Interactive Speech Therapy sessions to work on sentence building

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Developing the use of language needs to be motivating and meaningful. In recent years it has been very popular to work on language development within school and therapy settings using symbol prompts, often with a Colourful Semantics (developed by Alison Bryan) theme such as in the picture below.

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Using symbols has lots of potential for helping reinforce many actions and sentence structures but it’s easy to get stuck for ways to practise using them.

Here are some apps I’ve used successfully to liven up a group or 1:1 session while using symbols (e.g. as above) as a visual support. All of them can be used in a functional and interactive small group session by giving each other instructions or describing what someone else has done.

 

Finger paint with sounds (free).  One of the many free painting apps which can be used to tell each what to draw or paint e.g. Clare paint a yellow house. This one has sounds as you draw.

 

Pepi Bath (free). A fun free app with some drag and drop actions such as Wash Hands, Brush Teeth, Pour Washing powder, Hang Jumper.

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My PlayHome Lite (free version great and full version for £3.99).  Has a range of animated activities that you can action by dragging objects and people around different rooms. A wealth of Subject Verb Object actions to use expressively such as the Girl is Eating an Apple and the Mummy is Pouring Water.

 

Toca Kitchen Monsters (free). Two different monsters and several different foods and ways of cooking e.g. Monster is Frying a Tomato, Green Monster is cutting broccoli.

 

Discover Musical Instruments Free Admittedly some more specific vocabulary (bagpipes, drum, guitar) needed here but this is a lovely free app and telling each other which instrument to play can be a fun group activity. If you’ve got more than one iPad you could effectively set up a small orchestra.

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Toca Tea party (£2.99).  In the absence of actual party food, pretend or real, this is a great app for a virtual tea party with either toys or people. Tell each other what you want them to do e.g. Teddy drink juice, Peter pour tea, Katy give a plate to me.

 

Build a Train Lite (free). 

Potential for using some very simples phrases such as Beep Horn, Ring Bell, Stop, Go.

 

Puppet Pals (there is a lite version but directors pass £3.99 is worth it) I’m honestly not sponsored by this app but it really is so versatile. I’ve set it up with pictures of symbols and you can then set up little moving scenes of pretty much any action you want. I usually create the symbol on symbol software on my office PC, take a photo using the iPad and insert it into the app – only takes a few minutes before a session.

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Other apps worth mentioning…

 

First Phrases HD (lite version £0.99) A well designed app which allows you to select a SVO sentence and then produces a animated video to illustrate it at the end. One of the best ways I’ve found to use this is to click through the vocabulary choice bits and just show the video and ask a child to describe it. But that’s fairly fiddly. It’s not ideal for an interactive session.

 

Photo dice (free).  An app which can be used in practically any therapy session but worth mentioning here if you want to provide some unpredictability of actions or objects e.g. what is Dennis going to wear? The hat/gloves/scarf/glasses etc. Or what is Aisha going to do to the box? Stand/Sit/Jump/Throw etc?

 

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Developing language with your child: talking about family photos using Photo Buttons app

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The app has a number of pre-programmed photos of everyday food/transport etc. but I deselected them all and added in my own. I added several family photos and recorded my voice saying the name of each person. My daughter and I had fun pointing at the different family members as they appeared and talking about them as we popped each picture.

For more ideas for how to use apps with your child at home, click here.

Apps to inspire group storytelling activities in the classroom

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I’ve written blogs in the past focussing on different storytelling apps which allow you to create a story from scratch using your own pictures and words. But how about when children have difficulty coming up with ideas themselves or have difficulty retrieving the right words to use?

There are many apps that can be used to motivate children with their narrative skills through characters, pictures or sounds. When stories are developed in groups, children can motivate each other and focus on listening as well as expressive skills.

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All the apps below are free unless otherwise stated. If using as a whole class activity, don’t forget to use a programme such as AirServer (see previous blog) so that the whole class can see the screen.

