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!

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

App Synthesis: Custom Boards-Premium and ABA Flash Card Decks

Do you own the Smarty Ears app, Custom Boards-Premium?  Hmmm?  Do you?  Well, I made the leap and bought this app while it was on sale for Better Speech and Hearing Month (normally $39.99) and I am officially IN LOVE with it!  Although I did appreciate the grad-student friendly sale price, this app is worth it’s weight in gold (or dollars…if you want to be that way) at the regular price.

Now, I could go on and on about the over-11,000 smarty symbols you get when you purchase this app (ummmm, a pseudo Boardmaker for your iPad anyone?).  I could also spout off facts about their 100+ templates into which you can input pictures and text.  But, I think I’ll take this post in a different direction and tell you about how I’m loving using this app with my fellow classmates!

I am a big fan of combining great ideas.  You know that killer food that’s always left over from Thanksgiving?  Rolls + turkey + cranberry sauce = BEST sandwich of your life.  Iced tea + lemonade = summer staple (thanks Mr. Palmer).  Glitter + …….ok, you’re right…glitter is just the devil, no matter what you combine it with!  Anyway, my point is that Custom Boards can be a great tool on its own, but you can make it a super-stellar-Avengers-style tool if you are savvy about combining it with other apps.  The groom to my Custom Board bride is the collection of free ABA flash card decks I have downloaded (from Kindergarten.com).  If you don’t own these apps, go download them immediately.  I mean it…right now!  I’ll wait…

Ok, now that you have the free ABA cards AND Custom Boards, you’re as set as you’ll ever need to be!  Here’s the plan:

1. Take screen shots of the flash cards you want to include in your Custom Boards project:

2. Open Custom Boards and choose a template:

3. Click on the first white box and select the iPad Images button.  This will pull up your photo library (and your ABA flash card screen shots should be there).  Select the first picture.  Once it’s selected, you can size it (by pinching your fingers in or out) to fill the screen with exactly what you want.  Remember that you can add your own text into each box on the template, or leave them blank.

4. Repeat with the other picture(s) to complete your template!

COOL!!!!!  Right?  Of course it is!  Apps can be fantastic on their own, but the possibilities are endless when we think about synthesizing their contributions to our field!  I would love to hear how you are combining your iPad apps to create great new projects and therapy tools!  Below are a couple more examples of boards I’ve made using the ABA flash cards 🙂

Post-vocalic /r/ animal Articulation Therapy board:

Emotions Board:

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!

 

Articulation Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas

ArticPong

OK, so for all of you out there who are thinking to yourselves…”this looks an awful lot like that game I used to play in college, except we weren’t filling the cups with target articulation words…” YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.  The inspiration for this activity did, in fact, come from my undergrad college days, but I can assure you that it’s a killer activity for your artic clients to get their repetitions for lots of great sound practice.

The game is easy.  Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • big plastic cups (red or blue, although the red ones were just a bit…too…college party for me)
  • a pingpong ball (or a giant pom pom; basically just something that can be thrown, but isn’t heavy enough to knock the cups over)
  • target words/syllables/etc. to place inside each cup

Set your cups up in whatever configuration you’d like (you can mix it up each time so the game stays interesting and challenging for your kiddo).  I chose to do a classic beer artic-pong pyramid configuration.  Then, stick a target word (or two or three) in the bottom of each cup.  I made a few cups “special” by putting M&Ms in them too, so he would get a fun little surprise once in a while.

Have your kiddo throw the pingpong ball from behind a set line, and have him/her say whatever word(s) are in the cup that the ball lands in!  The game will get harder as more and more cups are taken away.  SO, your client will love being challenged and you’ll love all the practice they’re getting in!

That’s the whole shabang!

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!

Articulation Therapy

Making Drill Activities Fun

I know you’ve been there…agonizing about how you’re going to actually convince your kiddo that making 100 productions of speech sounds/pronouns/blends/syntactic structures/etc.  in a single therapy session is the most fun they’ll ever have in their life.  I bet you’ve come up with a plethora of ideas to make drill activities fun and exciting (we are brilliant SLPs after all), but here’s one more to add to your arsenal of ideas:

Let’s set the scene: You have your 5 year old boy coming in for his session in 5 minutes.  As you pull some toys down from the materials shelf, you frantically remember how disastrous last session was when he turned all his attention from the target words to the hotwheels cars he loves so much.  You want to incorporate cars into the session (speech therapy should be fun after all), but you also need him to work.  My super-creative classmate had a great idea for her little guy:

She made little stop signs (easy! Popsicle stick + red paper with STOP + tape) and placed them on top of small stacks of his target word cards (4 cards per stack).  She put the stacks and stop signs all around the floor of the room, and even interspersed some cute little road-blocks around the carpet.  Her client got to choose his car and drive it around the road-blocks to each stop sign.  When the car reached the stop sign, he had to say the target words on the cards under the sign.  The beauty of this simple set-up?  The client was thrilled with the “game,” and the clinician was thrilled with all the productions she got out of him.  Keeping the piles to 4-5 cards each kept his attention from wandering, and making lots of stop sign piles kept him from getting too engrossed with the car.

My question for you: What are your tricks for making drill activities fun for your kiddos?

A Good Laugh

All Kids Should be able to Express Themselves…Like This One!!!!!!

Can you even remember the first time you rode a bike?  I bet this guy will forever.  I’m sure most of you have seen this, but just in case…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaIvk1cSyG8

“I feel, I feel, I feel happy of myself!”  Let’s be honest, I love this kid and I love to laugh.  Perfect combo!