Apps for Speech and Language Development

Whether you are a parent, teacher or therapist, often each of us, in some way, is helping to improve the speech and language skills of students/children. So many children do not develop their speech and language skills as expected, and often they need support to develop effective skills. When I am not on the road training, or sitting behind this computer, I am working with kids.  And I have figured out that, while the iPad does not replace traditional therapy tools/strategies, it certainly is another tool in our toolkit that can make a difference, reinforce skills, or add something extra!

 

This article has been inspired by a very good friend of mine, who last week graduated as a Speech Pathologist. A perfect graduation gift? An iPad of course…. But now she comes to me to say… but what APPS do I need???

 So list is really for her… But let’s share it with others too? Here it is!

 

AMANDA’S LIST OF APPS FOR SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Speech Development and Sound Production

  • Apps like Talking Tom, or my personal favourite Talking Carl are fun, and used in the right way, can help students to play with sounds and words, receiving auditory feedback about how they said it.
  • Tiga talk – a kid friendly way to teach and encourage children to say speech sounds in isolation, eg. Saying the “B” sound propels the boat through the water further and faster as the child says each sound.
  • Small talk phonemes/ Small talk consonant blends – video flashcards of individual sounds (phonemes) or blends.
  • Speech Sounds on Cue (Australian version) – videos of the mouth producing individual sounds and words, with clear spoken/written instructions for each sound also.

Next are just some of the apps available that have sets of sounds, to help students work on specific sound production. If you are concerned about a student’s speech development, you may need a full speech assessment from a Speech Pathologist to help you determine what specific sounds they may or may not need help with. Note: Most of these have a Free/Lite version, which you can get and then buy the additional sounds you need as In-App purchases. Or alternatively you can buy the full/professional versions to access ALL the sounds.

  • Articulation Station – Each sound has flashcards, memory, sentence and story level activities.  Also has: Good photo images, data tracking, voice recording.
  • Articulation Castle - This app lets you set speech goals for each student (eg. ‘k’ sound in initial position in single syllable words) and will target lessons at these goals. Also has: Clear photos, Arcade style games, data tracking, voice recording.
  • ArtikPixThis app has flashcards at word and sentence level for each sound, using Symbolstix images. Pros: Clear images, data tracking (for up to 4 students at once), voice recording.
  • Articulate it!No free version of this app, but contains high quality photos with all sounds. Also has: Data tracking (for multiple students); voice recording.
  • Minimal Pair Pack – Great for minimal pair therapy – select your 2 sounds to contrast, eg. If the child currently says “tee” for “key”, you would pick the “T” and “K” sounds, to complete activities with. Has a discrimination task (eg. Can the student discriminate if a word starts with ‘t’ or ‘k’?) and also a very useful phrase completion activity (eg. Can the student select the correct word in the phrase? “What did you___?”-TAKE or CAKE)
  • Minimal Pairs Academy – Another app for minimal pair therapy, with auditory bombardment, auditory discrimination, production and phrase completion tasks.
  • SLP Minimal Pairs – Another app for minimal pair therapy, targeting a set of common sound errors (processes). Has auditory training and contrast tasks, as well as drill repetition for target words.

 

LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Grammar:

Target specific grammatical elements and sentence structures using these apps:

Also try to weave grammar/sentence goals into some of the fun, interactive based apps you have. For example, work on “he/she” while using  My Playhome; Help students to use “his/her” in Dress Up Superheroes; develop requesting sentences in Toca Tea Party. You are only limited by your imagination!

 

Descriptive Language:

There are many apps that can work on descriptive language, pick any CREATION app and use it help students make choices and describe what they are creating. Eg. Dressing a princess in a fluffy pink dress with silver sparkles, or making a chocolate chip cupcake with strawberry icing and rainbow sprinkles, or making a monster with a Green head, four eyes and three feet. Highly motivating, fun and if used the right way, provide heaps of opportunities for language stimulation, modeling and use of descriptive language. I have often used the characters/monsters created as the basis of “Character Descriptions” for older students as a written literacy task.

