Friday, October 24, 2014

Staff Review: Find out what the whole herd thinks of Speech Sounds for Kids — English Version


Purpose of App: Speech Sound for Kids is an iPad app for promoting phonemic awareness, auditory discrimination and speech sound production using a multi-sensory approach. (From iTunes)

Strengths: Comprehensive coverage of subject, detailed user manual, supports multiple profiles as well as data collection and sharing. The many activities available are engaging and hold the attention of the youngest users.

Weaknesses: Requires adult assistance — not designed for kids to explore independently. Poor voice recording quality. While the app does support multiple profiles, these are not useful for group sessions. Not interactive. Amount of detail in user manual is a bit overwhelming.

Suggested Audience: It is recommended for children aged approximately 4 years to 7 years; however, younger and older children may find it useful depending on their individual needs. (From iTunes)

Number of Reviewers: 5

Developer: Multimedia Speech Pathology


If you'd like to download Speech Sounds for Kids — US Edition ($12.99, iPad only) please support Smart Apps for Kids by using this link:






Heather H.
Rating

Strengths

Comprehensive app to develop phonemic awareness and practice all speech sounds in English. The user manual is very detailed and provides information on how to use the app, as well as how to help carry over the phonemic skills to daily life. The app supports multiple user profiles, and uses a multi-sensory approach, a research-based way to learn sounds. There is a picture, sound, video of production, story and hand cue for each sound. Multiple activities are presented for each sound to master sound discrimination and production, at both single sound and multiple sound level. There is also data collection detailing which sounds were attempted, which activities, the amount of time on each activity and how many responses were correct or incorrect. This data can also be mailed.
Suggestions

It is hard to figure out how to effectively use the app, with multiple layers and ways to access the activities. Even reading the manual, it took me some time to figure out how to use it effectively in therapy or with students. It’s not designed for students to explore independently. While there are multiple user profiles, it does not support multiple students in one session, meaning a group session requires the therapist to quickly switch users and levels. The voice recording is not ideal, and has a bit of an echo. The app also does not always use standard US English spellings, even though it’s advertised as the US English version. The graphics are simply pictures of a print resource, and are only minimally animated. There are no interactive elements.
General opinion

