Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lively Letters {app review}

A few years ago, I heard a presentation at MSHA (Missouri Speech-Language Hearing Association) on Lively Letters.  It started out as a set of cards, and now they have expanded to an app!

What is it? 
Lively Letters is an innovative program created by an ASHA certified SLP that takes the letters of the alphabet and gives them each a character.  The whole program is based on multi-sensory ways of learning phonemic awareness.  There are images, hand/body cues, kinesthetic cues, mnemonic stories, and songs to go with each character.  Pretty cool, right?  You can find out more about the program and cards here.  You can download free samples from them as well. 

Image: Reading with TLC

Who is it for?
Lively Letters is great for children with speech and language disorders, reading difficulties, dyslexia,  and memory weaknesses.  It is also great for children learning English as a second language.  The targeted grades are preschool through 2nd grade. 

The App
The new Lively Letters app uses the same cards and stories in three activities!  Like the cards, the app also incorporates multi-sensory learning opportunities.

To start, select the student from the list or enter a new student.  Under each student, you will be able to view their progress. 

For every activity, you may choose the letter type--plain versus Lively and uppercase versus lowercase.  You also may choose which specific letters you want to target. 

The student may choose a theme for the background. 

The first activity is Flashing.  The Flashing activity is great for teaching the letters and sounds as well as practicing them. 

Click on the book icon to her the story read in English or Spanish.  Click the music note icon to hear the song.  Click on the lips icon to see a picture of a person making the sound with the hand cues.  Click on the pencil icon to have the student write the letter.  Click on the ear icon to hear the sound made.  

The second activity is Tracking.  In this activity, students will practice blending, segmenting, and manipulating sounds.  They can read words that the SLP gives them or they can spell a given word.  They can also play the "Alien versus Human" game.  Click on the alien if it is a nonsense word or click on the human if it's a real word.   Click on the pencil icon to trace the letters.  

The last activity is Matching.  This game is the traditional memory game, and it gives students another way to practice their letter/sound associations.  It allows students to match all combinations of Lively letters to plain letters and uppercase to lowercase for maximal generalization.  

You can track the progress for each activity: 

In summary, Lively Letters is a great research-based program created by an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist to target phonemic awareness.  It makes blending, segmenting, and manipulating letters/sounds fun! The app has three fun and easy activities to supplement the program (or stand alone).  My clients have really enjoyed the fun stories and songs that correspond with the letters.  They keep asking to use it again and again and have even asked their parents to purchase it for them!

If you are interested in purchasing this app, it is typically available in the App Store for $24.99 at the time of this review.  BUT, through March 12, 2018, the app is $5 off, so you can get it for $19.99. An affiliate link is below for your convenience.  

Note: A copy of this app was provided for my review. No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are mine. 


Monday, January 15, 2018

Dew Drop Academy {app review}

Note: A copy of this app was provided in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are mine. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. 

A brand new language app was released on Christmas Day called Dew Drop Academy.  It was inspired by the flashcard system an occupational therapist created for a boy with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays.  I was given the opportunity to check it out, and I'm excited to share it with you.

This app is designed to help children learn colors, shapes, numbers, letters, everyday objects, and high frequency words. Here's an important note from the developer of the app:
"Dew Drop Academy's artificial intelligence constantly tracks how quickly the student is learning, and adjusts the difficulty up or down so that the student is never overly challenged nor finds it too slow. The application also reviews words the student has previously mastered to ensure long-term memory of each word. The teacher may review what words the student has learned, how quickly the student is learning each word, and the overall speed of learning."

The first thing the app does is a quick assessment to determine where the child is.   This is called a "Probe" under the data section.  This is done periodically to measure generalization.

Every activity is run the same way; they just have different targets.  The screen will pop up one or more flashcards with the target (and other words/letters/numbers).  The child will receptively identify the word spoken by the app.   Here are a few examples:

Note-the app varies the font for the letters and words and the shape for each of the colors so that the child generalizes the word/letter/color.  I really like this feature!

The app will give positive reinforcement for you, such as "Alright!" "Yay," "Ya-hoo!" or "Way to go!" It also will give the children a chance to pop clouds to find Dewy, the dew drop, as a break in between activities.   The dew drop will create fun cloud designs, such as the one below.

Another fantastic thing about this app is that it tracks data for you.  The percentage that it gives is the percentage correct of the past five times that the child was asked that word.   The second data point you will see is "Trials to Mastery."  This is the number of times the child was asked to receptively label the object before the score was high enough to be considered mastered (80%).

