Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Story Builder

App Name/Publisher: Story Builder/Mobile Education Store

Description: Story Builder is an app for developing oral narrative skills. It can be adjusted for three levels of play to make it accessible for a variety of ages. It provides 50 different pictures and walks a student through creating an oral narrative by asking WH questions and giving sentence starters for the easier levels. The student then records his/her response and either listens back to the response or moves on to the next logical question. At the end the student has composed a complete oral narrative that can be listened to as well as shared via email.

Therapy Use:  This is a great app that promotes increasing expressive language, responding to WH questions, inferencing and paragraph writing. It includes a voice recording and playback feature which is wonderful when working with articulation, fluency or general speech intelligibility.

App Benefits/Likes: It can be used with a variety of ages and for a variety of different goals with speech and language.

Cautions: The level three is very open-ended - it just has the student tell about what is happening in the picture. I prefer level 1 or 2 because it requires the student to respond to WH questions and piece together a narrative in a logical sequence.

Skill(s) Targeted:
Articulation & Phonology
Expressive & Receptive Language

Age/Grade Levels Targeted 
Early Elementary (Grades 1 – 3)
Upper Elementary (Grades 3- 6)
Middle School/Junior High (Grades 7-9)

How to Activate 
Isolated finger point

Type of Device: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Cost $3.99

Would you recommend this app? Yes

Reviewed by Cassie Soofi, M.S.CCC-SLP
Review Date 11/26/2011 

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.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011


    App Name/Publisher: PrepositionBuilder by Mobile Education Store           

    PrepositionBuilder is another fantastic app created by Mobile Education Store.  The design of the app is intended to promote the understanding and use of prepositions.

    The app has 8 sets/groups of 3 prepositions and 1 set of 4 prepositions.  

    The app organizes the prepositions into the following sets/modules:
    • in, on, under  
    • down, up, off  
    • above, below, at, by  
    • behind, between, beside  
    • out of, next to, away from 
    • toward, around, through 
    • to, from, at 
    • across, past, over 
    • with, about, for

    There are 21 exemplars per preposition set/module. 

    Each student can be entered individually under his/her own profile.  One or more preposition sets can be selected to target during a session.  Once the activity starts, the student is presented with an image and a written sentence with a blank.  A choice of three prepositions are presented below the picture.  The student is required to select the appropriate preposition that completes the sentence about the picture.  There is an option to record the completed correct sentence.  If the incorrect preposition is selected, the picture will change to an image that depicts the preposition that was chosen.  Data is collected/recorded related to the number of attempts to select the correct response.

    Upon the completion of each preposition set, a video scene is unlocked.  Once all levels are completed, you can watch an entire story created by each unlocked video scene.  This feature adds an additional layer of motivation for students.

    See a video demonstration of the app here:

    Therapy Use:
    This app is excellent for working on the comprehension and use of prepositions.  It is important, particularly for preschoolers/younger students that the S-LP provide some support (i.e., the therapist should read the sentence and word choices or provide auditory models for the child/student to complete).  The activity can be extended by using objects or barrier games to work on each preposition set.

    For students working on goals in combination with those for language, the app could also be used to target/facilitate articulation carryover/generalization.  Generalization of fluency targets could be promoted during the use this app as well.

    App Benefits/Likes:
    • Engaging and motivating
    • Colorful and appealing graphics
    • Visuals (i.e., pictures) for incorrect responses are provided/shown
    • Unlocking of individual scenes upon the completion of each preposition set provides an excellent source of reinforcement for students

    Data collection that is more specific (i.e., provides information about what prepositions were most often incorrect) would be helpful.

    Auditory cues for the initial presentation of the sentence for each exemplar are not provided. This would be helpful, particularly for those students who cannot read.  

    App Summary

    Skill(s) Targeted
    Expressive & Receptive Language

    Age/Grade Levels Targeted
    Early Elementary (Grades 1 – 3)

    How to Activate
    Isolated finger point
    Hold and drag

    Type of Device
    iPad only


    Would you recommend this app?


    Reviewed by
    Renena Joy, M.Sc., S-LP(C)

    Review Date
    October 25, 2011

    Monday, November 7, 2011


    This review originally appeared on Growing Kids Therapy, and was re-posted with permission of its author, Elizabeth Vosseller.

    I have recently stumbled upon a nifty little app (actually, my 22 year old son had it on his iPhone!) which is sure to be a hit with kids young and old! Swackett is a unique weather app, available for your Mac and all your nifty handheld devices, that provides a visual weather report featuring an array of figures they call “Peeps” (male, female, dog and kitty icons) dressed for the weather! So, your “Peep” might be dressed in shorts and a tank top carrying a water bottle on a hot day or in a coat and earmuffs when temperatures plummet! You can view current weather, weather changes across the day, or a week at a glance. For hardcore weather junkies, it includes satellite and radar images as well as watches and warnings. Oh, and did I mention it is FREE? (Swackett is a well developed app that generates its income from an ad banner that runs across the bottom of the screen – you can pay $.99 to have the ads disabled). You can also customize your Swackett by uploading pictures and or purchasing special editions (I could not resist the 1950′s edition – which tells me that today I should be dressing in my poodle skirt and sweater set! I do love a sweater set on a crisp Fall day!) A “Little Peeple” edition with full color icons of kids engaged in weather appropriate activities is due to be released soon!

