Monday, November 11, 2013

Heather’s Top Ten Cheap Apps for Speech Therapy Use

ThidwickeAs a speech-language pathologist with an iPad, I have no shortage of articulation apps. One of them, Articulation Station, even earned a spot as a Top Pick based on my review. But SLPs know that sometimes the same apps over and over can get a little dull, even with several to choose from. Parents of kids with speech sound disorders also sometimes want something a little different and inexpensive for at-home practice. So here is a list of my top 10 off-label apps to make speech sound practice just a little more exciting.

Sock puppetsSock Puppets by Smith Micro Software, Inc. (FREE, iPhone/iPad, with in-app purchases or $3.99 complete)


Yes, Ron's favorite Sock Puppets are also very useful for speech therapy. A maximum of four characters can be added to each scene, which is perfect for many of my therapy sessions. Each student picks a sock puppet, and uses a list of words with target speech sounds to generate the dialogue. Students win bonus points (worth nothing) if they can use the props and scenery with their speech sounds, too. After a recording, we play it back and count the number of correct productions that were made, along with gaining more awareness of any continued mistakes. I have never added anything through in-app purchases, but be sure to have them turned off before you let kids use independently.

Stack statesStack the States by Dan Russell-Pinson ($.99, iPhone/iPad)

My therapy kids love games! With my younger elementary students, s-blend words are often therapy targets. Sometimes the younger students still don't understand the concept of states at all, and along with the benefit of two /st/ blends each state as they repeat "stack the state," students learn the names of other places. The geography knowledge is a nice bonus, and I find most kids are excited to be able to learn about the United States. Use it when the general education teachers are addressing geography for an added curricular tie in. There's a FREE Lite version with limited states, too.

Make diceMake Dice by hnm ($2.99, iPhone/iPad)

This app is simple but surprisingly appealing. There is a free version, as well as the full version which enables adding pictures. I've used it in many ways in speech-language therapy. For speech sounds, sometimes we write words on each dice that contain the target sound, then roll and say. Students at the sentence level say both words in a sentence. Sometimes I use simple number dice, and then have students add the total and read that many words from a list. Any way we do it, it's always fun.

Super note recorderSuper Note: Recorder, Notes, Memos by Clear Sky Apps LTD ($1.99, iPhone/iPad).

Sometimes a therapy win is getting back to the basics with a technology twist. The older students especially enjoy using the voice recorder, and my current favorite is Super Note because it pairs text notes with audio recordings. Make a list of words with the targeted speech sounds, record the student saying the words, and listen. The recordings can also be downloaded to a computer or emailed to share with parents for home practice. Recording articulation practice has been done for ages with handheld recorders; this app makes it even more fun for the students to hear their productions. I like that I am recorded along with the child—if they need a prompt for correct productions, parents can hear that, too. The free version limits the number of recordings but has the same functionality.

OceanhoiuseDr. Seuss books by Oceanhouse Media (priced from $.99-$3.99, iPhone/iPad)

Lisa M recently put together a post with an insane number of Dr. Seuss book apps (over 40? We won't talk about how long it has taken me to put together this list of 10!). Even if they are no longer on sale, Dr. Seuss books are a good option for speech sound practice. Practice /f/ with The Foot Book, /z/ with If I Ran the Zoo, /th/ with Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, or just pick out the repeated words with the same target sound needed. Dr. Seuss's ABC is a great book for multiple speech sounds, and Fox in Socks and Oh Say Can You Say feature tongue twisters perfect for kids who need a challenge. There are even Lite versions of many books with the first few pages free to try.

GarfiledGarfield Daily by Paws Incorporated (FREE, iPhone)

This is a free app featuring classic and current Garfield comic strips. The user can search by date or by keyword (try "lasagna" for /l/), or simply use the Random feature to let the app choose. My own kids find Garfield's sarcasm hilarious, and it's definitely a piece of American culture. I have older students read the strip looking for their speech sounds, and sometimes we save the strip to the Photos, print it out, and add a new speech bubble using target words.

Show meShowMe Interactive Whiteboard by Learnbat, Inc (FREE, iPad only)

This free app is great to use in any kind of speech-language therapy, but it's been especially useful for me with articulation and speech sound production. For families with internet access at home, each student's "tutorial" can even be shared for at-home practice. We find it most fun by adding pictures with the targeted speech sound, writing the words underneath, and using the record feature to say the word or use the word in a sentence. When it's time to practice using speech sounds in more conversational speech, students can make a tutorial for anything of interest, and then focus on using correct sounds to narrate.

Abc spyABC Spy and ABC Spy HD by Stealth Education($.99 iPhone, $1.99 iPad)

(iPad) (iPhone)

I reviewed this app as one of my first for Smart Apps For Kids (has it really only been a year?), and it's still fun. Use the iPad or iPhone camera to take a picture to represent every letter of the alphabet. When complete, the app strings them together into a video. While the target speech sounds can obviously be practiced for that letter of the alphabet, the child can also use the speech sound in medial word and final word positions for all of the other letters. The child working on /s/ might choose "sock" for S, a "puzzle piece" for P (working on final /s/), and "glasses" for G (targeting medial /s/).

You're the Storyteller: The Surprise by Hamaguchi Apps (Home version $5.99, Pro version $9.99, iPad only)

(Home) (Pro)

This is a little bit of a cheat, because it really is an app designed for speech-language therapy. Since it's so perfect for students with both language and articulation/phonology goals and it's not normally mentioned when discussing articulation apps, I am leaving it in. In this app, the user records the dialogue for a cute animated story, so the app is excellent for practice with narrative development and expressive language. Before each recording, I cue the student to remember to think about targeted speech sounds. Just like in Sock Puppets, we listen and discuss performance at the end.

SonicpicsiconSonicPics by Humble Daisy, Inc. ($2.99, iPhone/iPad)

When I recently reviewed this app, I had big dreams for using it for all kinds of speech-language therapy activities. As often happens, I run out of time, but I have been able to use it for some articulation therapy. Make a list of words containing the target speech sound, then take a picture of that item, or find pictures online to add to the Photo Stream. Since I don't have internet access to my iPad in my therapy room, we also just took pictures of picture cards! Somehow, it makes it more fun this way. The student narrates the picture video with word or sentence, depending on his or her current level.

This is, of course, not even close to a complete list of the apps I use in therapy. Creativity makes any app useful for therapy with speech sounds. Try these apps out, and share what you use in a creative way to make therapy and home practice just a little more exciting.

Lil heatherHeather Hetler is convinced she'd win any "use this app in therapy" contest, if only there was such a contest.

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