Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lego Creationary and Other Lego Apps

Most of my students in first grade through the 3rd or 4th grade (or higher) really enjoy Legos.  I set out to find apps that incorporated Legos to use as a motivator and possible social skills app. Here are a few that I plan to use as motivators or supplements to other goals/activities.

Lego Creationary is a FREE app!  For this app, students need to roll a dice by tapping it.  Each side of the dice has different categories: nature, buildings, vehicles, etc.  Four options within that category are then presented in the corners of the screen (ex: vehicles: firetruck, police car, car, bike).  Next, blocks begin to appear and 'build' an item.  The job of the student is to identify which item is being built. Essentially, the student needs to look at the items in the corner and compare with the item being built.  The faster you guess, the better your score will be.  I use this app as a follow-up activity to a more structured lesson targeting a similar skill, such as comparing/contrasting items.
Some examples of Goals:
  • Comparing/Contrasting: students will need to be able to quickly compare/contrast the item being built to the choices. Other key concepts: similarities and differences. Before the game begins, the student and clinician can look at the 4 choices to identify how they are similar/different.
  • Making Predictions: Have a pre-discussion about making predictions and 'best guesses' well as, it is ok to guess and not always be correct.  Students can also explain why they chose a certain item.
  • Social Skills: This would be a fun app for a social skills group.  You could play as a group and work on coming to a quick group decision (would have to be VERY quick) or you could take turns, similar to round robin activities.   If taking turns, the peers could help the student by giving clues and serving as an 'extra pair of eyes'. 
What is Nice:
  • Most students know about or enjoy Legos...students who might otherwise not have common interests with a friend/peer might be able to enjoy this game and have more to talk about during a conversation. This app can also serve as an 'ice breaker' for social groups.
What I Wish I Could Change:
  • Slow down the settings, some students might have difficulty with the fast pace.
  • Allow for the screen to freeze after the item is finished building so that we could spend more time discussing similarities/differences.  
  • Also, some students might have difficulty as the items being built are in Lego form, while the pictures resemble more of a cartoon some students may have difficulty comparing these two.

Some Other Apps by Lego
Lego Minifigures
Free. Create Lego people (head, body, legs). It says you can collect the people or share with others; however, I haven't found a way to collect the people that the students make...the 'collection' is for real legos. You could easily get around this by taking screen shots of the lego people that a student makes.  I originially thought you could slide the pieces and make your own can not.  You push the slider button on the bottom and it operates like a slot machine. Students could slide the button and then would need to describe their Lego person (name, what the person looks like, what the person might do, etc).  Students could also write short stories about their Lego people. You could print the screen shots and do a lesson on comparing/contrasting as well.  I also thought perhaps I might print a bunch of small pictures of the different possibilities (yes, that would mean I would need to do a ton of prep work and take many screen shots)...then the students would describe a lego person and a peer would need to identify who they were talking about (like an I Spy activity).

Lego Duplo Farm Friends: Free. Duplo figures on farm scenes...see what the figurines can do. More for younger children. Kind of a so-so app...I will probably delete this one as it doesn't serve a purpose for my age range.  For younger children, you could make predictions about what the items 'might do'.

Lego Photo: Free. Take a picture with the in-app camera, watch your photo be built in Legos.  Maybe an app that is 'just for fun' at the end of the session or as a reward?

Deleting Apps By Accident?

Have you ever had an app that was deleted by accident? This can easily happen, especially if multiple students are using an iPad.  Here is how you can prevent that from happening.
  1. Go to Settings, make sure you are under the General category (along left side of menu).
  2. Select 'Restrictions' (about the 5th menu bubble down from the top).
  3. You will be prompted to enter a passcode, if this is your first time doing this...pick a 4 digit number that you will remember.
  4. Look down to 'Deleting Apps'...switch the slider button to OFF (yes it must be OFF).
  5. Apps can NOT be deleted now!  When you hold an app down to put them into jiggle mode, there will no longer be the option to delete it.

Now....perhaps you installed an app and don't care for do you delete it?  Just reverse the process. Go into Settings, select Restrictions, enter your passcode, and switch the slider button to YES under Deleting Apps.  This will let you delete apps again.  Make sure to go back and disable this feature though when you are finished deleting apps before letting students use the iPad again!!!

**I will add some screen shots soon of this process...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sunny Articulation Phonology Test

WOW!!!  The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test is a very comprehensive and impressive app that can be used for screening, evaluation, and baseline data. It was developed by a Speech/Language Pathologist.  The first feature I liked was that it included a manual.  The manual explains exactly how to use the app with instructions and screenshots. There is also information on interpretation of results and frequently asked questions.