    Besides the cool factor – this app offers tons of language opportunities!

    • Start your child’s day with a quick check of the weather forecast – stress weather vocabulary (For little guys: “rainy, sunny, cold, warm, wet, cloudy.” For your budding meteorologist, emphasize terms like “temperature, forecast, advisory”). Great material for practicing adjectives! 
    • Build comprehension of temporal concepts (time related concepts such as before, after, now, soon, earlier, later, tonight, tomorrow). ”Now it is sunny, later it will be raining” The ability to scroll from screen to screen is a nice visual aid to help teach these concepts (start on the “current” weather tab, as you move from left to right, you are moving into the future – today, tonight, tomorrow). 
    • While using temporal terms, don’t forget to review verb tense! ”Right now, it IS raining!” Tonight it WILL be sunny!” ”Yesterday WAS cloudy!” 
    • Avoid those clothing choice confrontations! (Even the youngest of my clients seem to have very definite fashion opinions!) Together, check the forecast and help your child pick out their clothes. Be sure to offer choices, “It is going to be cold today, you need a sweater – do want to wear the blue or the green sweater?” 
    • Develop categorizing skills – what kinds of clothes/activities go with a sunny/cold/rainy day? 
    • Work on those essential planning skills (so important for children with Executive Functioning weaknesses). ”Today is Tuesday. Let’s check the weather for the weekend. It is going rain. What are some rainy day activities we could plan?” 
    • Throw in a little Occupational Therapy! Clothes are great for developing those fine motor skills. While donning and doffing (Oh, how I love those words!) clothes have your child work the snaps, buttons and zippers. Bonus – while your child is dressing emphasize prepositions! ”The shirt goes under your sweater.” ”Your hat is on your head.” 
    • Use this app in Circle Time when discussing the weather. Sing the weather song: (to the tune of My Darling Clementine) “What’s the weather? What’s the weather? What’s the weather like today? Is it sunny? Is it cloudy? Is it rainy out today?” So many fun ways to use this app! 

    Ooops, while writing it has started to rain. My Swackett Peep says I need to find my umbrella. Don’t want to get my poodle skirt wet!

    Swackett from AGLogic is a free Universal app available from the Mac App Store and iTunes App Store.  It pulls information from the Internet and therefore requires a wi-fi connection to function.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    My First AAC

    App Name/Publisher: My First AAC/Project Injini

    Anna from Project Injini has generously offered three promo codes to our readers- a TherapyApp411 first!  If you'd like to try for one, email blog@injini.net with the subject line "TherapyApp411 promo code offer." Thanks, Anna! [EDIT: Sorry! Codes all Gone!]

    Description: My First AAC is an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app designed for the iPad. It contains a total of 21 pre-programmed pages containing up to 8 symbols per page. Pages can be accessed through a “home” page, and symbols can be customized using photos from your photo library. There is also an extra (blank) page that can also be customized.

    Therapy Use: Students can use this app to communicate during numerous structured activities, as well as to request basic wants and needs. It contains ample symbols that can be used to build a functional vocabulary for young students. Some of the pages that could be used during structured therapy activities include:
    -In social skills groups; use of the greetings, personal, and social pages.
    -Use of the feelings page to target emotions vocabulary.
    -Use of the questions page to target asking simple questions.
    -Use of shapes, colors, and numbers pages to support early academics.
    -Use of the positions page to work on learning early prepositions/location words including up, down, in, out, around, under, next to, and here.
    -With the recent update, users can now customize symbols using images from their photo library. This provides the ability to make a customized page for use with any therapy activity. -

    A Video Demo for My First AAC can be viewed here

    App Benefits/Likes: This app is very kid-friendly, with highly iconic picture symbols and a realistic sounding voice for either a young boy or girl. Vocabulary is appropriate for young children and for children who are working on building a basic core vocabulary (and then some). Pages and symbols can be customized by creating icons using images from the photo library and recording a voice to label the icon (click here for a video demo). There is a home page from which all the pages can be accessed. This app is also very affordable!

    Cautions: For the price of $24.99, there are not very many cautions! There is a limit of blank customizable pages (1 extra page), but users could completely change the pre-programmed pages if needed. The app is designed for young children, and the icons do suit the targeted age group. To use with much older students, a lot of customizing may need to be done.

    App Summary

    Skills targeted: Requesting, commenting/labeling, using and understanding basic/functional vocabulary, asking and answering questions

    Age/grade level targeted: Toddlers and preschoolers, but may also be appropriate for some elementary school children.

    How to activate:
    Scroll through pages
    Isolated finger point to select symbols

    Type of device: iPad

    Cost: $24.99

    Would you recommend this app? Yes, I would definitely recommend it for new AAC users. 

    Reviewed by Kelli Donovan M.A., CCC-SLP

    Review date: October 31, 2011

    Kelli Donovan is a Speech-Language Pathologist in the Newton, MA Public Schools working primarily with students with significant communication difficulties.