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veggie garden

Planting Seeds of Language/ Social Skills with the Dr Panda Veggie Garden App

I work with so many kids who need to work on expanding their expressive language and social skills so I am always on the look-out for new activities for motivation. Lately I have been hooked on the Dr Panda Veggie Garden App. These are my top 5 favorite ways to use this app to expand language/social skills:

  1. For the kids who use primarily single words, this app is great for expanding to simple subject-verb or verb-object phrases (e.g., sun shine, mow grass)
  2. For the kids who need to work on articulation of a common word or phrase, I use this app for repetitive practice.  For example, I use this with kids who are working on /th/ sounds by having them use the carrier phrase, “I ___ this/these _____” (e.g., I rake these leaves, I water this tree)
  3. For kids who are working on adding descriptive terms, I use this app along with the Expanding Expression Tool to help them describe the various steps in the process (e.g. the little, green strawberries are turning red, ripe and juicy).
  4. For the kids who are working on stringing sequential sentences together, I take a screen shot of each step in the growing sequence while the kids are enjoying the app and then I visit the photos app on my iPad and have the kids describe each step along with each picture. The kids love to go back and forth between using the app to grow something and then telling the corresponding story with the pictures.
  5. This app is also great to use for encouraging social interactions. While playing the game, kids can work on taking turns, helping each other figure out what to do on each page, and talking to one another about the sequence of events. This app can also be a wonderful inspiration for some sequential dramatic play.  With spring soon upon us, the garden theme is particularly timely :)

Submitted by:  Karen S Head, MS, CCC-SLP

*Like this review and activities? Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities for children.

 

pet doctor

The iPad and Beyond – Pet Doctor Inspires Collaborative Play

The iPad and Beyond – Pet Doctor Inspires Collaborative Play

We love using apps in therapy and in our Social Adventure Groups but we are all too aware of how kids can get over-focused on them. We have taken to using some of them as inspiration for play. One of our favorites is Toca Boca Pet Doctor. This adorable app introduces kids to some unexpected pet problems, such as a beaver who needs his teeth brushed and a bird who is stuck in gum. Playing this game for a few minutes before we start dramatic play can really get the kids thinking.

Once the kids have some ideas about what could go awry with their pets, we give them some time to work together to pick equipment to represent a house, a pet doctor’s office and an ambulance. Then the fun begins! Kids never get tired of taking turns calling 911 about their pet problem, riding in the ambulance to the pet doctor of course using all of the fun doctor kit items to take good care of that pet.

Just a few minutes with this wonderful iPad app leads to many more minutes of creative, collaborative dramatic play!

crepes

Crepes by Suzette Interactive Book App

 

Title: Crepes by Suzette

Author: Monica Wellington (See another story by Monica reviewed on all4mychild here

Description:  Suzette, the main character of this story, is a Parisian crepe maker and street-cart Vendor, who travels throughout Paris selling her delicious dessert. This app has wonderful interactive components throughout the story that including a labeled map of Paris with Suzette’s travels, videos and photos of real life experiences in Paris complimenting the story, and highlighted vocabulary provided in various languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Japanese). The story can be read yourself or to you in these language as well.

Goals/ objectives:

  • Narrative language with a focus on “character” and “setting”
  • Pair with Curriculum Concepts of: cities and maps; Paris, France; art/artists/museums
  • Sequencing
  • Play

Why I like this story: This interactive story app is so engaging, with endless possibilities for children. The music and pictures are appealing as well, and make the entire story experience quite enjoyable.

Ideas for use:

  • Narrative Language goals: Suzette travels all around Paris: Parisian streets, street markets, Luxembourg Gardens, the Seine River, Notre-Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum, Tuileries Gardens, Place Vendome, Palais-Garnier (opera house), carousels, and the Eiffel Tower. Use these places to work on understanding of “setting” and setting descriptions. Pair with the Mindwing Concepts Program and/or iPad App setting description (see below). The story lends itself well to describe all the senses that could be experienced.
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    • Retell the story focusing on the sequence of events. Add in temporal markers: first, then, next, after that, etc. 
  • Curriculum Concepts: The various landmarks described above could be expanded on with the Google Earth app. This would provide an excellent context for more description and understanding of Paris and/or the “city” concept. See Sean Sweeney’s informative post on Google Earth here and here for more info on the advantages and uses of this app.
    • Use Google maps and “street view” as well. Can you use Google Maps to get from one of Suzette’s locations to the next? Can you compare the map provided in the app (see image below) to Google Maps directions?
    • Would be great to pair with concepts of Maps and directions (north, south, east, west left, right, map keys, streets, bridges, etc.)
    • You could create a map and story in another major city. Can they generate new characters, describe new settings, etc.
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  • Sequencing Goals: Use pictures of the various locations (screen shots or google images) and sequence the events of the story. Pair with story retelling.
    • Make Crepes! There is a recipe and video of crepes being made in action. Discuss the various steps and order while following the recipe. This can be “real” or through pretend play! They can use the video examples to make their own “how to make” crepes video (use iMovie or the video recoding app on the iPad/phone)
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  • Play Goals: Act out the story. Kids can be Suzette with their very own cart. They can use a cash register, cooking materials and “take orders” from their customers. More than 1 student, have them “be” the various customers that come to Suzette’s cart. Can they negotiate and plan out the play and the events? Pair with the Mindwing Concepts symbols to assist with the planning states and various “characters” and settings.” Can they generate their own ideas for a different day? A different city?
  • Submitted by Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP
  • A promotional code for this app was given to all4mychild, however, the review are my ideas alone.
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Top 10 Apps of 2014

