App-titude: Apps That Excite Our Youngest Clients These interactive apps feature visuals that make word-learning and talking fun for tots. App-titude
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App-titude  |   February 01, 2014
App-titude: Apps That Excite Our Youngest Clients
Author Notes
  • Sherry Artemenko, MA, CCC-SLP, founder of the PAL (Play Advances Language) Award, is a toy expert in private practice, Play On Words LLC. She blogs at www.playonwords.com. ■sherry@playonwords.com
    Sherry Artemenko, MA, CCC-SLP, founder of the PAL (Play Advances Language) Award, is a toy expert in private practice, Play On Words LLC. She blogs at www.playonwords.com. ■sherry@playonwords.com×
Article Information
Development / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   February 01, 2014
App-titude: Apps That Excite Our Youngest Clients
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 38-39. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.19022014.38
The ASHA Leader, February 2014, Vol. 19, 38-39. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.19022014.38
As I pack up my therapy bag with bubbles, toys and picture books, I slip in my tablet, thankful for this portable, interactive tool for delivering stimulating content for early intervention. Mobile devices and apps can take us on trips to zoos, parks, kitchens, tea parties, beaches or neighborhoods—perfect for engaging our youngest clients while building their speech and language skills.
Tablet play is typically a solo activity, but I adapt it to be interactive for treatment. Kids learn to take turns, repeating my models as I make changes on the screen, adding, for example, sprinkles to a cookie. Switching roles, kids love to direct me as we play with the app, giving directions and expanding language. Apps designed by speech-language pathologists inherently provide pauses and models for correct responses.
Here I share with you some of my favorite apps for ages 2 and up (I exclusively use traditional toys and games, rather than screen-based ones, with kids younger than 2, based on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations).
Photo banks
Photo banks are helpful in teaching vocabulary. Tap into the 700 photographs organized by category in Speech Box™ by The Jonah Bonah Learning Company (iOS only), and add custom boxes, word prompts or your own pictures. PicCollage by Cardinal Blue (iOS and Android) also works well in early intervention, especially with children with autism spectrum disorder. You can use it to pull together photos, and add text and stickers, to expand on a subject of strong interest to the child. Photos can come from the Web or your own photo stream.
Everyday experiences
Apps that feature scenes from a small child’s everyday experiences enable clinicians to model familiar vocabulary, early phrases and sentences, and to relate the subject to the child’s own experience and, later, three-dimensional play. A virtual dollhouse, My PlayHome by Shimon Young (iOS and Android), draws kids in as they can begin their day shampooing their hair or frying an egg. The app’s soothing background music is easy to talk over.
Draw’n Tell by Duck Duck Moose (iOS only) allows kids to do just that. Create your story about animals, vehicles or bugs as you draw with your finger or stylus. You can choose among colors, patterns and stickers and record your story, too. Focus on 100 verbs with Speech With Milo-Verbs by Doonan Speech Therapy (iOS only, bit.ly/miloverbs). This app comes with excellent treatment instructions for addressing speech goals.
Play sequences
Several apps break out common experiences into sequences, allowing clinicians to model small discrete steps to build vocabulary, grammar and length of utterance. Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose (iOS and Android) is a hands-down favorite with kids and parents. Choose a cookie recipe, and start sifting, cutting, pouring, mixing, rolling and decorating, with no clean-up!
Sago Mini Forest Flyer, a free app for iOS from Sago Sago’s open-ended platform, delights kids ages 2 and older as they fly Robin the bird through the forest. Also fun for tots is Toca Tea Party by Toca Boca AB (iOS only, bit.ly/tocatea), in which users set the table, select snacks and serve beverages, all helpful for language expansion.
Another language-expansion favorite of mine is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Play at Home with Daniel by PBS KIDS, in which little ones visit the doctor with Daniel or work through bathtime and bedtime rituals with him (iOS; Android).
SLP tool kits
Finally, who can’t use some built-in help with finding pictures, monitoring progress and informing parents? Articulation Station Pro from Little Bee Speech is indispensable for providing kid-friendly pictures—and its sister app, Articulation Test Center, offers a nonstandardized test and screener, and reports for parents on their children’s progress (both apps are iOS).
Apps just keep on making our jobs easier!
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FROM THIS ISSUE
February 2014
Volume 19, Issue 2