The Test:
  • You begin by adding your student data just as you would for a regular automatically calculates the student's age, which was a nice feature!   It also stores the date, so if you administer the test fore pre- and post-therapy, you can easily pull up data. It is very easy to add student data and keep records for multiple students.
  • After you enter the basic information, tap "new" to begin will be prompted to choose a "Full Evaluation" or "Screening".  
  • All images are of good size and clarity and are presented on a white background. An auditory model can be provided for the student by tapping the picture.  You can also record the student's production by tapping the small 'record' button in the top left corner (grey circle with red middle). The target word is printed phonetically on the top of the screen.  You can flip the print (so the child is looking at the picture and the clinician can read the word) by touching the 2 arrows in the right corner. There is a 'home' button that returns you to the home screen.  A super feature....if your session ends mid-screen, you can tap the home button.  During the next session, simply select the student record and you will return to the last item that was being tested.  Each target screen also has a 'notes' button where you can type any additional notes (voice quality, atypical patterns, etc).  My FAVORITE feature....If the student misses a target sound (ex: /s/ initial), you can tap on the green phonetic symbol and it will be recorded as an error!  Fantastic! Additionally, in the full evaluation mode, when you mark an item as an error, a menu will instantly pop up and you can select if the item was deleted, substituted, etc.  If you selected substituted, another menu will pop up and you can select the substituted phoneme.  Nice!  This is later displayed in the results section.
  • The Screening has 30 total words, with 65 phonemes. This is a rather nice amount of target words for a screening!  
  • The Full Assessment has 46 total words, with 103 phonemes. 
  • After the assessment, simply tap "Result".  You will be asked to select an overall intelligibility rating. This will return you to a data screen.  Tap on the record with the date of administration that you would like to see. From there you can view the results based on: word position, manner, and voicing.  You can also display the results based on the word list...correct targets appear in green and phonemes in error appear in red.
  • To print or email the results, select the desired record in the home screen.  Next, tap the "+" sign.  A menu will appear for: Review Notes, E-mail Results, Review Audio Recordings, and Print Results.

What do I Like?
  • Very professional appearance and comprehensive are provided clear and easy instructions on how to use the test/app. 
  • The amount of stimulus targets for the screening and the full evaluation is quite impressive.  The screening version has as many targets as some full evaluations, but still only takes a short amount of time to complete.
  • Students will be VERY motivated to take this test. 
  • The pictures are clear, large, and presented on a white background (no visual distraction)
  • Each time you advance to the next target, various positive reinforcement in different voices is provided ("Great job!" "Super!" etc.)
  • Easy to score targets...simply tap the green phonemes if the target is missed. 
  • Note-taking: You can easily take additional notes...there is no need for separate pen/paper. 
  • Record option, and you can later listen to each recorded stimulus.
  • Results are displayed clearly and in different ways...this is my favorite...I can switch from result to result with the tap of a button.
  • You can print results (air print or send a copy to email and print from your computer)
  • You can email the results as well.  A nice summary is automatically provided!
  • Lastly...I am a 'traveling therapist'...meaning I travel between locations.  I will no longer have to worry about transporting additional evaluation materials and record forms. I always have my iPad with me, so if I am meeting with a teacher or the parent for consultation, I can quickly bring up results.
Overall, I think this a really super test and is very user-friendly, is comprehensive, and it is a 'must-have' for SLP's!!!  It is priced at $49.99, which compared to standard articulation tests, is very modestly priced. For initial qualification criteria however, a test with normative data via such as the GFTA-2, will still be necessary.  What I really like is the feature to store data and have it easily available for IEP development and meetings.  It will be a great tool for comparing results and measuring progress.   I also found another review of this app that indicated it correlates well with the GFTA-2 (click here for the link).

Screenshots from the User's Manual
(**NOTE: click on the screenshots to enlarge them)

Screenshots of Stimulus Pictures

Screenshots of a sample student record that I created:

Great Job Smarty Ears!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


In my best haunted Halloween voice, there are some 'SpooktAPPular' apps for Fall and Halloween!  There are also some that are not so spectacular...I'll list those as well in hopes others won't waste time installing/deleting.  As Fall goes along, I'll add new apps that I find to this try checking back!

Currently in My App Bucket of Treats!

