Friday, November 25, 2011

Easy Concepts

I have always preferred the cute, contextual look of the CELF Preschool 2's Concepts and Following Directions to its dreadful, symbolic and endless older brother CELF-4's version (do we really need umpteen items and such a high ceiling?) when it comes to evaluating auditory comprehension of directives and basic concepts. Partially inspired by the attractive animal scenes in that subtest, Easy Speak Enterprises' Easy Concepts app ($4.99, universal for iPhone and iPad) develops the skills of following conceptual and multistep directions in an engaging format.

We often inherit (or create ourselves) IEPs that have the important but difficult-to-address objective that is often worded something like this:

Student will follow directions of increasing length and complexity that contain spatial and temporal concepts, using strategies such as...

UGH. Again, a really important objective, but students don't like to come "to speech" and just be ordered around, no matter what cutesy materials we use as a context! Often we need a hook, and Easy Concepts provides that by using bright, colorful, interactive animal pictures as the context to engage students so that they can develop the necessary conceptual foundations and strategies. Easy Concepts allows you to select from three activities- Animal Sizes, Underwater Sequencing and Before and After Farm, two of which have sub-levels allowing you to grade the level of difficulty. From the iTunes store description:





  • Animal Sizes takes children on an adventure through the jungle, the rainforest, underwater and on the farm while targeting size concepts and comparisons (biggest and smallest). 
  • Underwater sequencing allows children to discover an underwater world while following sequential directions of increasing complexity. This game has two levels; level 1 targets basic two-step sequential directions (first, next), while level 2 targets basic three-step directions (first, next last). The game also becomes more complex as more underwater creatures are introduced to the scene as distractors. 
  • Before & After Farm takes a trip down to the farmyard to target following basic 2-step temporal directions (before and after).

  • A scene from Before and After Farm
    Along the way, students use a simple tap response to follow the direction and receive gentle correction (uh, oh!) or verbal reinforcement. Clinicians can use strategies along the way such as encouraging the child to repeat the directions to themselves, or tap the repeat button to hear it again. A guide page within the app offers suggestions that would be helpful especially to parents who buy the app to provide practice outside therapy sessions. As this is a contextual activity, the app also provides an opportunity to work on descriptive skills and categories. Overall, Easy Concepts is an engaging app that is specifically geared toward a key educational and language-based objective, and is well-priced, especially considering the cost of books and other materials SLPs would use to address this objective.

    Sean J. Sweeney CCC-SLP

    note: author was provided with a promotional version of this app to facilitate this review.

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