 minutes of blankly staring at flash cards to realize I was never going to cement those names through repetition alone. So where does one turn for help at 10:00pm the night before the test? Music, of course! The Animaniacs saved my tush that night with their president song (proof here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvy0wRLD5s8). Kids are a lot like me when it comes to learning (or should I say I learn a lot like a little kid…): they do better with multimodal, experiential, and “stuck-in-your-head” leaning styles than mere lecture from adults.

Raise your hand if you find it easier to engage kids in post-play cleaning when you sing the “Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere…” song (did you really raise your hand? No one can see you, silly!). That’s because the song jumpstarted a memory for the child (hippocampus activation) that it’s time to clean. We use songs in all corners of education: ABC’s, rainbow colors, counting, wh-questions, etc. I think I can skip the part where I spend a whole paragraph convincing you why songs matter for learning, because our scientific community has already agreed that music activates important association and learning centers in the brain. Instead, I want to introduce you to my favorite new set of songs for facilitating social regulation, social cognitive, and social emotional development: The Friend Ship.

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 10.33.55 AM

You may or may not know that I spend my days targeting social regulation skills with “boys and girls of all ages” (yeah, it’s a bit like the circus!). I am forever on the hunt for innovative ways to help my clients both learn and generalize the key concepts of expected social communication, and music is a personal favorite strategy of mine. The Friend Ship, created by speech-language pathologist Erica Bland, is a CD of songs all about social regulation. With titles like: “What’s the Plan,” “Adding to the Fun,” and “What Zone Are You In,” the songs take teaching and reinforcement phrases I find myself using like a broken record and puts them to a soundtrack of kid-friendly rock, reggae, and hip hop. Whether the songs are used as direct teaching tools or are just on as background music during collaborative play, I find that my clients are humming and singing along after the first couple replays.

Want a sneak peak? Have a listen: https://soundcloud.com/thefriendship-1/sets/the-friend-ship

So how do you get this musical gold mine? Here are a couple ways to make it happen (p.s. it’s only $9.95!!!!!):

Erica also created a companion packet of family or therapist-led support activities to go along with each song. In other words, your lesson plan is already done! So drop whatever you’re doing, pump up the Friend Ship jams, and get your social regulation on!

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

Sundaes Everyday! (Crazy Cat App Review)

I’m always on the lookout for fun, free apps that can be applied for a variety of clients in a variety of settings. The family of _____ Maker (Sundae, Salad, Cake, Donut, etc.) apps by Crazy Cats Inc. fit the bill just right. I have decided to walk you through the basics of one of their apps (Sundae Maker), provide a few pictures of additional Crazy Cat apps that I love to use, and talk about how to use these apps in a number of different ways! All of the apps I’m highlighting in this post are $free.99 (FREE!!!!!), so you can download them without fear!

Sundae Maker begins by allowing the user to choose their sundae bowl or cone. The pictures in all of these apps are the real-deal, so they should really resonate with your clients! There are a good number of images available for each option (bowl choice, ice cream choice(s), topping choice(s), etc.), and you can always unlock more through in-app purchases.

Once your bowl has been chosen, you get to fill it with ice cream. Want 1 scoop? You’ve got it! Want a double-decker-super-size-straight-to-your-hips sundae? Go for it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No sundae is complete without toppings, toppings, and more toppings! Choose anything from candy to nuts to chocolate sauce to whipped cream-the sky’s the limit! Once your sundae is all dolled up, it’s time to “eat” it! You can tap, tap tap the screen to take “bites” out of your sundae until it’s all gone (or half gone, or 1, 2, 3…target # of bites are gone).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what are some other great Crazy Cat apps to consider?

Salad Maker:

Cake Maker:

Donut Maker:

Not convinced yet? Here are some suggestions about how to incorporate these apps for all kinds of clients and sessions:

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech clients: sessions often involve LOTS of practice for getting those accurate motor pattens down. Use these apps as an opportunity to practice target words and phrases a handful of times in context before moving on to the next target term/utterance: pour it, pour it, pour it, pour it, mix, mix, mix, mix, mix, roll out, roll out, roll out, more, more, more, more… This works great in the Donut Maker app since you have to add each ingredient, stir lots of times, combine doughs, fry the donuts, frost them, etc.
  • First, next, last practice: “First we tap the bowl button, then we choose the bowl we want, last we tap the bowl picture.” I did this with my client yesterday as we made a salad, but you could just as easily talk about the order of a functional activity (making a cake) with each choice being its own step (rather than doing first, next, last practice at each step). I just wanted to get as many opportunities in as possible.
  • Articulation clients: Choose options that align with your target sounds/words/phrases and practice, practice, practice!
  • Adjective practice: “What kind of ice cream did you choose?” “Let’s add red gummy bears.” “Hmmmm, can you find the purple icing?” “I’m thinking of a green vegetable to add to the salad. Can you find it?”

There you have it! I hope you find these ideas helpful for your next session with these fun apps!

