Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Minimal Pair Pack and Odd One Out Apps

The following app reviews were written by Australian Speech/Language Pathologist Jess Langhorne. Thank you Jess for submitting these app reviews.

Minimal Pair Pack and Odd One Out:
A modern twist on two old favourites.
Review by Jess Langhorne April 2012

Minimal Pair Pack and Odd One Out are two handy applications bought to you from the clever folk at tboxapps. Tboxapps provide software and applications for Speech Pathologists, teachers and people with communication difficulties and disorders such as aphasia, autism and developmental language difficulties, and their specialty is AAC. A quick look at any of their products will reveal the deft touch in design and utility that comes from having both a Speech Pathologist and IT specialist in the mix!

Both apps were easy to download, even for an iPad-newbie like me. (You can also use the apps on an iPod Touch or iPhone)


Minimal Pair Pack features two main tasks in flashcard-like presentation: discrimination and phrase completion.

You start each section by choosing from a large selection of contrasting consonants, via two nifty consonant ‘rolls’.

In the discrimination task, you press the arrow symbol to start the task, and the client is required to listen to the voice output of a word and select the corresponding picture from a contrasting pair of words. For example, in the contrast from the ‘m’and ‘n’ section pictured below, the clients discriminates between 'map' and 'nap'.


Graphics are clear and simple and easy to select, making it suitable for use with both pediatric and adult client groups. My three-year-old was keen to give it a road- test, and he recognized quite a few of the graphics and thought it was great fun!

Simple auditory and visual cues provide instant feedback: a green tick and fun noise for correct and red cross and noise for incorrect.


You can adjust or switch off the sound effects in the ‘settings’ section on the home page (‘wheel’ symbol). You can also choose to display symbol and word, symbol only or word only.

If the client chooses incorrectly the first time, you have the option to try again, and some teaching could take place here too.

It is easy to navigate between screens and tasks by tapping the 'back' button in the top left hand corner of the screen.

In the phrase completion section, the client is required to listen to a phrase and choose the correct word to complete it from a pair of contrasting words eg, 'carry it in a ....' ('bag').

A green bar at the top of the screen gives a visual depiction of how many tasks are left, and therapists will love the 'summary' feature, which automatically calculates the client's accuracy rates for each pair of sounds.


And the designers have thought of everything—even giving you the option to email results.

Available at tboxapps: http://www.tboxapps.com/index.html for $US29 (£UK20.99 and $AU31.99), it is a handy resource for a Speech Pathologist or teacher’s toolbox.



Odd One Out pack is a resource that targets semantic reasoning, and is also useful for a range of clients in both pediatric and adult populations. The tasks are graded by level of difficulty, with increasing closeness in semantic relationships. The therapist can choose to display either 3 or 6 cards in each of the three sections: easy, medium and hard.

There's a variety of tasks available, with each level having 5 sets of 25 activities. There is also a ‘shuffle’ button that mixes up the visual placement of pictures, allowing extra practice.



The client is asked to look at the pictures and choose which one doesn’t belong with the others. For example, in the task pictured above, they are presented with five pictures from the ‘clothing’ category and a picture of a tree, which doesn’t belong.

In the settings section (tap ‘settings’ in the top right hand corner of the home page), you have the option of having the sounds effects turned on or off, and using symbols only, words only or symbols and words together.

Again, graphics are clear, simple, colourful and accessible for a wide range of client groups. Auditory and visual effects provide clear and instant feedback (a green tick appears for correct and red cross for incorrect.)


If the client chooses incorrectly, the correct choice is lit up in green, and you are given the option of trying again. There is also a ‘pause’ button which is handy if therapists or teachers would like to discuss the reasoning or problem solving related to the task.

It’s easy to use and navigate between pages (home button in top right hand corner of the screen).

The results page is a great feature—it records the date, the number of cards, level of difficulty and the client's accuracy rate— making it an easy way to record case notes and monitor progress. You are also able to email results.


Odd One Out is available for download from iTunes (or see website: http://www.tboxapps.com/index.html), and at $US29.99 (UK£20.99, $AU31.99), it is also a very handy addition to your language therapy toolbox.

Both programs would be useful for clients to complete self-directed practice or carry over therapy goals at home.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dexteria

Reviewed by: Abby Brayton, MS, OTR/L (Click here to see Abby's blog!)

App Name/Publisher: Dexteria by BinaryLabs

Description: Dexteria consists of three sets of hand exercises to enhance fine motor skill development and promote handwriting readiness. Tap It promotes finger isolation, Pinch It promotes the development of a pincer grasp, and Write It promotes the development of more advanced finger movements required for tracing letters.


Therapy Use: I often use the Tap It and Pinch It sets as a warm-up activity prior to handwriting during an OT session. In Pinch It (shown below), the goal is to pinch each crab to make it disappear.