Treat Street: $1.99  Love this app! It is like role play for trick or treating! You start by picking a costume (tap on character's head/body/feet).  Walk along the street and tap a house to go trick or treating. Knock on the door or ring the doorbell! Collect Candy! Touch items for cause/effect reactions (owl = hoots, pumpkin = giggles). Organize your treats! Useful for:
  • Describing and designing costumes
  • Describing Street Scenes
  • Sequencing: students can tell steps for trick or treating (list/draw on paper, etc), play the game, and review the sequence of steps.
  • Social Stories: talk about skills needed to go trick or treating, pair this app with actual role play (use the video camera to tape), talk about expected/unexpected behaviors for Halloween

Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle: $.99  This book has some nice features, one of which is that you can record your own voice reading or retelling the story.  You must also search for ghosts and complete puzzles along the way.  Another nice feature is that many pages feature a picture scene which could be used for an "I Spy" activity. Useful for:
Story retelling: listen to the book in narration mode, or go to the settings and opt to record your own voice...which could be useful for having students retell the story in their own words.

123 Sticker: $1.99 (discussed in previous blog). Pick the Halloween screen and go crazy decorating.  Useful for:
  • following directions, 
  • basic concepts/conceptual terms/spatial and temporal concepts, 
  • writing a Halloween story, 
  • formulating and/or writing descriptive sentences or sentences with specific targets (verbs, nouns, adjectives), and
  • any other goals you can think of!

Carve a Pumpkin by Parents: $.99 by Parents Magazine. I looked at several 'carve your own pumpkin' apps and chose this one based on the price and 'realness' of the pumpkins.  You can select from a variety of pumpkins of different colors.  You can hand carve it OR pick from categories (eyes, noses, mouths, etc).  You can also do a pre-made design, like a spider web. You can change the size of the features too.  I like it...not bad for $.99 and it wasn't as basic/simple-looking as the other choices.  Useful for:
  • following directions ("put the nose in the middle of the pumpkin" etc),
  • sequencing: tell the steps to carving a pumpkin with some pre-discussion as well
  • basic concepts/conceptual terms/spatial and temporal concepts, 
  • writing a story about the pumpkin,
  • formulating and/or writing descriptive sentences or sentences with specific targets (verbs, nouns, adjectives),
  • any other goals you can think of!

Scary Wordfind: Free. Has 3 levels: easy, medium, hard. You must find Halloween words from a word bank (with pictures).  Useful for: incentives or discussion about Halloween vocabulary or Halloween associations ("How does 'spider web' go with Halloween?")

On My List to Buy or Install
Halloween Stickers HD
Wood Puzzle Halloween
I SPY Spooky Mansion
Mickey's Spooky Night Puzzle Book
The Legend of Spookely the Square Pumpkin
Halloween Match Me
Hazy Dell HD
Halloween Match 'em Up for Kids

Just "OK" and Other Apps That I Am Not Crazy About!
SpookyCrayon: Free, and semi-worthwhile for my needs.  It's a coloring app. I'd rate it "Just OK"
SpookyPlaytime Lite: Free, and I definitely probably would not buy the app, it doesn't seem challenging enough.  There are different activities, like memory with a Halloween theme. Even for the pay version, it didn't seem like there was enough to do to warrant purchasing it.
Pumpkin Chunkin:  Free. I will be deleting this app, I didn't like it...too simplistic and no real purpose for 'chuck' pumpkins back and forth.
Pumpkin Maker:  Free.  I probably will delete this app as it as not as nice as my other app for making pumpkins.
The Very Hungry Pumpkin: Free. You drag a pumpkin around the screen to eat need to avoid monsters. I'll delete this one as well...just not my favorite.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Create a Car

Create a Car is an app that I bought for $.99. You essentially build a car.  You can save your 'cars' to your own garage as well. Once you are finished building your car, you must save it to your can then touch a 'key' button to start the engine and watch the moving parts.  The cool factor with this app is the building process...there are TONS of parts to choose from and some of them are pretty wild!  For example, for an engine, you can choose from options like: nuclear power exchanger, solar turbo inducer, power engine, solar gain fin, etc.  This is the language factor that I love!  Great opportunities to discuss and use descriptive words.  It also presents great opportunities to ask higher level thinking questions, such as: "Why do you think they named it the solar turbo inducer?  What do those words mean to you?"  or "Why did you pick the nuclear power exchanger?"  If students are not at that vocabulary level, we simply don't use those terms and describe the parts based on appearance.
This app is an example of an app that could stand alone as the activity for the session or across multiple sessions.  There is a lot that can be done language-wise with this app. I can address:
  • basic and advanced car vocabulary, parts, etc
  • sequencing: what steps will we need to do?
  • higher level wh- questions:
    • What would you like your car to look like when it is finished? (pre-discusion)
    • Why did you pick _____ part?
    • Why didn't you pick ______ part?
    • What would happen if you didn't add wheels?
    • What will happen if you don't add an engine?  
    • etc.
  • writing activities:  write a step-by-step list of how you built your vehicle, write descriptive sentences about your vehicle
  • comparing/contrasting: use venn diagrams to compare/contrast 2 vehicles from the garage, put into sentences
  • social language and pragmatics: work on building a car as a team or with a partner, target concepts such as teamwork, being flexible in thought, and using/understanding non-verbal communication to select car parts, etc.
I am sure there are dozens of other goals as well!!!


