Sunday, January 23, 2011

Speechy Sunday: iPad/iPod Apps for Language Therapy

Today I'm going to review a few apps that I enjoy using for language therapy.

To review, my ratings will be on a scale of 1-5 stars,  with
1 = Waste of Time, 
2 = I've seen worse, 
3 = Okay, 
4 = Better than many,  and 
5 = Amazing App.

1.  Cookie Doodle by Shoe the Goose -  5 Stars  ($. 99)
I can't say enough about this app!  I just love it!   I keep finding new ways to use it in therapy.  It's basically an interactive simulation of making cookies.   It's interactive in that it involves shaking, tilting, tapping, pinching, etc., to follow the recipe to create the dough, and then rolling, cutting, baking, and decorating to create the cookie masterpieces.  Also, after the students make a cookie, they can "eat" it, which is very satisfying, even for my upper elementary students.   I've used this app to address language goals for sequencing, verb vocabulary, verb tenses, food vocabulary, following directions, commenting, rejecting, recalling steps in a process, answering wh- questions, and writing.   (I've also used it for generalization phases of articulation and fluency therapy, but that's another post in itself.)   For the money, I am amazed at all the use I get out of this app.
several cookies from my Cookie Doodle Cookie Jar

a "2" shaped cookie that has been eaten a bit

2.  Proloquo2Go -   3 Stars  ($189.99)
When I first got my iPad, everyone told me that I needed to use Proloquo.  Basically, this app is like having a gazillion voice output AAC devices and with premade communication boards instantly at your fingertips, without all the hard work involved in learning the device.  This app has the potential to be very useful for use with children who are nonverbal or emergent language learners.  Unfortunately, I don't currently have any children at this language level on my caseload, so I've used this app in ways other than what it was likely designed for.  I've mostly used as a visual prompt system for students who need ideas for what to talk about in different situations.

Regardless of how you use it, though, I think it would be easiest to jump in to Proloquo2Go using the "categories" folder.  In the categories folder, there are preexisting communication boards that contain a variety of vocabulary for settings, topics, and activities such as "art time," bathroom," or "weather."  I specifically like the "comments" grid, which I've used as a visual cue for some of my clients who are working on social skills like commenting in a group setting.  I also like the "feelings" grid, which I've used with a few of my students with autism when I wanted a good feelings/emotions word-bank with icons quickly at my fingertips.  I only gave this app 3 stars because of its high price and because sometimes I have trouble following the organization of the folders.  However, compared to other AAC voice output devices (which can run in the thousands of dollars), this app is cheap, and pretty intuitive.   I think back to my first experiences with AAC devices (can you say, not so intuitive?), and think that had Proloquo2Go been available back then, I wouldn't have been quite so intimidated by getting started with AAC.  

Best of all, I just love the way this app says, "Kway-suh-dill-uh" for quesadilla.   It's not perfect, but it's a nice place to start for an easily accessible voice output device.

3.  Princess iSticker Lite -  3 stars (Free)
I downloaded this app over my winter break and have enjoyed using it with some of the third grade girls on my caseload.  It's basically a computerized sticker book featuring princesses and princess accessories.  I use this app to work on goals such as:  following multistep directions (ex:  Put a princess in the ballroom and then add a cake by the window.), spatial concepts (ex:  Put the prince under the rainbow, and move the raccoon beside the tree), vocabulary (ex:  stream, lake, hills, mountains, etc.), and to inspire students to write stories and imaginative narratives.  I find that starting with a blank scene is a nice way to inspire my students to describe the setting of their story with details, and that when we add princess/prince/animal stickers to the scene, it's a natural time to discuss introducing and describing characters in a story.  I've used this app as a reward for writing, as well, having students try to recreate a story using the sticker boards (this can be difficult if the story the student wrote was not about princesses, but you can be imaginative!).  I like that the app allows you to save the scenes you create to your iPhoto library, because I find that students enjoy having created such beautiful pictures themselves and want to print them to pair with their written work.  
Who let the animals into the ballroom?