Here are my top favourite Creation apps that may help develop use of descriptive language:

 

Following instructions

Apps specifically for following instructions and comprehension: Splingo; Fun with Directions; More Fun with Directions; Picture the Sentence, to name just a few.

And then there is often the chance to working on following directions within fun and interactive apps, such as:

  • My Playhome (eg. Give the baby an apple to eat);
  • Clicky Sticky (eg. Put the crab behind the rock)
  • Toca Kitchen Monsters (eg. The monster wants to eat a carrot that has been cut up and boiled.)
  • Creation apps (see previous list) (eg. Put strawberry icing on the cupcake, Give the monster purple hair)
  • And many more…!

 

Sequencing

I like using sequencing activities to develop beginning storytelling and to help students to start joining ideas together, maintaining a cohesive sequential order.

  • iSequence – This is my favourite app for sequencing, with nice clear graphics and easy to understand stories, this one is a winner! Students need to put the cards (3 or 4) into the correct order and I make them tell the story as they do so. Then they have to make a guess as to “what happens next?”.
  • Speech with Milo: Sequences – Another great sequencing app that requires students to put 3 sequence pictures in the correct order. This app also has a video of the sequence that can be played when the sequence is completed. And again, I model and support students to tell a story using the sequence as we go.

 

Story telling:

OLD FAVOURITES we know: Toontastic, Playschool Art Maker, Sock Puppets, Puppet Pals, etc.

Some NEW FAVOURITES I like:

  • Toontastic Junior – Has a simpler beginning, middle and ending story structure
  • Collins Big Cat books – There  8 FREE books in this range and they are marvelous for interactive reading, but the ability to make your own scenes and record your own voice telling the story makes them GREAT for working on story telling
  • Don’t let the pigeon run this app – Based on the Pigeon books by Mo Willems, this app is fun, fun, fun! Select the ‘CREATE your own story’ as a ‘BIG PIGEON’ and you get to record your voice answering particular questions and then the app puts it all together into your own Pigeon story!
  • Story Maker – A fantastic app, that allows you create a story using a wide range of vocabulary pictures or your own photos. Add multiple pages and then record your voice telling your story. My favourite Story telling app of the year, for sure!
  • Story Dice – Roll the dice and start an idea… help students to think of a story using the two items they rolled!
  • Monsters vs. Superheroes Comic Book Maker – Create a scene of monsters and Superheroes and then record your story as the characters move around the screen. While this is fantastic fun, it is also a great way to work together to plan your story and your characters, before you start telling and recording your story!
  • Tools4Students – A collection of graphic organisors that can be used to plan story telling (and many other spoken and written genres). Take notes in each section of the plan and then use that plan to tell or write a story. Plan can be emailed and printed.

REWARD GAMES

Although I try to point out to many children the giant cupboard of toys in my room………..

quite often they choose to use the iPad as their reward.  I make them do this first though…. :)

Token board works everytime!

When giving the kids this reward time, I always set the TIMER (iPad timer comes standard in iOS 6+, in the Clock function) for a set time (2mins, 5mins), so they know how long they can play for. I also encourage them choose one game and stick to it, preventing wasting their time clicking in and out of apps.

I guess you could say that these reward games have been chosen by my students – as they are the one most often chosen and enjoyed:

  1. Lego 4+ (build a lego car and drive it!)
  2. Jetpack
  3. Spy Mouse HD
  4.  Angry Birds
  5. Fruit Ninja
  6. Fireman Sam
  7. Any Toca Boca App
  8. My PlayHome

You may like to follow and watch Apps being produced by these developers:

And I hang around at this website a lot!!!!

http://www.appymall.com/

I also have many apps that I use for early learning and language stimulation for younger students and/or students with disabilities. But I’m keeping these up my sleeve for now, as they will be a part of a webinar coming to Spectronics Online next year.

