Apps, Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas

WH-ing It Up!

Who have you been targeting WH-questions with lately? Where did you search for activities to target awareness of these concepts? When was the last time you had a peds client super jazzed about regurgitating answers to these questions from the same old story books? Enter “WH” Questions At Home by Super Duper ($5.99).  This app provides you with 56 cards that do all the WH-question work for you!  As with other flashcard sets from Super Duper, you are able to take data on the client’s responses as you move through the deck.  Additionally, you can choose which cards you want to include for a given client and which you want to keep out (so you are able to target “who” and “where” questions, but save the rest for later!).

What Super Duper cards tend to do really well is leave the proposed questions open-ended enough to allow the client the possibility of generating multi-word answers (rather than your typical “the boy” response to a “who” question).  Imagine the amount of language you can generate with a question like: “What would you do if you had a tree house?” as opposed to “what is X character doing on this page of the book?”  The questions tend to be very client-focused, which can be hugely important for kiddos who aren’t able to appropriately decode decontextualized concepts.

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Another great feature of this app is the functionality of many of the questions.  Kids will not only be generating language targets, but can be discussing topics that are relavent to their lives.  I see this being a huge bonus in group therapy settings!  For example, the card below is highly contextualized and is a great “mind file”/ “get to know you” type of question for group settings.  While you can certainly target the “who” aspect of this question, you can also use it to get kids thinking about similarities and differences among them (“Wow, both Jimmy and Johnny have their grandparents living at home with them.  Mary, it sounds like you have lots of animals living at your home.  I wonder if Jimmy has pets too…”)  Plus, kids LOVE sharing about their lives!

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It often comes up that SLPs are targeting more than one skill or concept at a time.  Many of the cards provided in this app give kids an opportunity to think about socially expected behavior, such as the one below.  This is fantastic for generalization activities with clients who have previously been targeting these ideas in a more specific way.  Although they might be focusing on the WH-aspect of the question, you can be assessing the social-appropriateness of their response(s).

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My final suggestion for this app is more on the creative side.  Although I love that apps are created with an intended purpose in mind, I always challenge myself to find ways to make the app work for a big variety of clients working on a big variety of goals.  If you have a kiddo who is not particularly verbal and enjoys drawing (or you just want to shake things up a bit for any old client), here is a fun way to generate responses to these WH-questions!  Rather than require a verbal response from the kiddo when a card is presented on the iPad, instead have them draw their response.  You can even turn this into a fun guessing game that might generate new forms of language you otherwise would not have elicited!  So, try presenting your client with a card like, “Where do you keep your toys?”  Then, set a timer for 1 minute and see how many places they draw that are appropriate places to keep toys!  Draw a new card and repeat!

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That’s all for now folks!

Apps, Language Therapy, Worth Every Penny

Flashcards for Your iPad

Flashcards are great therapy resources.  They are tried and true, and serve as a great go-to set of stimuli during many of the activities SLPs do on a daily bases.  There are a lot of benefits to having a physical set of cards in front of you.  BAM: basic flashcards can become a memory or matching game.  BAM: stack flashcards around the room to make a car obstacle course (https://hbslp.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/making-drill-activities-fun-for-little-boys/).  BAM, hide flashcards to create a scavenger hunt for therapy targets!  Despite all these great uses for stimulus cards, there are just those moments where you want the content from the card without the ability for your client to pick it up and toss it across the room (or flip it over, or rip it, or spill on it).  Unless you’re a laminating maniac and an organization genius, cards often get lost or ruined after a finite amount of time. They can become cumbersome to lug around for SLPs on the go, and keeping them organized can be a nightmare.  Solution? Flashcard apps.  Super Duper is a GREAT resource for a big selection of flashcard decks that have been converted for the iPad!  The concept is by no means revolutionary, but for short money (apps run $5.99 each) you get all the benefits of the cards’ content without the downsides of dealing with individual cards.  Here are 2 Super Duper apps that I’ve been exploring and would love to share:

WHAT ARE THEY ASKING?

The deck includes a wide variety of picture scenes where one character has a “?” thought bubble coming from his/her/its mouth, encouraging the question, “what are they asking?” Before you begin an activity with this app, you have the option to choose your client(s) and customize the card options for them by selecting the specific cards you want (or you can always select all cards).  Here are some great ways to use this app:

  • Its intended function: asking your client to think about what the character is likely asking.  This requires your kiddo to look for contextual clues in the scene to support their theory.  If you are hoping to generate further language beyond a simple answer to what the character is thinking, ask your client to explain the contextual clues they used to come up with their answer.
  • pronoun practice: what is heshe, it thinking?
  • Inference practice: ask your client questions like: “What do you think happened right before this?” “How does the other character(s) feel about what’s happening?” “How could you solve this problem?”
  • Engage your client in WH-question practice by tailoring your questions about each card” “WHO is having this thought?” “WHEN did X character do X action?” “WHERE has the girl traveled (hint: look at her suitcase)?”

