Apps, Language Therapy, Worth Every Penny

Get Ready for Some Language Adventuring!

It’s been a while since I last reviewed an app, so I think it’s high time for such a blog post (you have dysphagia and motor speech disorders exams to blame for that)!  Smarty Ears has a new(ish) app out called Language Adventures ($19.99 in the iTunes App Store).  I was fortunate enough to win a copy of it through a Facebook contest that TherapyApp 411 held a few weeks back, and I’m excited to share some of the great features this app has to offer!  Language Adventures is a language board game app that targets synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings in both receptive and expressive modalities!

First and foremost, a HUGE Thank you to Barbara Fernandes and the rest of the Smart Ears brainteam for adding video tutorials to all their apps!  I know, I know…all technology should just be “intuitive” these days right?  WRONG!  We all find ourselves caught in the trap of thinking we know exactly how an app is supposed to run, only to find out that we’ve been neglecting some of the coolestmost exciting features all along simply because we never took the time to learn how to access them.  Usually this happens as soon as we give the iPad to a client and give them the freedom to “figure the app out”…a million times better and faster than we did!  Smarty Ears makes it so easy to learn all the perks of their apps through clear, concise, and accessible tutorials!  (Woot Woot)

The Language Adventures game will support 1-4 students, so it’s a great option for individual therapy and group therapy alike!  Adding a new student/client is easy: just enter their name, DOB, grade level, target items (synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings), and target language mode (receptive or expressive).  You can even add a photo or avatar to represent each student (and who doesn’t love seeing themselves when an app is opened?!?!).  Yes…I did name my pretend student “Fro” (can you tell someone was craving fro-yo when she was testing out this app?).  The game can be played at 3 different levels, so never fear: this game will grow with your clients and be more than just a one-hit wonder!

The app itself is designed as a board game!  Brilliant!  For each turn, the client taps the dice to determine how many spaces they can move on the board.  In order to cause their piece to advance, they must click on the square that correctly corresponds with the number rolled on the dice (Hey-o…math too!).  Best part of rolling dice on an Ipad? They never fall off the table!!!!! As soon as the correct box is chosen and the piece moves forward, a language question will appear for the client.  If you chose to target all 3 language skills, they will appear in random order throughout the game; otherwise all the questions will relate to your designated skill determined for the kiddo.

If you are working on receptive language skills, 4 possible answer choices will appear for the child to choose from.  When working on expressive skills, the question is open-ended and the child must generate their own response that you can then mark as accurate or incorrect (Yup, this app collects your data for you too).

In the settings tab, you have the ability to turn audio-reading of questions on or off as well as to choose the consequence that occurs when an incorrect choice is made during receptive language questions.  Luckily for you, you’ll never need to worry about adjusting trivial things like the background music or minor features…in fact, the snappy music will keep you and your client(s) jammin’ through your whole session 🙂  All in all, I highly recommend this app for targeting the specific language skills it incorporates.  Your clients are sure to love the board game concept, and you’re bound to love all the great learning opportunities this app provides for language!

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!