Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sarah's Top 10 Basic Concept Apps

Basic concepts are crucial building blocks for vocabulary development and following directions.  Preschool and early elementary students are expected to respond to adult directed questions and requests.  Basic opposite concepts are embedded in most of these directions.  "Stay behind the line."  "Put that on the bottom shelf."  Kids also need to learn to use these concepts expressively to describe and ask/answer questions.  Smart Apps for Kids recently gave the Basic Concept Skills Screener app a 5 star review.  It is a fabulous app for assessing a child's knowledge of basic concepts, but many children with special needs require direct instruction and practice with these concepts.  As an SLP, I help children develop and understand this type of vocabulary through structured play, highlighting them during everyday classroom activities and, of course, by using apps.  Below are 10 of my favorite apps to target basic concepts.  If you'd like to download any of these apps, please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by using the links provided.

1.  Opposites 1 & 2 by My First Apps

I'm a fan of all the My First AppsOpposites 1 is designed for children 2 1/2+ and features 30 basic concepts pairs. Opposites 2 is designed for ages 3+ and features another 30 pairs of opposite concepts. In each of these apps you get 2 boards for free with 5 opposite pairs on each board.  Ten other boards can be unlocked through an in-app purchase for $2.99.  The goal of each board is to match the opposites by dragging them to the boxes in the center.  The written word pops up when you drag a picture into a box and you can use the record feature to add the word verbally.  I have my students record the words for each concept themselves before we play the matching game.

Opposites 1 (iPhone/iPad, Free/full version $2.99)

Opposites 2 (iPad only, Free/full version $2.99)

2. You and Me: We're Opposites by CJ Educations

This quirky little book app is filled with adorable animals presenting 14 opposite pairs.  Features an Autoplay and Read to Me option for the book, as well as a catchy song and matching game activity.  Lots of humor and fun surprises on each page.  I really like that it covers position, size and location concepts, but also addresses "mood" opposites like nice/grouchy.  You'll find yourself humming along with the song and your kids will be having fun while learning.

iPad only, $2.99

3.  Caveman Time Machine by Super Duper Publications

Kenny the Caveman can travel in his time machine to 3 different time periods: Ancient Egypt, The Old West and The Future.  There are 15 animated scenes (5 per time period) to explore, reinforcing 54 basic concepts.  The same concepts are presented in each time period, but in different ways which helps with generalization.  Hidden animations encourage children to experiment.  There are 3 concept quizzes to assess understanding of the concepts presented.  The results can be printed or e-mailed, but only one student can be assessed at a time.  This is a favorite of mine, because it can be used for the discussion and teaching of the skills, but also as an assessment tool.

iPad only, $4.99

4. Splingo's Language Universe by The Speech and Language Store LLC

Help Splingo get home to her planet by following directions including basic opposite concepts.  This app addresses basic concepts within 1-4 step directions.  Games can be customized to the level your child is working at.  It features a progressive reward system that kids will love.  Developed by an SLP and a teacher, Splingo can be used to address a variety of language targets including basic concepts which makes it well worth it's $2.99 price tag.

iPhone/iPad, $2.99

5.  Magical Concepts by Virtual Speech Center Inc.

This app is a little more expensive, but it has wonderful data collection features, tracks multiple students at a time, and can be used with older children too.  It targets 60 different concepts including temporal, spatial, quantity, quality and social-emotional.  You can select "all" or specifically pick which concepts you want to work on for each student.  Students work toward a magic show reward and you can adjust the number of questions that need to be completed to earn the reward.  This is a comprehensive basic concept app with excellent customization features.

iPhone/iPad, $9.99

6.  Let's Do Basic Concepts by Kids Can Talk, LLC

Designed for children ages 2-6, this app presents 22 basic concepts through a game with receptive identification and following direction tasks.   It also features 7 children's songs.  Teaching concepts through music is fun, and it allows my students to "act out" the vocabulary they are learning.  Chez the Monkey is an adorable character who will cheer on your child as they play. 

iPad only, $3.99

7.   Kids Learning - Photo Touch Concepts by

Kids Learning app features over a 1000 different pictures covering a HUGE variety of basic concepts.  It covers temporal, spatial, descriptive vocabulary and more.  You can choose to target a few specific concepts at a time or mix them all together.  Customization features allow for the audio reinforcers to be recorded with a parent or friend's voice to make it more motivating.  The interface of the app is very simple, making it ideal for very young users, but the varied content makes it appropriate to use with older children too.   

iPhone/iPad, $0.99

8.  Comparative Adjectives by

Ready to take your basic concept work to the next level?  Challenge your kids with this app.  The interface is similar to Kids Learning - Photo Touch Concepts with great quality photographs and the ability to select specific targets.  Instead of identifying between 2 opposite concepts like big/little or old/young, children will have to determine which animal is bigger or which dog is older.  In settings, you can customize the error and success sounds or turn off/on a hint.  This is a great app for working on basic concepts and describing skills.  

iPhone/iPad, FREE

9.  Opposite Day by Synapse Apps, LLC

This app was developed by an SLP and organizes the basic concepts into 4 groups: nouns, verbs, prepositions, and adjectives.  There are over 150 comic book-like illustrations and solid data collection features available.   I like that you can browse through and discuss the concepts receptively and expressively or quiz students to check for understanding.  Concepts can be presented in both English and Spanish which makes it great for bilingual students. 

iPhone/iPad, $1.99

10. Opposites - A Montessori Pre-Language Exercise by Rantek Inc.

This app presents 30 different opposite concepts side by side through photographs or illustrations.  The pictures appear in a sort of film strip across the top of the screen.  The opposite words are printed underneath and you must press the red button to retrieve the corresponding picture.  The yellow button presents each word verbally.  Children can explore the concepts on their own or you can have them guess which picture is needed.  You receive one set of words for $2.99 with the option to purchase 2 other sets through an in-app purchase.  Personally, I'd like to see all the words available for one price, but this app is well developed and useful.

iPad only, $2.99

We'd love to hear from you!  Tell us about your favorite apps to work on basic concepts.

Sarah rarely wears socks during the day (even when it's freezing), but absolutely cannot fall asleep without them.  How's that for an opposite?

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