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Talking Train App – Not just for SLP’s

We are so excited that our Talking Train is now available on Talking Train - all4mychild. We have previously blogged about using this adorable little train to help kids keep their stories “Short and Exciting”, but there are so many more ways to use this app.

As an OT working closely with my SLP colleagues, I find frequently myself thinking a little like an SLP.  However, every once in a while, I try to analyze activities exclusively from an OT perspective.  We have been using the Talking Train app in our groups for the past few weeks while we waited for approval from iTunes.  Like many tools we all use in therapy, there are a variety of ways to apply this app.  The Talking Train does have animation, train sounds, and recording feature.  But the aspect I have been most pleased about as an OT is the freedom kids experience when they create their own drawings on the train cars.  Kids who have been reticent to draw, who are self-critical, and who can barely hold a crayon have been more than willing to draw on the train cars.

This is what I observed.  The 5 and 6 year olds in our groups were thrilled to tell their stories using the Talking Train app.  The focus was on the story and the train; NOT on the drawing.  They quickly recognized the benefit of creating an iconic drawing to represent the thoughts they wanted to share.  They didn’t seem to feel pressure to make a “perfect” drawing or even one that was recognizable to others.  They realized that the purpose of their representational drawing was to help them communicate.  Isn’t that what we look for in all the writing work we do as OTs?  We want kids to be able to express themselves in print.  We want them to develop the ability to coordinate and integrate their visual perceptual and motor abilities (visual motor integration).  We want them to be able to create images in their heads and translate them in word or picture in order to apply meaning to their worlds in an organized manner (visual discrimination, spatial organization).   We want them to understand their world in a left to right progression.

The Talking Train app has been surprisingly effective in tearing down the anxiety and insecurity that many of my kids feel when faced with drawing tasks.  Its reward is greater than the struggle and I’m pleased to watch my kids happily head down this track (pun intended 😀 ).  OT’s please let us know how you use the Talking Train.  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

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Pirates Motivate Kids Reticent to Draw

Kidoodle: Pirate Scribblebeard’s Treasure with Oscar & Josephine
THIS is the best app ever! OK…maybe not the best for everything but it tackles issues that I have found difficult to address in my OT sessions over the years. One of my kids, Harry, refuses to draw anything but stick figures and lines that look like he’s blowing things up. Walt hates drawing because his visualization skills are poor and he can’t imagine or “see” anything unless it’s tangible and in front of his face. Mary has no interest in drawing because she can’t make the product look anything like what she sees in her head. All of these children have difficulty with symbolic play, social communication, and flexibility.
Along comes Pirates Oscar & Josephine who invite you to help them build a story by finishing the drawing of two pirates whose shoes, belts, and hats have already been drawn. In the next screen, you are asked to complete the drawing of the pirate ship, then food, flag, etc. Each screen provides a line or two of text with a child’s voice describing the task, along with the beginning of a drawing. Every time I use this app with children, their ability, comfort with, and interest in drawing noticeably increases. They show flexible thinking as they change the story each time or use it with another child, taking turns on alternating screens. The app is so much fun with some “Arghhs”, a few cannon balls, and some deep sea creatures thrown in. Oh, and the best part…every time a page is turned, movement is imposed on the drawing so kids actually see their drawings animated! I have been amazed that so many kids who have an aversion to drawing will use and thoroughly enjoy this activity. Hm…maybe it IS the best app ever!

by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild