Thursday, April 26, 2012

Articulation Station

This post originally appeared at Play on Words. Thanks to author Sherry Artemenko for allowing us to repost it!

“Articulation Station” by Little Bee has all the app-tributes for an engaging, fun, successful therapy session. Organized in a thoughtful way, it promotes practice of the 22 sounds of the English language, by initial, medial and final placement in a word as well as blends, and in increasingly difficult contexts through the word, sentence and story levels. What stands out in this app is the rich variety of images — photographs of a close-up rose, blowup rainbow, 3-D robot or a watermelon that you’d like to taste–so identification is clear and appealing to the student.

Since I am an itinerant speech therapist, I deliver therapy in kids’ homes. I knew I had a winner when I used “Articulation Station” with my kids and the parents got hooked too, wanting to immediately buy the app for their child! There went my creative therapy tool, oh well.

Word Level

I used Articulation Station with a variety of kids working on sounds, ages 3-11. Tap the screen to hear the correct production before a child’s attempt or give your own best speech therapist model! Every step can easily be recorded by pushing the little red button on the lower left and then listening to the child’s attempt. This is so helpful in training a child to make his own judgements about his productions. A 5 year-old could move through the steps independently, including recording and listening to her voice, but she needed an adult over her shoulder to remind her to say the words! I guess she thought she was just playing a video game there for a minute.

Rotating Sentence Level

At the word level, kids can choose between practice with 20 flashcards or a matching game where a winning match causes the cards to disappear into a cloud of stars–just what kids love. The sentence level offers options for rotating words within the same sentence or unique sentences. Rotating was a favorite as kids filled in a silly sentence such as “Sally sang a song about the _____” or Michelle put the ____ in the washer.” Kids loved to press the Spin button so the fill-in-the blank options rotated to give a new word to use in the sentence. 5 year-old Hailey completed, “Michelle put the ocean in the washer,” and then said, “Silly Michelle!” The rotating option was easier for younger kids who can’t read yet because they could memorize the carrier phrase, although I found that the unique sentences worked well when we tapped the screen to hear the model and kids could at least repeat the first half of the sentence which usually contained the target word.

The story level is composed of two levels, of cleverly composed stories using multiple target words in a repetitive pattern. “The kid hid on his new slide, under his bed, behind the sled” and so on. Three wh-questions follow for the child to answer. Level 1 uses pictures interspersed in the text for emergent or reluctant readers, while level 2 is all text.
What I liked:
  • well-organized by sound, position, and level of difficulty
  • beautiful, engaging graphics
  • fantastically fun spinner that kids loved
  • clever stories with questions to answer (we all know this isn’t easy, considering the word bank we have to work with!)
  • easy data collection method to keep track of percentage of correct responses
  • easy sound recording and playback feature that kids as young as 5 can do independently
  • variety of activities to engage the kids, especially those with a short attention span
I highly recommend Articulation Station for speech therapists and parents for home practice. Thanks to speech and language pathologist Heidi Hanks for this great app, which is an extension of the excellent content she has on her website for those who want to learn about speech sound articulation,

The above is solely the opinion of the author. Articulation Station app was provided for review by Little Bee

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Profile of Phonological Awareness

App Name: Profile of Phonological Awareness (Pro-PA)
Price : $29.99
Published by Smarty Ears
Created by Tanya Coyle, Speech/Language Pathologist
Review by: Deb Tomarakos, MA CCC/SLP
This app review originally appeared on

App Description: Pro-PA was developed to evaluate and describe phonological awareness skills in children.

Pro-PA examines a variety of phonological awareness skills, including the following: identification and production of rhymes; blending syllables and phonemes; isolation of initial, medial and final phonemes; segmenting words; syllables and phonemes; deleting syllables and initial phonemes in words; substitution of initial or final phonemes of words.

Features: ability to administer to single students or groups of students; ability to enter student information and track data over time; tests consonant clusters; examiner does not have to administer all sections of the test; email and or print test results.

Example of Subtest Administration

Prior to purchasing Pro-PA, my go to phonological awareness screening test was the PAST (Phonological Awareness Skills Test). I have found Pro-PA to be similar in administration to the PAST. Both are easy to administer, provide information regarding a variety of phonological awareness skills, and provide information that is useful for goal selection.

App Pros: ease of administration; administration time of 10-20 minutes; ability to administer portions of the test or the whole test; includes a variety to phonological awareness skills and includes 12 total subtests; ability to enter descriptive notes regarding performance on each subtest area; skills are described as not attained (less than 50% success), emerging (50-79%), and achieved (greater than 80%).; test includes consonant clusters; pop up counter provides a visual for child to utilize during segmenting subtests.

Example of in app scoring, including color coding based on results.