 

Story sound effects

storytimesoundsThere are lots of ways of using sound effects to inspire group narratives:

  • Start the story by agreeing on some characters and a scene (draw these out if possible!) Then play sounds one at a time and ask children to name them and volunteer ideas about what is happening in the story.
  • Take turns to say a sentence about the story based on the sound you have just heard and then choose a sound for the next person to describe.

Story time sounds is a great app with clear categories e.g. pirates or monsters, each with colourful pictures to choose from.
Movie Sound Effects has words instead of pictures and contain many sound effects in SciFi/Action/Comedy/Cartoon categories.

See previous blog for ideas of random sound effects to incorporate into stories.


Setting the scene

Some apps let you choose the scene and characters and allow you to move them around to create mini movies. The three shown below also have inbuilt recording facilities.

Puppet Pals (free lite version or £3.99 Directors Pass allowing you to add your own photos). I’ve done a previous blog on using this in class group activities so won’t add more here except to say it’s one of my favourite apps for stimulating expressive language and the combination of photos and fantasy characters can be a great source of inspiration for a wide range of ages!

Superhero HD Comic Book Maker and Princess Fairy Tale Maker by Duck Duck Moose have a large range of backdrops and characters to include in stories. Pick your scene, choose your characters and record the story as you move them around.


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Using story frameworks

Some apps are set up precisely for the purpose of group story telling. Easy to adapt for a classroom activity.

Story Wheel Lite has different themes e.g. Knights and Princesses/Space etc. It is set up for more than one player – each takes turns to spin the wheel and record a few words or phrases about the picture they are allocated. At the end all scenes can be merged.

Story Dice (£1.99) allows you to roll as many dice as you choose, each with drawings on from which you can obtain prompts to include in a story. More abstract pictures, might work well for older children.

img_1248Tell a tale provides the first line of the story, three random pictures and then the final line. Definitely one for older/secondary children.

Sound effect apps: using the iPad to develop your child’s listening skills

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Use of an iPad/tablet doesn’t just need to involve watching the screen. You can also use it to develop listening skills which are a crucial element of language development. There are hundreds of sound based apps which could be adapted for a What’s That Sound? game with your child at home and some are adaptable for pretty much any age.

img_1232A few suggested free sound effect apps are listed below in categories.

Some ideas for how to play:

  1. Which picture? Play the sound first, then
    show your child the screen and see if they can pick the right picture. Next, swap round and it’s your turn to guess.
  2. Name that sound! Play the sound and see if your child can name it.
  3. Where is it? Play the sound of a household object (e.g. tap running) and ask your child to go and find the source of that sound in the house.
  4. What does it sound like? Play the sound (especially if your child doesn’t know what it is) and try and describe it using as many adjectives as you can.

 

Animal and transport:

I Hear Ewe is a great store of animal and transport sounds with pictures. Make sure you go to settings to turn off the verbal descriptions! https://appsto.re/gb/sSbis.i

SoundTouchLite is similar to I Hear Ewe and the lite version has animal and transport sounds but you can pay to unlock more. https://appsto.re/gb/hyBRv.iimg_1228

Animal Sounds Farm Jungle Forest Voices for Kids has a wider range of animal photos rather than cartoons as with the previous two. And a good one for guessing games as the selected picture does not become enlarged when you click on it. https://appsto.re/gb/ekG2db.i

In the Box is a listening game which can be played independently – the child must touch the box and listen to the sound, then guess which animal it corresponds to. A great idea but I got it wrong when asked to identify a giraffe… https://appsto.re/gb/MVOCI.i

 

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Discover Musical Instruments Free is a long time favourite of mine – photos of several different instruments which play a tune when selected. Note: you need to turn the iPad on its side to access the grid with many different instruments displayed. https://appsto.re/gb/Bckey.i

 Shake Musics is a great variation on this where you have to shake the iPad to create a sound. https://appsto.re/gb/VJO6G.i

 

General sound effects:

SoundEffects has a limited free range of human and outdoor sounds and allows you to record a few of your own. (as opposed to Sound Effects which had too many pop up adverts for my liking). https://appsto.re/gb/3Nqxx.i

100 Button Sounds Has a wide range of buttons including church bells, can opening and animal sounds but you do have to put up with quite a few adverts. https://appsto.re/gb/o3rg-.i

www.freesoundeffects.com is a website rather than an app but has hundreds of different sounds such as ‘creaky door’ and ‘footsteps walking on gravel’. Doesn’t have pictures but does have excellent descriptions of sounds e.g. ‘Garbage truck, hissing of hydraulics, clanging of metal’. It might give you some inspiration for talking about the sound that you hear!