Good luck and have fun! Everyone can have fun working on Speech and Language! Enjoy it. As always, I appreciate your feedback – so please share any of your favourite apps for Speech and Language with me at amandah@spectronics.com.au and I will add them to this blog post.

Amanda

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About Amanda Hartmann

Amanda is a Speech Pathologist with over 17 years experience. She has worked within educational settings, and currently divides her time between her busy private practice and as an Inclusive Technology Consultant with Spectronics www.spectronics.com.au.

Amanda is a Key Word Sign/Makaton Presenter, an official Proloquo2Go trainer www.assistiveware.com/amanda-hartmann and an official expert TBoxApps Trainer for Therapy Box. She is also a certified Apple Trainer and regularly runs iPad workshops to help schools integrate iPad technology into the classroom, for all learners.

Amanda has a special interest in supporting and developing communication, literacy and learning for a wide range of diverse learners, often through the use of visual tools, sign language and technology. She has spent many years providing therapy support and teacher/parent training in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for students with complex communication needs, due to disabilities such as: Cerebral palsy and other Physical impairments, Visual impairment, Hearing impairment, Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Intellectual Impairment, Angelman Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and others. She also has specialist knowledge to support the literacy learning of students with learning difficulties, language impairments and other diverse learning needs. She is passionate about providing interactive and engaging presentations to educators, parents and therapists.

10 Responses to Apps for Speech and Language Development

  1. I am the mother of four children! I have two older kids, 17 and 13
    And twins that turned 3 n nov! One of which talk very well and the other one does not! Have any suggestions for 3 yr olds?

  2. colin Ireland says:

    I have a 78 year old uncle who has suffered a stroke and after a few months is struggling to talk and can only say a few short words.When he tries to say a sentence it is totally understandable.

    What would you recommend to help him?

    Thanks

    Colin

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      Hi Colin,
      We would firstly recommend that your uncle has an assessment with a speech pathologist and occupational therapist to look at a range of skills such as fine motor, motor, cognitive, vision, language etc so that this can help match the right features to a tool that can help him communicate. There are many tools such as using a dedicated communication device (eg. Dynavox Maestro or Lightwriter SL40), an iPad with communication app or a laptop with communication software. The recommendations will depend on his level of skills, motivation, preferences etc. He may still have good ability to spell messages so then a tool with keyboard that will speak his messages could be used. Sometimes after stroke, the ability to spell is affected and so a symbol board that can speak messages may be more useful. I am happy for you to contact me to explain further and direct you to services within Australia that may assist you.
      Kind regards,
      Charlene
      charlenec@spectronics.com.au

      • Lesley Diggins says:

        My husband had a brain abscess 5years ago since when his speech has deteriorated greatly. Is there an App that he could use to explain what he is trying to say. His spelling has also suffered.
        We have tried an American course which helped him to start with but not now.
        Any advice would be so welcome please.
        Lesley

        • Charlene Cullen says:

          Hi Lesley,
          There are many apps that may be able to assist your husband to communicate. You can read about some of our favourites here:
          http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac
          Do you have a speech language pathologist that you can talk to about options? An assessment would be a good start to help you narrow down the choices and get something based on his needs. I have also emailed you with information.
          Kind regards,
          Charlene

  3. Great choice of apps.The fact you use a reward chart to get the iPad is a great idea. As not only are your helping with their speech your always helping them understand actions an consequences. They get something right they get another circle on your board. Fantastic work, thanks for sharing with us and not just with your friend !

  4. Daniella says:

    do you recommend an app for a 2yrold whom has speech delay? I have heard there is one that has simple functions such as happy and sad faces, opposites etc. thanks.

    • Charlene Cullen says:

      There are many apps that may be able to assist your child to communicate. You can read about some of our favourites here:
      http://www.spectronicsinoz.com/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac
      Do you have a speech language pathologist that you can talk to about options? An assessment would be a good start to help you narrow down the choices and get something based on his needs.
      Regards,
      Charlene

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