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.

air hockey 

 

 

 

  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.

visual schedule

 

 

 

 

  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).

imagistory

 

 

 

 

  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.

talkboard

 

 

 

 

  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.

speak up too

 

 

 

 

 

 

  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.

ipad camera 2

 

 

 

  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.

 doodlecast

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)

 

 

Speech and language group activities using art and craft iPad apps

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Following on from my blog on using cooking apps, here’s some ideas for using art based apps to stimulate functional language and talking with small groups of children – ideal for school based language groups.

 

Describing what someone else has done

doodlecastDoodlecast (£2.29) is a motivating app for annotating pictures which records a video of the drawing process. Take a photo of each other or something in the room or use one of the inbuilt templates. Ask the first child to draw a picture. As you replay the video of this, take turns to describe what that person did e.g. “then she drew some flowers next to the tree” “then she drew some glasses on my face.”

 

Planning and team work 

Faces iMake (£2.29). A great team work task for primary age – ask children to make quirky faces with a range of basic and more complex vocabulary from lollipops and bananas to violins or chess pieces. Lots of opportunities for different levels of language from frequently used to less common words. Also opportunities for practising categorisation. Set the children a task such as “make a face from yellow and green fruit” or “make a face from toys”. There’s also a surprisingly catchy theme tune which you find yourself humming after a while…

funny face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to others

Colouring in apps work well when supporting children to listen to instructions from others.

Splash of Colour (£0.79) has lots of colouring in templates included and for younger children Peppa’s Paintbox (free) has a theme or background pictures to insert. There is lots of scope for giving simple instructions that your child needs to listen to and follow e.g. “colour the box blue” or “put some flowers next to Peppa.”

It is possible to do these activities with children who are not very familiar with colour words by asking them to colour in particular parts of a picture but not specifying a colour.

Don’t forget to take turns giving each other instructions so your child gets practice in directing as well as listening!

tractor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Functional language activities using food and cooking apps

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We use language in a variety of ways in our everyday lives – to start conversations, to give opinions, to tell jokes, to persuade people to our point of view, to make other people feel better and to criticise something we do not like. Working with all children, especially those who have Autism, it’s important to think about how we are giving them the opportunity to generalise language skills in lots of different practical situations.

There are lots of food and cookery based apps available. Here are some ideas for how to use them to support meaningful language skills.

toca monsters Giving instructions to others with Toca Kitchen Monsters (free). A lovely app for giving simple instructions to direct others. Take turns to choose an action e.g. “boil the broccoli”, “fry the steak”, “blend the lemon.” At a basic level, you can encourage the child to give one word instructions e.g. the type of food (e.g. tomato/mushroom/sausage) or the cooking process (e.g. blend/boil/fry/chop). This could work as a paired or group activity.monster

 

cake doodle

Teaching someone what to do with Cake Doodle (£0.79). Similar to above but emphasising the skill of giving coherent instructions step by step. The ability to describe steps in a logical way form a key foundation skill for developing narrative. The child can ask what type of cake you would like to make and then tell you all the steps for what to do e.g. “first you squash the banana, then break the egg, then pour the sauce.” Alternatively, make the cake first and ask the child to tell you what they did.

cake

 

tea partyAsking people about their preferences with Toca tea party (£2.49). 

Finding out what someone would like to eat or drink is a basic social skill. In Toca Tea party, you can set the place for three people and encourage the child to ask others what they would like to eat and drink. Chosen drinks and food can be dragged into the correct place.

teaparty

Using your iPad for story telling with your child using free apps

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imagistoryNarrative skills are an essential part of children’s language development. Young children learn to structure stories and put events in sequence by talking about things they have done and seen. These skills support their ability to create their own imaginative stories as their talking develops.

Below are some ideas for (mostly) free apps which you can use to support your child’s narrative and story telling skills from a very early language stage onwards. Some of them allow you to record a story bit by bit and play it back at the end and others provide visual prompts to help you let your imagination run wild!

 

Story Creator  story creator

How to use: This app can help develop a child’s story telling skills by supporting them to retell stories of things that have happened. Whenever you are having an exciting day out or doing something interesting at home, think about taking photos/videos on the iPad and creating a story about it afterwards. Make up a story when you get back and tell another family member astorycreatorbout what you saw or play them your recording.

  • Click on the + and Add New Story.
  • Give the story a name and add a photo for the front cover.
  • Click on Add new page symbol to add new pictures to the story.
  • Click on the microphone picture to add a recording.