Geared is a FREE app that is wonderful for logic and reasoning skills. There are various levels to work through.  There is always one moving gear and one stationary gear (gear A and B) and you must build a bridge (other gears) to connect them.  Once connected, all of the gears will spin.  To add more challenge, there are slider boxes that you must move in order to drop a gear into place.

How does this app apply to therapy or the classroom?  This app is a great example of higher level thinking skills, analyzing problems, trying multiple strategies until you find a solution, and sometimes...teamwork.  This app can be played individually, with a partner, or even in a group.  At the group level, roles/jobs can be given to each player OR the group can work together on forming a plan of action.  This app is also 'geared' towards trial and error...most players will not likely create the correct bridge on the first attempt at each level.  With students, I emphasize that it is ok to try a may or may not work.  I also make sure to model mistakes and asking for help.  I have also used this app for students who need practicing appropriate reactions to 'small problems'..."misplacing a gear is a small problem and small problems are ok."

As mentioned, this app addresses higher level thinking, so this is a great app for students who need a challenge! It also is popular with students in the middle school age range.  I have found this app useful for students who still need to work on goals, yet might need a challenging incentive during therapy to keep them motivated.  With these students, I make the student responsible for tracking what level they are on from week to week, etc.  For older students, I have also tried teams...each small group picks a team name and we track what level the team is on.  If a team gets stuck, other teams are allowed to write tips/notes on my whiteboard or they can ask each other at lunch (which they do).  Again, as with all apps, this app is merely an incentive or a 'follow up' to a more structured speech and/or language session. Typically, I use this app when I am targeting logic and reasoning.

To target expressive language, I have the students verbally explain and justify the steps and strategies they use for each turn.  This is also great for addressing sequencing skills.  We talk a great deal (and I model sentences) about planning out what we need to do first and why, etc. I also model what I did wrong during a mistake and why it did not work.

Directions and Tips for Use:
  • Select a level from the Main menu.  There are 80 total levels.   You do not need to unlock the levels. 
  • The gears you have in your tool box are displayed along the bottom of the screen...they vary in size and number. 
  • The gears that you can use or place are shaded gray when placed; however, when dragging them around the screen, they appear mint green.  There are also red shaded boxes on the screen...these are zones where you can not drop a must drag the gear above the box and let it drop down.
 For this screen shot, I dragged the gear above the red box and then dropped it.

This screen shot shows the purple shaded 'slider box'.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Names in a Hat

Names in a Hat is a recent app that I purchased for $.99.  It is designed for the iPhone, so you will need to increase the size if using this app on the iPad. I purchased Names in a Hat with the specific desire to have an app that can be used to randomly generate specific targets.  The app was designed to randomly select names, which it could still be used for in a small group or classroom setting.  Here is how I plan to use it (at least a few ideas):
Articulation: Generate lists of target words (can be specific to student...can even generate the lists with the student during the session as a form of practice).  After the list is generated, the student taps the screen and a target word will appear.
Language: Very similar to my above procedure...I will select whatever target I am addressing for that session or student...create my word list...and begin practice!

Truly, this is another universal app that can be adapted for ANY goal...math facts, story starters, unit spelling words or new vocabulary words, synonyms/antonyms, quick break exercises (do 5 jumping jacks or take 2 deep breaths), etc.  This app would work very well when targeting skills in a small group or 'round robin' style activity where students pass the iPad in a circle/group and take turns practicing a skill. It is also a great app because it is quick...I can foresee being able to squeeze in many repetitions during a session.  If a student finishes their session work early or finishes a class assignment early, this is a great app for quick practice of other skills.

Here are some screen shots of current goals/targets that I have already created.

Index of some of the lists I have created

From my "Listing Items in Groups" category

 From my "/r/ initial" for articulation

 From my "Wh- Questions" category