I appreciate that the app contains a 25 page manual that includes detailed information regarding test administration. The manual includes a table that lists the expected time frames for skill acquisition based on current research. Also included is a list of supporting references/journal articles.

In app list of time frame for skill acquisition.

In app list of references.
App Cons: I have to say that overall I was very satisfied with Pro-PA. One con, for me, is the price of the app. My app budget is rather limited and so any time an app is over a few dollars, I have to think long an hard about my purchase. A second con is that the app is not yet widely known or used as a screening tool. Many teachers and school systems are familiar with other screening tests, such as the PAST. With that in mind, professionals working in school systems may need to discuss the use of the app (in place of their current screening tool) with their grade level teams and their administration.

If you work with pre-school to early elementary aged children, Pro-PA can be useful as a screening tool for phonological awareness skills and as a means of selecting appropriate phonological awareness goals. I believe the app is appropriate for use by SLPs, educators and reading specialists.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

FitQuest Lite

This review originally appeared at Starfish Therapies.  Thank you to author Stacy Menz for allowing us to repost it!

Your Therapy Source told me about the Free app FitQuest Lite by JogHop, so I downloaded it and then tried to figure out when I would use it.

It actually worked great for 2 kiddos that I work with that are completely different in terms of presentation. One of the kiddos has Developmental Coordination Disorder and we work a lot on timing of movement that is self generated, that is cued, that is reactionary to something happening to the environment as well as the coordination of that movement. The other kiddo has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and we spend a lot of time working on bilateral hand use, standing balance, anticipatory balance control and reaction time.

By using this app I was able to work on all of these things. They get the visual cues of the squirrel running down a path (whose movement is generated by the kiddo’s movement) and then have to react to the obstacles that come along the way. This can include jumping over a snake or ducking to get away from an eagle. In addition to the visual cues I have been able to vocally tell them when to jump or duck or whatever the task is requiring. As they practice, they get the repetition and are able to anticipate when to move to get the desired result and time the motion so that they make it over the snake. As they progress, they need fewer and fewer verbal cues.

Their timing and reactions improve as well as their anticipatory reactions where they can plan a movement, and their body knows what it needs to do in order to maintain their balance for that action. For my kiddo that has spastic quadriplegia CP, we didn’t do the leg motions as much but used the bilateral hand use to generate the movement. He was able to make it jump by lifting the phone up, and duck by bringing the phone down. The squirrel was able to move down the path by his shaking his arms slightly. It was a great balance tool and really helped his bilateral hand use.

All in all this is a great free app that can develop on anticipatory reactions as well as timing, balance and bilateral hand use!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Articulate It!

This post originally appeared at Play on Words. Thanks to author Sherry Artemenko for allowing us to re-post!

As speech pathologists we are always looking for new tools to add to our bag, and certainly the iPad has become a favorite for all of us, including the kids! Sifting through the thousands of apps takes time, but is worth it to have a stash of great apps to enrich our therapy sessions.

Articulate It! by Smarty Ears ($38.99, Universal app for iPhone/iPod/iPad is a welcome addition to our world of apps. Designed by one of the leading developers in speech and language apps, Barbara Fernandes, it starts with a complete video tutorial so you can learn all the features available. Besides providing over 1,000 images to practice all the consonants in the English language, you have options to select specific sounds (Phonemes), Phonological Processes or Manner of Articulation which gives broader options than just practicing specific sounds. Words can be practiced at the Word or Phrase (sentence) level with options to hear a recorded production of each task as well as record your client’s attempt. Percentage of accuracy, words attempted, recordings and notes can all be accessed in the child’s Report Card and shared through e-mail or printed to inform parents or teachers.

What I liked:
  • Great 5 minute tutorial explaining all the features
  • Ability to use in a group session, easily selecting the target sounds for each child and setting up taking turns with appropriate tasks for each child–even the ability to rotate the image on the screen to face children around a table
  • Easy collection of data including recordings from the session as well as words attempted
  • Ability to select your goals from the last session and pick up where you left off last session without going through the selection process again
  • Variety of images–photographs, drawings and stick figures –to portray nouns, verbs and adjectives for various language options
  • Flexibility to adjust settings
  • Text aimed at an older audience than preschool such as "Thebes is a city in Egypt” or “Lori was thereby declared the winner,” which will keep the interest of adults too.
Kids loved to be involved with recording and listening to their attempts as well as rate their response, pressing the check mark! I know this app is constantly being improved and revised so would suggest that some games be added for some variety to keep kids engaged.

I highly recommend this app for speech therapists and parents so kids and adults can become more proficient in their articulation.

The opinions above are solely those of the author. Articulate It! was provided for review by Smarty Ears.