Random SLP, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Don’t Eat The Bubbles!

Dear world of people who use bubbles with kids:

I will give you one whole dollar if you can honestly tell me that you have never watched a child (oral apraxia or not) inhale or ingest bubble solution while trying to blow those oh-so-magical bubbles (accidentally or on purpose). Let’s just be candid for a moment. It’s GROSS. I have worked as a nanny for lots of kids in lots of families, and I’m always shocked at how many kids attempted to eat and drink things that have either spent a week or more fermenting under the refrigerator or could double as an insect killing agent. With all this in mind, I hate that more bubble solution usually ends up on your client’s face than turning into bubbles. They inhale instead of exhale, they accidentally stick their tongue out, the bubble pops on the wand before it flies away-you name it! “So what’s the solution Hanna???” you wail desperately: The Melissa and Doug Bella Butterfly Bubble Blower OR the Verdie Chameleon Bubble Blower.

I came across these while online shopping one day, and almost jumped out of my seat with joy. Why so great? There is a solid 4 inches of plastic butterfly or chameleon goodness between where the client puts his/her lips and where the wand actually touches bubble solution. As a bonus, it blows great bubbles!!!

You’re welcome bubble-blowing friends!

 

I am in no way affiliated with Melissa and Doug…I just love this product!

Apps, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

iSequence, You Sequence, We All Sequence

I came across this app in a moment of panic, when I realized that the sequencing cards I’d been banking on using for one of my client’s baseline probes were not, in fact, going to be of any use. I jumped on my iPad and happened across iSequences, a great app ($2.99) from Fundación Planeta Imaginario. For less than a grande skinny vanilla latte, you get 100 sequences depicting common, functional activities! Exciting right? Read on!

There are actually 2 separate activities included in this app: the first involves putting 3 or 4 images in order of what comes first, next, last, while the other asks the client to either choose the correct end to a sequence (between 2 or 3 options) or to describe how the character in the sequence is feeling.

I stuck to the first activity with my little guy. Since the app allows you to customize which sequences you’d like to include in your game, I chose only sequences that were functional and familiar to my client (e.g putting on socks, blowing up a balloon, putting together a puzzle). The app will allow the user to put the images in the incorrect order and still move on (which is great for gathering baseline data), but it will also provide a positive reinforcer (fireworks and accompanying music) when the sequence is ordered correctly. There is a few-second delay before the reinforcer appears, so you can always skip to the next set of images if you want to avoid it!

I would recommend this app for anyone looking for a fun, easy-to-manage sequencing activity for their iPad. I love how functional many of the sequences are for children; this makes the app a great support tool for teaching sequencing skills in the context of functional hands-on activities. Although I’m not always a fan of cartoon images, these are clean & clear and get my stamp of approval. I had great success using iSequences to gather baseline data, and look forward to using more in future sessions!

Apps, Language Therapy, Worth Every Penny

Ficky Ficky Ficky…Adjective REMIX!

I think we can all agree that some app developers out there are one hit wonders. Then there are the rare Usher-like developers…the ones who come out with a hit time and time again! Smarty Ears is one of those fantastic app developers, whose apps are always great additions to any SLP’s iPad. Their recent app, Adjective Remix, is yet another great tool for any great speech-language pathologist or SLP grad student! Adjective Remix ($9.99) allows users to practice awareness of adjectives by identifying the item that best matches the cued adjective during each turn. There are 8 categories of adjectives included for practice in the app: appearance, colors, feelings, quantity, shape, size, time, and touch & taste.

Upon opening the app, you have the option of jumping right into the activity (by clicking on the “quick start” button), or adding & selecting specific students who will be playing. If you select students (up to 4 at a time), the app will keep track of their responses, detailing their accuracy for each category of adjective as well as the overall percentage of correct responses. Any app that tracks the students’ responses and records/saves the data gets a gold star in my book, so it’s nice to know that all your data is being tracked as you play! This information (called the report card) can then be emailed and/or printed at the end of your session.

In case you only want to target particular categories of adjectives, you have the option of deselecting either entire categories or specific terms during a given game. The selected categories/terms can always be updated later! You can also adjust the type of feedback for incorrect responses as well as the order of item presentation.

Aside from the logistical pros of this app, I love that you can target multiple categories of adjectives during a given game. The photos all include real objects, making them highly contextual for clients requiring the real-deal (rather than line drawings or clip art depictions of an object).

Since many of the included objects are also common items, you can easily recreate the comparisons in your clinical sessions to provide additional functional practice with the adjective terms. If you are practicing the term “empty” on the app, you can grab baskets and leave some empty while filling others in order to allow for additional, hands-on practice with the concept. Additionally, you can use this app creatively by turning off the sound and text and asking your client to tell you what’s similar/different about the presented objects. Not only will you probably elicit some adjectives, but you will also be targeting comparisons and similar/different concepts!