As the levels get more challenging, the crabs increase in numbers and begin to move around. They even turn red and if you pinch a red crab, it will multiply into three crabs!


Tap It works on finger isolation. I find that this set of exercises is quite challenging for most students, but is great for working on motor planning, in addition to finger isolation. Tap It can be used with either hand and is first calibrated to the student’s hand, as shown below.


The student then must keep his hand on the blue anchor and use his fingers to tap the triangles as they appear.


Write It consists of letter tracing of capital letters, lowercase letters, and numbers 1-9. It promotes correct letter formation and reinforces that for most letters you do not need to pick your pencil up while writing the letter. Write It requires a significant amount of accuracy when tracing, encouraging precise finger and hand movements. Used in conjunction with a stylus, it can be a great tool for teaching letter formation!




App Benefits/Likes: Tap It and Pinch It get more challenging with each level passed. Write It promotes appropriate letter and number formation. Letter formation can be completed using a stylus to promote carryover to paper and pencil. Touch screen letter formation is great for students who are resistant to holding a pencil or crayon. Can be used with children or adults. Automatically creates performance and usage reports that can be emailed. Great for data collection!

Cautions: Finger isolation is challenging for many students in Tap It. Since fingernails to do not activate the screen, students can have difficulty pinching the crabs in Pinch It. Write It does not provide as much auditory or visual feedback as some other letter formation apps. Write It requires extreme accuracy in tracing, which can be frustrating for early writers.

Skill(s) Targeted:
Finger isolation
Fine motor planning
Fine Motor control
Visual motor
Letter formation

Age/Grade Levels Targeted: This app primarily targets younger children (ages 4-10) who are developing finger isolation and grasping skills, as well as letter formation. The app is not overly childish, so it could really be used by someone of any age who is working on developing those skills.

How to Activate: Isolated finger point for Tap It, Two finger swipe for Pinch It, Hold and drag for Write It.

Type of Device: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad Requires iOS 3.2 or later

Cost $4.99

Would you recommend this app? Yes, absolutely for the for the Tap It and Pinch It exercises! These exercises are unique to this app. If you are only looking for a letter tracing app, Dexteria might not be the app for you.

Review Date 4/1/12

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Auditory Workout


This post originally appeared on the blog of Jenna Rayburn.  Thanks to Jenna for letting us re-post it!.  Please help us to thank Jenna by visiting her blog, Speech Room News.
Auditory Workout is a new app from Virtual Speech Center, released April 2012. The app is developed for students with receptive language impairments and auditory processing disorders. While the basis for each of these disorders is different - the symptoms are very similar. Understanding and completing multi-step directions is a key skill often targeting in therapy. The app is intended for children age 4-10, but depending on your student's cognitive abilities, could also be used for children in older grades.


The app includes hundreds of audio instructions and a feature that allows users to set background noise (classroom noise). Yes, I said background noise! This feature is so important for children with APD. Children are welcomed by the basketball coach, who encourages them to work hard. Children earn a basketball for each correct response, and when they accumulate enough balls, they are rewarded with a game (a game of catch for younger children or/and basketball for older children).



Auditory Workout allows children to follow increasingly longer and more complex directions and includes more than 13 levels of difficulty. The directions are divided into four categories:
- Basic Directions- Quantitative and Spatial directions- Temporal directions - Conditional Directions





This is an app I have been needing for many of my students. Following directions is a tedious goal to work on session after session, but my students have been loving this app! It allows you to select various levels of difficulty that are appropriate for your clients. The game lets you select multiple clients at one time that cycle through with the name of the child on the top of the screen. Each child can work on different goals throughout the game and you can select multiple learning targets for each child. Data reports are available at the end of sessions.




The app allows the user to repeat the directions as many times as necessary before making a selection. The biggest change I would love to see with this app is to give the therapist the opportunity to repeat questions that students answer wrong. For 2 step directions the student selects their answers before entering 'go.' I found that I could stop them before they selected 'go' but that eliminates the data keeping from the app. I'd love if when they got the answer wrong, the screen allowed for a teaching moment. My screen for the basketball game didn't look at nice as this picture above. I'm not sure what's wrong but the background is all black, instead of this pretty orange! Luckily the hoop and the counters were still there so we could play! Hopefully the developer can fix that bug quickly!
Overall I think therapists are going to find the app incredibly useful in therapy rooms across the country! Check it out in the itunes store today!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

LEGO Super Hero Movie Maker

This review was written by Deb Tomarakos and originally appeared on www.SpeechGadget.com.