To ring off the new year, I wanted to support a great website and vision of Mai Chan and her team at Yapp Guru (which includes the Aubrey Klingensmith of Speechie Apps and Tanya Coyle of the Lexical Linguist, both smart and passionate women). If you haven’t checked out Yapp Guru, I encourage you to. It’s the “amazon” of apps for therapists. Apps are reviewed by experts, categorized, and voted on by not only by experts in the field, but by treating therapists, educators and parents. It’s a great place to learn about new tools to support your clients.  Yapp Guru is hosting a “linky party” with other expert app reviewers and bloggers to share great apps to use therapeutically. Here is my version of the 10 Best  Apps that have helped me and the people I work with this past year.

 

  1. Evernote: I’m like a broken record with this one…but seriously… it has changed my life. I use it to help organize my caseload within my private practice, share resources with others, take notes at conferences, even provide feedback for the graduate students I supervise. It’s amazing. See my review of it here.
  2. Heads Up: Great for adults and kids alike to work on prioritizing information, description, or even social engagement and interaction (for you in your personal life OR for your clients). See my review here.
  3. Between the Lines: A great app for social pragmatics from the brilliant team at Hamaguchi apps. Great for addressing  nonverbal communication including body language, tone of voice, figurative language, etc.
  4. Super Stretch Yoga: perfect for helping children who struggle with regulation. An adorable free app that provides video modeling of basic yoga poses. Ready my review here.
  5. Auditory Memory: a new app to me this year from Super Duper, but great for working on language processing and teaching compensatory strategies. It does require some set up on a computer including a login and password to save student profiles…however, once you get set up it’s a great tool to work on following directions in a hierarchical manner .
  6. Skitch: a great app to “spice” up worksheets and/or make your own visuals to support your therapy. It allows you to “write on” documents or images. A must have for educators. See SpeechTechie.com for great ideas for using Skitch.
  7. Articulation Station: I’ll be the first to say that articulation isn’t my favorite treatment area…however, this app makes me find some fun:) A go-to as a pediatric therapist, and one that all of my kids love. It allows me to share progress easily with parents as well.
  8. Motessori Crossword: This year I have had a lot of kiddos who need phonological awareness support. This app (in combination with the use of the Lively Letters Program that I love) has been a great tool. The movable sound alphabet and the interactive “reward” activities are awesome.
  9. Brain Pop and Brain Pop Junior : continue to be on my list of favorites this year. A great way to introduce curriculum concepts, work on vocabulary, auditory comprehension, etc.
  10. Marble Mixer: I think Jenna Rayburn at Speech Room News shared this one on one of her posts ages ago…and it continues to be a favorite of mine. I love apps that allow kids to share the iPad and use it collaboratively. This competative game helps teach kids a number of social skills from sharing space, to winning and losing. Kids love it.

Look forward to learning of others favorites of 2014.

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The Joy of Story Telling

Story telling is fundamental to human interaction.  It is the way that we share experiences, relate to one another and empathize with others.  Story telling is the way we keep family memories alive, study history and understand our place in the world.  Story telling starts very young.  Children as young as 2-3 years begin to share experiences by stringing sentences together (called Heaps by Hedberg and Westby (1993)) and very soon thereafter (age 5) begin to tell well organized cohesive stories with a central character and sequenced events.  But, like so many other communication skills that come easily and naturally to many, narrative skills don’t come easily to all.  Children may struggle with the linguistic components of a narrative, they may struggle with word retrieval and formulation or they may struggle with taking the perspective of the listener.  For these kids, the joy of a story well told is often unattainable.  But there is help available.