 

Ten speech therapy activities which can be enhanced with an iPad

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  1. Warm up games. Try Air Hockey (free). No pressure to talk, easy to play, requires someone else to play with you and surprisingly addictive.

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  1. Visual Timetables. My favourite is First Then Visual Schedule HD (£7.99), which allows you to insert google images very easily. Makes a change from printing and laminating.

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  1. Informal assessment. Use a range of apps to stimulate informal talking and receptive language. Favourite apps to stimulate expressive language are Imagistory (free) or creating a spontaneous story using Puppet Pals and photos of the child. My favourite receptive assessments involve Keyword Understanding (£6.99 or free lite version) and Toca Kitchen Monsters (free).

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  1. Setting expectations of a session. Use Sand Timer (Free) or ASD tools timer (£1.49) to show how long an activity is going to last. Also use goal setting apps such as Simple Goals (free) for older children to record what they are working towards.

 

  1. Trialling AAC. Easy to take photos and give choices on the spot rather than having to ask about favourite items, take photos then go away and laminate… Use ChoiceBoard Creator (free) or TalkBoard (free) for basic grids to practice with.

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  1. Oro-motor assessments. Dress up an oro-motor assessment as a motivating activity using Bla Bla Bla (free) and Speak Up Too (free) for visual feedback.

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  1. Parent Child Interaction. Not sure how we ever managed video PCI without iPads – video it, play it back to the parent and if necessary, reassure them that you are deleting it in front of them. Also use for informal, spontaneous feedback e.g. during a swallow assessment.

 

  1. Talking about what has just happened. An immediate record of the session you’re in. Talk about doing something, do it and talk about what you did with visual prompts. Saves you going away to print photos.

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  1. Taking photos of plans, sessions, child’s work. An easy way of referring back to previous sessions – whether paintings that were made or stories which were created. If the app doesn’t store creations, take a screenshot by holding down the home button and then pressing the on/off button. The image will appear in Photos.

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  1. Inspiring parents to carry on activity at home. A lot of parents are worried that they don’t know what apps to download for their children and are keen for ideas. If they can see their child engaged with an activity with you, they’re more likely to try it at home.

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Not just a reward strategy: using iPads interactively to develop communication

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I gave a ‘Lightning Talk’ at Therapy Ideas Live in London last week and I’ve promised to put a list of the apps recommended on this blog. In my allocated 5 minutes, I discussed an app for a few different areas of language target that you could work on in therapy sessions – thinking mainly about social and functional uses of language e.g. telling stories and telling jokes.

You can see a video of the talk here.

Suggested apps were as follows:

scene and heardIntroducing Ourselves. Scene and Heard Lite (free)

 

choice boardMaking Choices. Choiceboard Creator (free)

 

Expressing Opinions. Talking Mats (lite version =talkingmat free)

 

ipad cameraSending Messages. Video function – no apps needed.

 

Giving Instructions. Cake Doodle (£0.79)cake doodle

 

Sharing Experiences. Photo Grid (free)photo grid

 

Telling Stories. Puppet Pals (free, £1.99 storytimesoundspuppetpalsfor adding your own photos), Story Time Sounds (free)

 

Telling Jokes. Knock Knock Numbers (£2.29)jokes1

 

tea partyHosting Others. Toca Tea Party (£2.49)

 

Asking Questions. Guess the Person (free)guesswho

 

Problem Solving. Faces iMake (£2.29)face2

 

air hockey2Initiating a Game. Air Hockey (free)

 

flip flapWord Play. Flip Flap Farm (£0.79)