Speech Sounds for Kids has extensive support for learning phonemic awareness and speech sound production, for a relatively low price. It’s not designed as a fun app, but can provide material and structure for teachers, parents and speech-language pathologists. It is somewhat difficult to navigate with many layers and activities. Still, for adult use with a child, it can be a great resource for learning speech sounds for articulation or reading.
Kelli
Rating
Strengths
Right off the bat my children found the pictures/characters to be funny. Funny in our house is the first step to getting the kids to do things that might not otherwise interest them. Perhaps it was the novelty of the whole thing, but it held my daughter’s interest for long periods of time “even though it is one of those apps that teaches you stuff” (her words). The multiple activities reinforcing sounds as we learned them also help to keep little users engaged.
Suggestions
As a parent, I found that while there is a lot of content and there are many activities to reinforce ideas, occasionally I found it a little tedious to navigate because there was too much going on. All of the extra buttons were kind of a distraction there along the bottom (in “copy the words,” for example). I found that my little test subjects were a little more interested in “hey, what does that button do?” than they were in the point of the app. I think I would like it if, at the start, there were an option to “play with therapist” or “play at home” with the at-home version being a bit more streamlined. Kind of just for practice without all of the extra buttons to add notes, etc.
General opinion
My general impression of this app is favorable. By that I mean it seems to do what it says it’s going to do. It held my child’s interest while we were playing. Neither of my kids has ever been to speech therapy, so I can’t speak in a knowledgeable fashion about how effective of a tool it would be there, but I can say that I can see us using it as a tool to help my beginning reader. Still, I found myself wishing more than once that it was just a bit more simplified.
Rachel H.
Rating
Strengths
Even though I am a parent and only have one child with a speech delay, I appreciate the fact that Speech Sounds for Kids allows for multiple students. One of my favorite things about this app is that it includes 22 different consonant sounds, including digraphs and blends children struggle with. Multiple letter sounds can be worked during the same session and it is super easy to select and modify which sounds will be used during a session. There is also a multitude of sound games available for each blend to help make sure that a child stays interested as well as ensuring there is at least one activity any child will respond to.
Suggestions
As a parent and not a licensed therapist, I found the detailed app manual extremely useful; however, it can be slightly overwhelming. Perhaps a quick start guide could be helpful to give a quick general overview of the app. The narrator voice sounds a little bit like she’s in a cave. It is clear, and perfectly understandable, but there is a distant, faraway quality to the actual audio. For older children, it would be nice if there was the ability to display a caption and not rely solely on pictures.
General opinion
This is an extremely robust and easy to use speech app. As a parent wanting to work with my child at home, I feel confident in my ability to navigate and properly use the activities. With the ability to share statistics easily via email, it could be a great app for use jointly at home and in therapy sessions. Each time my son and I work with the app, I feel like I discover a whole new layer and opportunities to help further develop his language skills. I was truly blown away by how much this app has to offer. It is comprehensive enough to be useful to therapists, but easy enough to navigate for use at home.
Cynthia
Rating
Strengths
Speech Sounds for Kids (U.S. Version) has all the sounds a concerned parent might want to work on with a child aged four to seven. It includes 22 sounds including /m/, /n/, /th soft/ and /th loud/ and users can choose from two to five sounds to learn, practice, compare and gain phonological awareness. The app provides statistics that can be emailed for posterity, or to the therapist or even grandma. (Grandma cares too, people.) Up to nine user profiles can be created and notes can be made in the exercises as well as saved attempts by children to produce the chosen sounds. The app is loaded with useful exercises.
Suggestions
Although the sounds are correct, the recordings are sub-par and give me visions of a dedicated speech therapist working in the quietest room of her home: the linen closet. Only no linens, because there is a slight echo in the recordings. This may not bother some users, but when it comes to a sound-based app, I suggest a high emphasis on the quality of the sounds, which calls for a professional studio recording. There is a 25-page manual included as well as a link to a YouTube video on how to utilize the app. In my opinion, this is overkill. In future versions, removing these memory eaters and adding a simple link to a how-to page (parent-protected) can provide the same help.
General opinion
Parents should be aware that this is not an app to hand to a child and expect progress. Each area of the app is dependent on having an adult direct the interactions, such as when to speak, whether the sound was correct, and whether the sound needs to be worked on further. This is also not an inexpensive app. The $12.99 price tag definitely makes a difference on expectations. I expected lots of choices and straight-to-business speech and that's what I got, but I also expected very clear audio and that was only partly provided. For parents that have a child already in speech therapy, this would make a great accompaniment to the home toolbox. If a parent is considering whether or not to get a child evaluated, I recommend waiting to purchase this until having a bit more professional information.
Heather S.
Rating
Strengths
I really appreciate the amount of sounds that Speech Sounds for Kids has for a child to practice. Each one is pronounced correctly for a child to understand easily. Multiple users can be set up on one app, which is great for a therapy setting. It has a detailed user guide to help users get started with the app. As an ABA therapist and former teacher, I love data, so this app gets a lot of points from me for tracking data and even recording the user.
Suggestions
Although the user guide has a lot of detail, it was a bit overwhelming. I would love to have a shorter tutorial to help get started faster. The app is easy to navigate for an adult, and is set up to be used by a child with an adult, but some of the games would be good for a child to use on his own. But since the app is difficult for a child to navigate, it might help if there were a section that children could navigate on their own, so they could practice when an adult is not available. The sound quality of the app is not entirely clear, and I think it is very important for children to not only hear the sounds correctly, but to hear them clearly as well.
General opinion
Overall, the app could easily be used in a therapy or home setting with multiple children. It is a great resource for learning and practicing sounds. For the price, I would love for a child to be able to use it a bit more independently for some practice. This would be a great app to use at home in conjunction with therapy, as a therapist could tell what sounds to work on at home on the app. I wish the sound quality was slightly better, but I do appreciate the accuracy of the sounds.

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