If you follow my blog, then you know that I think LEGOs are great for speech/language development and for use in therapy. I previously have discussed the LEGO web site and you can find that post here. Today, I want to talk about LEGOs newest app, the LEGO Super Hero Movie Maker.


I have to start by telling you my 9 year old son loves this app. When I showed it to him and asked him if he wanted to make a movie, he ran up to his room and was back in 2 seconds with some LEGO men and a LEGO scene in hand. He was excited before he even knew what he could do with the app. This app has the potential to be an excellent motivator for children in therapy.

So, here is a little about the app.

The LEGO Super Hero Movie Maker is an app for your iPhone that allows you to make stop action movies. The app also works on the iPod Touch and the iPad. Essentially, kids pose their LEGO figures, take a picture with the iPhone (or iPad), move the LEGOS a bit, take another picture, etc. The app is easy to use and allows you to include a title card, add and remove frames, add in a movie sound track (currently 5 soundtracks to choose from) and add a color filter. When you have finished creating your movie, you can share it with your friends.

One of the best features about this app is that it is FREE. Adults have to love a FREE app that kids will love, that is easy to use, and that taps into creativity. There are so many language applications for this app. The most apparent use is for story telling. If you use this app within a group, you can also target team work. Other targets can be following directions, spatial concepts, and sequencing skills. Problem solving skills can be targeted when setting up the figures and taking the photos. My son found he had to be creative and problem solve when he wanted a figure to fly through the air. He couldn't hold the figure up in the air because his hand would be in the photo. He decided to suspend the figure from a small "rope" that came with one of his LEGO sets.

The one con for speech/language use is the lack of a voice recording feature. In other words, you can not record your voice to tell the story or record "dialogue" between the figures. To work around that, you can get creative and add in dialogue by photographing dialog boxes or pieces of paper with dialogue written on them. The fact that you can't add in voice is a great way to challenge the students to discuss non-verbal communication. The students may need to focus in on a figure's face, or try to pose it's body to demonstrate a particular feeling or emotion. I think it would be fun to tie in a lesson on silent movies. You can download old silent movies from silentmovies.org. Silent movies are a great way to discuss body language and non-verbal communication.

The possibilities for story creating are endless with this app. While the app was developed with the LEGO Super Heroes in mind, you can use any LEGO figures and sets to create your movies. You can also use other action figures or figurines.

Here is a great You Tube video tutorial that demonstrates how easy it is to use the app.


Here is our first attempt at a video. It is definitely not as good as the one posted above. Some of our pictures are blurry and we didn't even include a soundtrack. I wanted to share our first, less than perfect attempt because I wanted you to see that it really is easy to just open the app and use it.




Overall, I was please with this free app. It is easy to use and encourages children to develop story lines. It also encourages creativity, team work and problem solving.





Monday, May 14, 2012

Language Adventures

This post originally appeared on Hanna B, Grad Student SLP.  Thanks, Hanna for allowing us to re-post, and for the mention of TherapyApp411!

It’s been a while since I last reviewed an app, so I think it’s high time for such a blog post (you have dysphagia and motor speech disorders exams to blame for that)! Smarty Ears has a new(ish) app out called Language Adventures (currently on sale for $9.99 in the iTunes App Store until May 16). I was fortunate enough to win a copy of it through a Facebook contest that TherapyApp 411 held a few weeks back, and I’m excited to share some of the great features this app has to offer! Language Adventures is a language board game app that targets synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings in both receptive and expressive modalities!

First and foremost, a HUGE Thank you to Barbara Fernandes and the rest of the Smarty Ears brainteam for adding video tutorials to all their apps! I know, I know…all technology should just be “intuitive” these days right? WRONG! We all find ourselves caught in the trap of thinking we know exactly how an app is supposed to run, only to find out that we’ve been neglecting some of the coolest, most exciting features all along simply because we never took the time to learn how to access them. Usually this happens as soon as we give the iPad to a client and give them the freedom to “figure the app out”…a million times better and faster than we did! Smarty Ears makes it so easy to learn all the perks of their apps through clear, concise, and accessible tutorials! (Woot Woot)



The Language Adventures game will support 1-4 students, so it’s a great option for individual therapy and group therapy alike! Adding a new student/client is easy: just enter their name, DOB, grade level, target items (synonyms, antonyms, and/or multiple meanings), and target language mode (receptive or expressive). You can even add a photo or avatar to represent each student (and who doesn’t love seeing themselves when an app is opened?!?!). Yes…I did name my pretend student “Fro” (can you tell someone was craving fro-yo when she was testing out this app?). The game can be played at 3 different levels, so never fear: this game will grow with your clients and be more than just a one-hit wonder!



