Saturday, May 3, 2014

Top 10 Free or Inexpensive Apps for Articulation Therapy

The end of the school year is quickly approaching and I have lots of parents asking about apps to help their children practice speech sounds over the summer. There are amazing apps available to target articulation and phonological skills. They feature all kinds of bells and whistles like recording options, customization features and data collection. I'm fortunate to own several of these apps, but they typically run at least $20 and up. In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month, I decided to come up with a list of ten cheap (or free) apps that could be used to work on articulation skills. All apps below are under $5 and many are free. These apps are perfect for SLPs, but could also be used by parents wishing to reinforce target sounds at home. Keep in mind, many of the apps are designed for phonics practice so sounds are organized a bit differently than traditional artic apps. Make sure to consult with your child's therapist about what targets and cues would be appropriate.

If you would like to download any or all of these apps, please support Smart Apps for Special Needs by clicking on the links provided.

1. Phonic Genius by Innovative Mobile Apps

This app features over 6,000 words grouped by sound. The phoneme being targeted is automatically highlighted and you can choose the position of the sound within the word. Customize, add and delete categories and flashcards under settings. Only the written word is presented. There are no pictures or animation, but I love having word lists right at my finger tips.

(iPhone/iPad, FREE)

2. Beginning Sounds Interactive Game by Lakeshore Learning Materials

This is another phonics app where children match pictures beginning with the same sound.  Select three beginning sounds at a time from a choice of 18. This app is great for work on auditory discrimination. Appropriate for children in Pre-K through early elementary school.

(iPhone/iPad, $0.99)

3. PCS Bingo by Dynavox Mayer-Johnson

This is the most expensive app on my list but for less than five dollars you get a great articulation app plus Bingo boards for vocabulary, language and rhyming. What a deal! Features games for 18 phonemes plus S blends, L blends, R blends and vocalic /r/. Boards are available in 3x3 or 5x5. Words are presented with the target sound highlighted and targets are represented in initial, medial and final positions of words.

(iPhone/iPad, $4.99)

4. Make Dice Lite by hnm

Preschoolers can get a little wild rolling traditional dice. My speech minutes are precious and I don't want to waste them crawling on the floor looking for dice. This app solved my problem, but then I realized I could customize dice with specific artic targets. You can use up to 6 dice at a time. I like to have one die with target words and one number die so the roll determines how many times they say the target word. You can also use multiple dice to work on phrases. The Lite version is free or you can spring for the full version which eliminates ads and allows you to add photos to the dice.

Lite (iPhone/iPad, Free)       Full (iPhone/iPad, $2.99)

5. Pic Collage by Cardinal Blue

My students love making original creations with Pic Collage. We go on searches for pictures of things that have our target sound and make collages that can be saved and used over and over. I make my own collages using images from the web that feature a specific phoneme. It's fun to make up stories about the pictures which helps my kids work on their articulation and language skills. Easily disable the "photos from web" option and social media features if kids are creating on their own. There are in-app purchases available, but you don't need to spend a dime to get great use from this app.

(iphone/iPad, Free)

6. My First Words - Flashcard by Alligator Apps by Innovative Mobile Apps

This free app offers several categories of flashcards for free and additional categories through in-app purchase. No need to spend any money because under settings you can add, edit or delete categories and flashcards. You can make a category for each target sound. Again, I like to involve my students in the creation of the cards by helping them take pictures of appropriate items and adding their own voices with the recording feature.

(iPhone/iPad, Free)

7. Small Talk Phonemes by Lingraphia

This app features video of the lip and tongue movements to produce each phoneme in the English language. Designed for individuals with apraxia, aphasia or dsyarthria, it's also great for children with ASD. They can watch the videos over and over without having to look at an actual person's face which can sometimes be difficult. The videos are only of the mouth. Lingraphia offers 12 other similar apps focusing on blends, common phrases and more.

(iPhone/iPad, Free)

8 Quick Artic by Virtual Speech Center Inc.
This free app does require you to register at the Virtual Speech Center website. It has 566 images featuring the printed word and categorized by sound. Simple phonemes like /b/, /p/, /d/, /t/, /m/, /n/, /h/ and /w/ are not included but it does have 10 complex phonemes including blends divided by position within the word. The charting feature enables you to get a percentage of correct responses for each phoneme. This is a great app to use for a quick screening.

(iPhone/iPad, Free)

9. Open-Ended Articulation by Erik X. Raj

Perfect for children working on carryover of target sounds including S, Z, L, R, TH, CH, SH and blends.  Meets my under $5 criteria by a penny, but is currently on sale for $2.99! Features over 500 open-ended questions designed by a speech language pathologist to work on carryover in a creative way. Ideal for children over six, parents and kids will have a blast with these crazy questions while working on important skills.

(iPhone/iPad, $2.99 for a limited time)

10. Tx Tools by Pedia Staff
This free collection of tools assists therapists and teachers in their day-to-day sessions with clients/students. 
 1. IEP Scheduler: counts out days to help calculate the exact date of upcoming IEPs, evaluations or specific day timelines for initial evaluations. 
 2. Tally This: keeps an ongoing tally during therapy activities, eliminating the need to manually count with paper and pencil. 
 3. Percent Right: efficiently calculates percentage correct during trials. 
 4. Age Finder: quickly determines client/student’s chronological age today or in the future for use in clinical evaluations and assessments. 

(iPhone/iPad, Free)

Sarah is starting to dream about IEP paperwork which usually means the end of the school year is almost here.

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