 

Imagistoryimagistory

How to use: This is a wordless picture book to encourage you and your child to make up a story yourselves.

  • Click on Create and choose one of the two free stories available.
  • You can either fill in your name and take a photo first, or just go to Quiet Read to start the story.
  • Talk about what is happening and swipe left to move between pages.
  • Read the story again and again and use new words each time!

imagistory1imagist2

 

 

 

 

storytime sounds

Story Time Sounds

How to use: This is a great resource of sound effects which you can incorporate into youstorytimesoundsr stories. A motivating resource for story telling and a few prompts to help develop the plot…

  • Choose a category e.g. Space, Lost World etc.
  • Choose a sound to mark the beginning of your story.
  • Take turns to choose a sound and say what is happening next using that sound!

 

puppet palsPuppet pals

Cost: free for basic version/ £1.99 to add your own photos

How to use: You can use this app to make up a story about you, your child and fictional characters at the same time. You can record the story while moving the characters around on the screen.

  • Either choose ‘actors’ from the menu or click on ‘Add actor from photo.’
  • Choose a background scene (you can also Add backdrop from photo).
  • Use the scale in the bottom left hand corner to make the picture fill the screen and move the characters about.
  • Click the red button to record a story and save to the iPad using the disk symbol.

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Suggestions for activities:

  • Take photos of you, your child and your home. Create a movie about something you have been doing that week.
  • Make a short movie to show your child and then let them do the talking.
  • Make up a story using photos of your child’s favourite toys.
  • Dress up and take photos of yourselves, then make them into a movie that you can show other people.

 

story wheelStory Wheel Lite

How to use: This ‘Spin the Wheel’ app allows you to record a story and helps you decide on a character to talk about next. You can use this app as a tool for creating stories with more than one person.

  • storywheel Click on Create a Story. You will need to fill in your names before you continue.
  • Select a theme from Pirates, Story Teller, Knights and Princesses etc.
  • The first person spins the wheel to show a character.
  • Record a short sentence or two about this character as the first part of the story.
  • Press Next Player and spin again.
  • When you have completed creating a story, press Done
  • Say Yes to saving and then Listen to Story.

iPad apps using preposterous pictures and ridiculous words to encourage talking

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Bizarre situations are brilliant for inspiring conversation among children so I had a look for apps which incorporate this kiflip flap 2nd of theme. Flip flap farm (£0.99) is an app which tells you what would happen if a number of farm animals were combined with others e.g. a pig + mouse is a Pouse and a goat + turkey is a Gurkey. As well as the whimsical aspect of it, the emphasis on making up words and word play is another great way to develop language skills.

You can swipe both the top and bottom halves of the animal to create a new creature. There’s a poem to go with it but there’s also a ‘read by myself’ setting which might work better if you’re trying to talk about it together with your child. After you’ve shown your child a few different examples, try and pick two animals and guess what the combined word is going to be. Encourage your child to play around with the word and have fun coming up with weird and outlandish ideas.

Another similar app is Herd Absurd (free) which allows you to blend three different animals into one but doesn’t give them a name like in Flip Flap Farm. See if you can concoct some words yourselves!

herd absurd

Look out for other apps which create ridiculous pictures or scenarios – they will always give you something to talk about!

Using interactive iPad apps for early language assessment

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I’m a big fan of interactive apps (and indeed books or games) that encourage children to comment spontaneously on what is happening. The Wonderkind zooToddler’s Seek and Find apps were a recent discovery on the iPad of a friend’s toddler. The free ones (Animal Circus, My Zoo Animals, My Little Town) are all pretty good and give you plenty to work with even though not all of the scenes are available unless you pay a bit more. A bit like My PlayHome, they are all interactive scenes. You can’t move the characters around but when you touch them, something happens e.g. the camel spits at the man, the woman flips a pancake etc.

I particularly like the range of activities that happen as even a child with only a few basic words will be able to say something about it.

I regularly use this kind of app in informal assessments with preschool children, especially when formal assessments are not appropriate because of attention span or level. They could also work well for the younger primary ages. I keep the apps in the same folder on the iPad and asmorning townk the child to choose one. I then demonstrate a few of the the activities and talk about them simply – usually the child follows my lead and starts doing the same. Be warned – you can’t usually move on to another activity until they have had a chance to activate every single element of each scene.