The Story Grammar Marker 

MaryEllen Rooney Moreau, founder of  Mindwing Concepts , developed the Story Grammar Marker© more than 20 years ago to support children’s narrative development.   According to their website, “ MindWing’s methodology stems from research on oral language development, narrative structure and narrative development by Applebee (1978), Stein and Glenn (1979), Roth and Spekman (1986), Merritt and Liles (1987) and Westby (1991). Our research-based methodology and multi-sensory tools provide an explicit, systematic approach to instruction and intervention on narrative (story) development and expository (content area) text. Our methodology is designed to be implemented across the curriculum and throughout all grade levels targeting the development of oral language skills necessary for comprehension, writing, critical thinking and social-emotional growth.”  And now… the Story Grammar Marker is available as an app for the iPad!

And Now it’s Digital

Together with all4mychild, the Story Grammar Marker app was developed to provide teachers, therapists and parents another way to expose kids to this amazing tool.  This versatile app can be used to teach the individual components of a narrative or can provide a story scaffold appropriate to the child’s developmental level.

 

Text and images are easily imported onto a virtual Braidy (the Story Grammar Marker’s nickname) building a visual support …

Once the Braidy is complete, the child can record the story and have it played back as though he is a newscaster on WSGM…

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For Younger Kids

All4mychild has also developed the Talking Train app to provide support for our youngest story-tellers.  This engaging app uses the framework of a train to provide support for a main idea or story topic (the train engine) and 3 or more details (the train cars)..

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Once the child has recorded the story, it can be played for instant feedback or emailed along.   The email includes the Talking Train image as well as the child’s recording.  But the best part of all is that when the child hits the “GO!” button the train chugs down the track, disappears for a moment, and then comes right back and this is all accompanied by delightful train sound.

So whatever the age of your little story-teller, these two apps will provide the just-right support.

photo by Alexander Lyubavin

PA

Profile of Phonological Awareness

 

The ProPA app is a must have for a speech language pathologist, or any educator who is working with preschool to early elementary students. Created by the brilliant Tanya Coyle (known at @SLPTanya on Twitter), it is filled with valuable information, and is easy to administer. As stated within the app itself, it was created “for the purpose of evaluating and describing the phonological awareness skills of children.” It assesses the following skills:

•Rhyming
•Blending
•Isolating
•Segmenting
•Deleting
•Substituting

The educator reads the stimuli, and the student responds. You then press the appropriate button (i.e. not administered, correct, missed). The app provides an “info” button at the top of each page which provides the administration guidelines and exactly what to say.

 

She has really thought of everything. There is a place to write notes on test behavior or patterns you’re noticing (i.e. difficulty changing set, needs frequent breaks, etc.). Information is saved. If you run out of time, you can always complete the test later, you can even “skip” sections of testing if it isn’t appropriate for your student. Once your testing is complete, you have the options of opening the results in PDF form within a program on your iPad (i.e. Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive etc.) or Sharing it (i.e. emailing or printing). I’m really impressed with the results page itself. It looks extremely professional with all necessary diagnostic information included, description of the test, and interpretation of results. This is fantastic to share with families, and makes assessment a breeze. The Manual within the app provides age approximations for skills as well.

 

If there is any user confusion with this app, Tanya has provided video tutorials, a very thorough manual, and easy access to Smarty Ears (the developer) via email.

Why I love this app:

  • It can be administered in about 20 minutes or so. This is ideal for us treating therapists with many kiddos on our caseloads. It will be a great tool to re-administer to track progress as well.
  • You’re able to “skip” portions if necessary if the child doesn’t understand or if the skill isn’t appropriate for your student
  • The results are organized in a visually appealing way, and explained thoroughly. Easy to share.
  •  Can be used in a group or individually

Assessment has never been so easy. I look forward to more assessment tools being created for the iPad. Thanks Tanya and Smarty Ears for a great tool.

You can find their description of the app here.

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

*It is noted that this clinician received a promotion code for this app. However, opinions are entirely my own.

 

 

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Ellen DeGeneres’ App is Great for Social Skills and Language

Ellen Degeneres makes me happy. I’m pretty sure she makes everyone happy. Usually she entertains me at night after work when I watch her show that I DVR. But lately, I’ve been getting to enjoy her during the work day. She created an app called Heads Up that is a speech pathologist’s dream. It’s a lot like the popular traditional speech and language game Headbanz…but it’s on the iPhone/iPad which gives it lots of awesome features. Basically you place the phone, screen facing out, on your forehead. Whoever you are playing with then must describe the given word that is on the screen. If you guess correctly you quickly move the phone forward and back up to your head and a new word appears. If you need to pass because you don’t have a good guess, you move the phone backwards over your head. This is a great feature for many of my students.