The app itself is designed as a board game! Brilliant! For each turn, the client taps the dice to determine how many spaces they can move on the board. In order to cause their piece to advance, they must click on the square that correctly corresponds with the number rolled on the dice (Hey-o…math too!). Best part of rolling dice on an Ipad? They never fall off the table!!!!! As soon as the correct box is chosen and the piece moves forward, a language question will appear for the client. If you chose to target all 3 language skills, they will appear in random order throughout the game; otherwise all the questions will relate to your designated skill determined for the kiddo.



If you are working on receptive language skills, 4 possible answer choices will appear for the child to choose from. When working on expressive skills, the question is open-ended and the child must generate their own response that you can then mark as accurate or incorrect (Yup, this app collects your data for you too).



In the settings tab, you have the ability to turn audio-reading of questions on or off as well as to choose the consequence that occurs when an incorrect choice is made during receptive language questions. Luckily for you, you’ll never need to worry about adjusting trivial things like the background music or minor features…in fact, the snappy music will keep you and your client(s) jammin’ through your whole session :) All in all, I highly recommend this app for targeting the specific language skills it incorporates. Your clients are sure to love the board game concept, and you’re bound to love all the great learning opportunities this app provides for language!

Disclosure: Sean Sweeney, M.S. CCC-SLP, one of the editors of TherapyApp411, was involved in the development of this app and receives a share of its profits.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bag Game

Bag Game is an interactive app for iPad and other iDevices (iPhone, iPod) that brings the game of "20 Questions" to the iPad format. Using Bag Game (the folks at all4mychild emphasize that it is a social game that can't be played alone) children can choose an object from various categories, hide it "in a bag" and engage in a clue-giving/guessing process with another child or you as the therapist. Question prompts are provided (e.g. "Is it in the ___ group?") that also function as a question/clue tally and gear the game toward the use of Yes/No questions. However, this activity can easily be modified to target use of key semantic attributes, with the "hider" providing clues about category, function, location, associations, and appearance to a communication partner. Guessing games of this type address a number of objectives, including semantics, listening, question formation, turn-taking and other social-pragmatic skills.



I really can't think of anything but positive things to say about this app! It's simple, yet addresses a complex and key skill that students need repeated practice with.  I have used it with kids at various grade levels and they love it, from the selection of the adorable illustrations to "bag," to the "pinching" effect that "opens the bag." The categories and category items are generous, such that the app could be used to target basic categories (included: animals and food, in various subcategories, sports equipment, appliances, instruments, tools, vehicles). Most of all, I am not a "stuff guy" and I would likely never endeavor to play a real "bag" game, with the exception of the activities that come with the Talkies program, so this app caters to my need for simplicity.  Speaking of Talkies, this app, with its hidden object  context, could also be used to target visualization as a language strategy.

Bag Game is also featured as part of all4mychild's terrific Social Adventures app, an e-guide to targeting social interactions through fun games, activities, catch phrases and visual cue cards, but as a stand-alone, the price is totally right at $1.99.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Scribble Press

This post originally appeared on the blog of Hanna Bogen, Hanna B, gradstudentSLP. Thanks to Hanna for letting us re-post and please check out her blog.

Now that finals are over and I’m well on my way out of rainy dodge to a week of sunshine in AZ, it’s time for another app review. This time I’m talking story creation with Scribble Press. This app is fantastic for letting kids create their own books (which can even be ordered and mailed to you if you’re feeling sentimental). What I love about Scribble Press is the ability to start with the “skeleton” of a book and fill in the details so kids can make it their own.

When you click on the “New Book” link, it brings you to a shelf full of book categories. Does your client love aliens? CHECK! Is it Christmas/Hanukkah time and you want to do a holiday themed book? CHECK! Check out the various book categories below!


Within each category is a list of actual book “skeletons” to choose from. The image below shows the book options available in the “About Me” category.


Once you’ve decided on a book, a madlibs-esque screen will pop up with a story skeleton and blank spaces for you to fill in with your client. This is a great opportunity for them to practice spelling/typing skills if appropriate. For those kiddos who hate to generate their own sentences or stories, this is great because it gives them a place to start from which to come up with ideas. You can always go back later and edit the skeleton to be more relevant to your client (or just create a book from scratch with no skeleton).



Once everything is filled in, it’s time to illustrate the book! The app has a decent selection of images to choose from, but the real gem is the ability to choose from a PLETHORA of colors and a PLETHORA of “marker types” to draw your own pictures. I love the creativity this encourages in kids. You can always alter your books to target particular artic sounds, semantic categories, or language elements.





You’re enticed, aren’t you? So…the big question: how much is this app? FREE!! That’s right folks, Scribble Press is absolutely free. Depending on the level of support you want to offer, this app is great for kids of all ages (or maybe even some of the adult clients out there) and opens the therapy floodgates for a multitude of great intervention targets and ideas!