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!

Advertisements
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!

Random Therapy Ideas

Getting the Most out of a Ball!

Here’s what you will need to create this fun, BRILLIANT therapy activity:

  • 1 ball (ideally one of the really light, semi-bouncy-ish balls that are always $1.99 at the store)
  • Sharpies

Yup, that’s it!  The beauty behind this idea is that you can tailor the ball to any kiddo’s (or adult’s) needs.  The original “question-ball” was intended as an icebreaker activity: someone writes all kinds of creative questions around the surface of the ball (with lines separating each one to make life a little easier).  Then, everyone stands in a circle and takes turns tossing the ball to someone else.  The tosser calls out a hand (left/right) and a finger (pinky/ring/you get the idea).  The catcher has to answer whatever question that finger is touching when they catch the ball.  Here’s how it will work for YOU in therapy:

  • Write target words/phrases/sentences for articulation accuracy all over the ball.  Drill just became fun!
  • Cover your ball with nouns/verbs/adjectives/any other part of speech.  Tell the child to make up a sentence with that word!
  • Write nouns or verbs all over the ball and have your child name semantically similar items for whatever word their finger is on!
  • Write questions on the ball and have your client appropriately answer the questions!
  • Write one/two/three+ step directions all over the ball and have the child perform whatever task is indicated!
  • Cover your ball with conversation topics and ask the child to tell a story about the topic they’re touching with the indicated finger!
  • Have the client name the opposite of whatever they’re touching on the ball!
  • Ask the child to come up with a word that rhymes with the word their finger landed on

As you can see, this activity can be tailored to just about any kiddo (especially if you work with kids in groups).  Depending on how you choose to play, you can simultaneously promote turn taking, eye contact, non-verbal communication & gestures (children can’t use any noise when deciding who to throw the ball to), group participation, hand-eye coordination, motor learning…the list goes on and on.  And all just by throwing a ball.  By using inexpensive balls from the store (even a beach ball will work just fine), you won’t break the bank either.

Any other ideas about what you might want to put on your therapy ball?  Let’s hear them!  Remember, great ideas are meant to be shared 🙂