You are given the option to mark each card as correct or incorrect if you come up with a personalized data system, but you can certainly leave the activity open as a means of generating great language in addition to thinking about what different characters might be saying in each scene!

UNDERSTANDING INFERENCES

Since inferences are a broad area of language, this app has lots of possible functions!  Again, you have the power to choose specific cards to include for each client, or to use the whole deck.  You can mark each card as correct or incorrect if you want to tap into the data function of the app!  Here are some ways to get rolling with Understanding Inferences:

  • If your client is just starting to work with inferences, one-word responses might be a great target with this deck!  For these kiddos, elaboration might be too tough, but the ability to provide a relevant answer to the posed question will demonstrate that they’re getting the idea of an inference!
  • Use the cards (and their questions) as a story generator.  Ask your client to not only provide an appropriate response, but to also create a story about what happens next.
  • Use the cards to model a descriptive guessing activity and then have the client try it on his/her own!  Practice with a card like the one below (giving clues to help describe a target object based on its appearance, function, etc), and then see if your client can give you enough clues to guess what he/she is thinking of 🙂
  • Be silly; instead of thinking of things that DO belong (for cards like the one below), try to think of things that DON’T belong.  Understanding how objects DON’T fit into certain semantic categories can be just as important as determining how and why they do! 

There you have it!  A few fun ways to get your started using a couple of Super Duper’s flashcard apps!  The magic is in how you make these apps work for you, especially since there are so many possibilities beyond their basic, intended functions 🙂

Worth Every Penny

Unrolling a Good Time

Do you want to shake your session up a bit…literally?  Then invest in your very own Rory’s Story Cubes Game.  This glorious little box contains 9 dice that will get your kiddo’s imagination AND language production rolling.  Here’s the premise:

  1. Roll any/all of the 9 dice
  2. make up a sentence/story with the images that appear on those dice

Yup, it’s that simple!  But wait, there’s so much more you can do with this game.  If story generation and spontaneous language aren’t your primary goals, here are some other ideas to use with your Rory’s Story Cubes Dice:

  • For the WH-questions kiddo: take turns rolling 1 die (I know, it’s a weird singular form of dice…I double-checked with google).  The non-roller must use WH-questions to guess what image the other person rolled.
  • For the articulation kiddo: Be creative in how you “name” the images for their word/sentence/story.  The “bee” can be an “insect” if you’re targeting word-medial /s/ (like me).  Or the “light bulb” can actually be “dark” for those postvocalic /r/ sounds.
  • For the kiddo working on opposites: simple…roll a die and try to name the opposite (or something that’s different vs same) from the image that lands up.
  • For the semantic deficits kiddo: roll a couple dice and try to find a way to semantically link the images together (do they all fit into some kind of basic category?  How are they related or unrelated?).  OR, roll one die and try to name other things that might belong in the same category as that image.
  • For the sequencing kiddo: connect your images into a story with clear, concrete temporal connector words.
  • For the kiddo with disordered (or just plain messy) narration: this can be a great game for focusing on strategies to work lots of novel elements into a cohesive story.  Ask you kiddo to create an introduction of character(s), setting, etc., then to generate a clear story with a climax, and finally to conclude their story.  Use the images on the dice to guide the story!
  • for the pragmatics kiddo: work on turn-taking by creating a story together where you each get to add one die image at a time and must build off of what the last person said.; Create a fun sentence with some of the dice images and ask the kiddo to determine whether you’re producing it in a declarative vs interrogative vs exclamatory way based solely on your intonation (suprasegmentals baby!).  Then have them say the sentence with a target intonation.
  • For the prosody kiddo: make up a crazy sentence with some of the dice images, and then ask your kiddo to identify what kind of emotional tone you’re using to produce that sentence: happy, angry, confused, surprised, sad.  Then ask them to produce the same sentence with a target emotional tone.


As you can see, there are a plethora of ways you can apply this great game to your variety of kiddos!  So take the plunge on amazon.com and get your own set of Rory’s Story Cube dice.  There’s also a set with action images, so the possibilities are even more endless than before!