Since I try my best to be a critical consumer, here are some things I wish were included in the app:

  • The ability to remove the positive reinforcement visual/sound when the student chooses the correct picture. This app would be a nice way to gather some baseline probe data about adjective comprehension, but the data isn’t valid if the child is receiving performance feedback.
  • The ability to customize the categories targeted for each individual client. Although all the categories are important for practice, not every student will automatically be at the same level as their peers in a group session, and it would be nice to customize the target adjectives for each student rather than for the game as a whole.
All in all, I think Adjective Remix is a wonderful addition to your iPad arsenal of apps! Happy “habilitating!”

 

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

Let’s Color Indeed: New Lazoo Let’s Color App!

You know how everyone always asks what kind of animal you would want to be if humans could magically morph into their dream-creatures? Well, If I could be any animal, I’d be a narwhal…unicorn whale!!!!! And since I know you were wondering, if I could be any app developer, I would want to be Lazoo! Lazoo makes the 2 most adorable, fun, all-around-good-time apps, and I am so excited about their new one, Let’s Color!

I reviewed their first app, Squiggles, a while back: https://hbslp.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/squiggles-app/. Like I did with Squiggles, I’ll break down the highlights of Let’s Color.

What is it?

Let’s Color is an interactive coloring “book” for creative kids (and creative SLPs looking to target speech and language skills in a fun way). Choose a page, which is essentially a partially illustrated scene. A little phrase will flash across most of the pages and be read aloud, encouraging the child to add something to the picture: e.g. “What kinds of patterns can you draw on the fish?” or “It’s fun to blow bubbles and to draw bubbles.” While coloring on the page, you can choose your color and the width/texture of your drawing tool (pictured as a marker, paintbrush, chalk stick, or ketchup squirt bottle), and can even add “stickers” to your page!

Once your client (or, ahem…you) is done coloring, press the GO button and watch the page come to life! The app animates whatever was drawn in a short, fun animation that fits with the scene! In the photo below, the balloons are pulling the ants up into the air one by one once they have been colored in 🙂

Why is it great?

Although the app isn’t necessarily designed for speech-language pathologists, it has the key ingredient for any app that will work well in therapy with youngin’s: it’s super engaging for kids! There’s no right or wrong when it comes to coloring each scene. Although the choices for colors/marker widths are limited, this can be a huge benefit for kids who otherwise get caught up in simply deciding which shade of red to start with. How should you get language?

  • Encourage kids to come up with funny ideas of things to add to the picture and then tell you about it (the dragon can breathe ice cream cones and suns instead of fire).
  •   Target colors, shapes, or common objects that appear in each scene.
  • Work on velars: “Let’s GO” “Let’s COLOR

How Much?

Let’s Color is a steal of a deal at $free.99. That’s right ladies and gents: FREE as can be!

I hope you have fun with this new addition to your iPad and find it to be a successful tool in therapy!

Language Therapy, Uncategorized, Worth Every Penny

How Fun? Absurdly Fun!

Super Duper strikes again, this time with an app aimed at helping kids recognize goofy, absurd details from a scene. Listening for Absurdities is a bit like a miniature version of the “what’s wrong with this picture” books, though each card illustrates only 1 scene with one silly thing going on. As with all the Super Duper apps, you can customize the card options for each client, or you can make all of the cards accessible to the client. Additionally, you can mark each turn as correct or incorrect, and the app keeps track of this data as you play.

So, how can you incorporate Listening for Absurdities into your next session? Well, here are a couple ideas to start you off 🙂

  • Capitalize on the voice option of this app: Like some of the other Super Duper apps, Listening for Absurdities includes a voiced component. As you scroll from flashcard to flashcard, you must click on the card to activate the voice, which gives you a short sentence about what’s happening in the scene (e.g. “Uncle Luke poured his coffee into a boot”). This is a great added cue to help students who might otherwise have a tough time figuring out what’s goofy in the scene. Additionally, if you’re working on listening skills, you can turn the iPad away from the student and have them fix the sentence after hearing the verbal cue alone (without ever showing them the picture on each card).

  • Keep the voiced component of the app off: Some of the cards are more obviously absurd than others, so you can challenge clients by choosing the cards with more subtle absurdities and asking them to identify what doesn’t fit in the scene and explain how they might fix it. This is a great way to help kids learn to search for key details that might aid in comprehension.
  • Use each card as a story-starter: Not every kid is little Ms./Mr. motor mouth, just dying to give you a 300-word language sample in the first 18.4 seconds of your session. For the quieter clients on your caseload, use the cards in this fundeck as a good theme for a made-up story. They’ll like how silly they get to be, and you’ll be on cloud nine with all their language!
  • Challenge kids to problem solve: With each new card, don’t just have your client point out what’s silly in the scene, but also ask them what kinds of words you could substitute into the sentence to make it correct. Try to generate as many ideas to correct each card as possible! This is great for kids who struggle with semantic variation.

I hope I’ve left you with some good ideas that get you well on your way to absurd fun with your clients!