There are various categories you can choose from for description, from animals to food. There is a new “kids” deck as well which is obviously filled with kid friendly words (including characters like Runaway Ralph and Zac Efron). The best part about the game is the video recording feature. While you are describing a word…the phone/ipad is recording you. You can watch the video after which is great for a good laugh, as well as an opportunity for some discussion around the child’s performance. (Ellen, can you provide a “pause” button for the video? That would be great for us therapists to breakdown the performance for some teachable moments!). 

I’ve used it with a number of kids for lots of different goals and objectives.

Here are some ideas:

Use in a social group.

  • Great for working together as a team. How many words can you describe and get your team to guess together?
  • It’s a game you CAN’T play alone (like our Bag Game App). Get kids interacting and laughing.
  • Great for body language. Make it more challenging by requiring no words – just body language to describe. This is awesome to watch back and point out on the recorded video. Can kids change their bodies if their friends aren’t getting it? Can they problem solve and think flexibly?
  • Great opportunity for perspective taking from positioning the iPhone/iPad so others can read it, to thinking about saliency (what’s the most important thing) for others to know about something to help them guess
  • Have kids watch the video and give feedback to their friends. Can they give a compliment for what was helpful and/or creative that helped them guess it correctly? What could they have done differently? Can they provide this feedback with appropriate tone of voice and word choices?

Use for individual therapy.

  • Use for description. Pair with the  EET and encourage thorough description. Discuss the importance of starting with the most important/salient information. Especially since this is a timed game
  • Use for generalization of speech production work. Can students use their targeted speech sounds under pressure? At the sentence and discourse levels?
  • Use as a “reward” for completing challenging work within a session. A great language based game to play for fun!

Thanks Ellen for finding another way to make us all happy, even while at work:) 

By Meghan G Graham, MS, CCC-SLP

social quest app

Social Quest App for Problem Solving

 

 

I’m always looking for activities to work with my late elementary and middle schooler students on critical thinking/problem-solving and perspective taking skills. It always seems challenging to find the right material to address these concepts in a one-to-one therapy setting. Recently, I’ve been using the Social Quest App from Smarty Ears to do so. It offers a great starting-off point for discussion around a variety of social concepts. The concepts are broken down into various contexts such as community, home, and school. The student or therapist selects a context, and the student is “transported” there, and then provided with social situations to problem solve. The app is set up in a game like format, set in the Renaissance era (which students really love), and provides rewards along the way as the student progresses through the questions. You can use in a group setting or individually, and it saves your data which can also be emailed/shared with parents. I’ve been pairing this app with other therapy strategies including Social Thinking’s © Social Behavior Maps,  a variation of Comic Strip Conversations ©, and even basic role play to assist students with problem solving the various social situations. Self made thinking and speaking bubbles have also been helpful to assist students with problem solving various situations when they are “stuck.” The settings allow various ways to adjust difficulty level. I’ve even been using a “low tech” means of covering up answer choices on the screen with good old paper, and having the student generate their own outcomes. They then can look at the provided choices, and make their decisions as to the “best” answer.  This app has been a great tool in recent therapy sessions, and led to important social discussions. For a more thorough review on the ins and outs of this app see Constantly Speaking who recently did a great post.

Submitted by Meghan Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

*all4mychild was provided with a promotion code for the Social Quest App, however the post is reflective only of Meghan’s personal opinion.

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Send Thank You Notes with the Talking Train app

 

Another use of our Talking Train app is for parents and therapists alike. Parents can have their children “write” the dreaded thank you notes from the holidays, using the app. Take/import pictures of the gift, your child playing with it, etc. and some brief words or drawings thanking them for the gift.

 

You can even record the child’s voice thanking the gift-giver. Then email the note and voila, you’re done!

 

As a therapist, you can use this activity as a pragmatic/perspective taking activity. Why do we write thank you notes? How will it make the gift-giver feel when they see you enjoying the gift? What would be appropriate words to thank someone for a gift? You get the idea. Would be great to pair with thinking/speaking bubbles to aid in understanding if necessary. Download the app now from the Talking Train - all4mychild and get started sending those notes :)

NOTE: If the gift-giver doesn’t have an iOS device, you can use  Switch to convert the .caf file to an mp3.  That way it can be heard on any device.

Submitted by Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP

For more ideas on how to use the Talking Train app, check out these reviews from SpeechieApps and SpeechTimeFun

Try this converter, Switch