4.  My Pictures Talk  by Grembe Inc.-  4 Stars  ($9.99)
This app allows you to use photos from your own iPhoto library and turn them into buttons that speak when you touch them when viewed through the My Pics Talk app.  I actually use this app on my iPhone, but I'm contemplating buying it again for use on my iPad.   I decided to buy it for my phone rather than my iPad because I can take photos with my iPhone camera and instantly use them with this app; whereas, it would require several steps to get photos into my iPad for use with My Pics Talk.  I think I've just scraped the tip of the iceberg in using this app to its fullest capability, but so far, I've used it to make social stories (walking in line, riding in the car), to create process instructions (making hot chocolate), to create personal info "interactive books" (ex:  The People in My Family), and just to scrapbook events and classroom activities for later speaking and writing activities (ex:  pumpkin patch field trip, Thanksgiving feast).  This app was relatively simple to learn to use, and I've really enjoyed using it for language therapy.  I've typically used it by recording my own voice to speak when a photo is touched; however, I think that the scrapbook feature lends itself to having students record their own voices.   (I also this it could be used with articulation and fluency clients as part of generalization and self-monitoring activities.)    What I haven't yet figured out is a good way to send the finished product to anyone else.  So, we enjoy our creations in the therapy room, but I would much rather share them with family and teachers via e-mail.  (Right now, it seems to send them as separate photo and sound files rather than a photo that produces the sound file when clicked, which I would prefer.) Anyway, if I figure the sharing piece out, I'll be sure to share my wisdom!

5.  Word Girl - Word Hunt -   3 Stars    ($ . 99)
This is a cute app starring PBS's Word Girl.  I've used this app for narrative structure lessons, with the added benefit that we can work on vocabulary and sequencing skills.  Word Girl is a secret superhero who defeats bad guys with her powerful vocabulary skills.  I like this game because it presents simple stories told aloud that all include a problem and a successful attempt to solve the problem.  After the initial scene is set up, the app switches to "quiz mode" and asks the player what the character should do to solve the problem.  Then it provides a multiple choice question "quiz" in which the player is to choose between three different options (verbs) regarding what the character should do to save the day.  If correct, the player moves immediately to a motivating game.   If incorrect, the app tells the child why that choice was wrong and to try again.  There is built in success here, because even when only one answer choice is left, the app still asks the player to choose the best answer and then says, "You're right!" and moves to the game.  The "word hunt" part of the game is played by simply tilting the iPad back and forth to move a flying Word Girl so that she catches the target word from the quiz ten times while trying to avoid flying into the bad guys.   I wish that the app said the vocabulary word she is catching along with a brief definition each time she catches it--it only says the word the first time, and the definition is only really provided once during the "quiz" section of the game.  I find myself pausing often and supplementing this game with extra language to help my students understand the story and cement the vocabulary.  I also wish the app allowed you to scroll backwards and re-watch the story game you just played.  Sometimes I'd like to review the story again immediately afterward, but so far, I haven't figured out a way to pick which story is played or to go backward within the stories. The Word Girl Word Hunt app contains many different stories, so this game can be repeated with the same students several times without losing its appeal.

So, there you have it--5 apps that I think are rather useful for language therapy.  

And now for the disclaimer:   The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should seek the advice of your health care provider regarding any questions you have. You should not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog. The Gladdest Thing Under the Sun disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on the information on this blog.  Ideas posted here are just general strategies that work for me, and should in no way to be taken as medical advice. If you have a child or grandchild who needs speech and language support, there is no better way to get it than in person with your very own SLP. You can find a certified SLP in your area by going here. 

What iPad, iPhone, or iPodTouch apps are you raving about right now?  I'd love to hear!

By the way, have you heard about the brain injury dialogues  yet?  If not, check out the trailers for this neat documentary.  I can't wait to see it!  It's going to air on PBS sometime in February or March.


  1. Thanks for sharing! Have you tried Voice4u app? They are giving away the app to SLPs, OTs, and other do-gooders for free.

  2. This is their website,