I would love to see a multi-player option.  While this would work well for individual sessions, a lot of SLPs see children in groups.  It also doesn't stop when a child achieves 80%.  Let's say a child hits the 80% mastery criteria after 5 tries (4/5), I would think that the app would switch to another letter.  Instead, it keeps going until all of the rainbow bars are filled in on the side of the screen.  Yes, repetition is important.  However, my clients who have mastered it get bored after awhile.

Finally, an awesome thing about this app is that 10% of purchases are donated to charities to help kids with developmental delays!

So in summary, Dew Drop Academy is a great app to work on receptive labeling of colors, numbers, shapes, letters, and high-frequency words.  It uses a flashcard type system to elicit multiple repetitions per target.  The app focuses on mastery and generalization.  I also think this would be a great app for parents to use at home for practice (with consultation from the SLP of course).

If you are interested in purchasing this app, it is available in the App Store.  It is a FREE download with options to purchase the various activities.  The activities range in price from $0.99 to $2.99. 

Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

2017 Recap: Abundance

2017 was a big year for me, both personally and professionally.  In January, I randomly selected the word "abundance" as my word of the year.  I had no idea what that was going to mean/look like for me, but I was excited to find out.   

January turned out to be one of the hardest months of the year for us.  We found out that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which meant we weren't sure how long our journey to parenthood would be.  We also lost two people close to us, both unexpectedly.   Not a great start for a year that was supposed to be about "abundance."  

Fast forward to March 17th, and we find out that we are expecting!  What an incredible blessing.  I was also dealing with a wide range of emotions: overjoyed that we were expecting and anxious about the health of the baby (my levels were low and miscarriages run in my family).

In May, we found out it was going to be a girl and that she had a strong heartbeat. 

In June, I took on a new role at my job as a clinical supervisor.  This was something that I had been preparing for for a long time, and I was excited to finally begin on this journey.  I had a fantastic grad student who made it a very easy first semester of supervising! 

This fall, I took a break from supervising grad students and took on yet another new role as a Clinical Fellowship mentor.  This was another exciting adventure for me (one that I'm still on).  It has challenged me (in a good way) and has also shown me how much you learn in a few short years out of grad school.  It's amazing!  

On Thanksgiving Day, we welcomed our daughter, Adeline Grace.  We are so so so blessed.

In December, we traveled so that Addy could meet all SIX of her living great-grandparents.  She was a trooper.  It was incredible watching them with her and seeing four generations present in one room, something that doesn't happen very often.  

Now I can see why "abundance" was given to me as my word.  We were so abundantly blessed this year.  I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds.

Happy New Year, friends!   

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Articulation Hunt {app review}

I have a brand new app for you to check out from Home Speech Home called Articulation Hunt!  For those of you that do a pirate theme in your speech room, this app is perfect for you!   This is a fun app to add into your rotation of apps for your articulation students.

Check out this video preview of the app:

You can use this app individually or in a group setting, which is perfect for group therapy and school SLPs! 

While setting up the game, you can choose the target sound for each child, the position of the sound, and the speed of the game.  I usually choose slow, because I think those are fast the way they are.  However, if your students/clients are up for a challenge, feel free to up the speed.

On each person's turn, the app pops up a picture and shows a number of stars for the number of times the child is to say the word.  The stars are filled in via voice activation.  It is not always super sensitive or is overly sensitive, which can be frustrating to my clients.  You can turn this off, though, so just monitor it in your sessions and see if you like it.

Once all of those stars are lit up, the game appears.  The bubbles appear at the speed you chose earlier (slow, medium, fast).  The students are working towards 50 jewels total.  The object is to pop the bubbles of the word that the student just practiced.  Every time they pop the correct picture, they receive a jewel.  If they pop the wrong word, there is a consequence, and they begin to lose jewels.

Once the child has received the 50 jewels, the game changes to a new land.  There are nine lands in the game: sunken treasure, candy land, enchanted forest, pirate cove, beanstalk heaven, scorching desert, crystal beach, creepy forest, and magical sea.  My clients have enjoyed seeing what land is next.

Once you are done playing for the day, exit the game and save the data!  This is a great way to monitor progress over various sessions as well.

You can change the settings to further customize the game.

Overall, this app is a fantastic way to keep students engaged in articulation drill.  It is an easy way to get I have used this app with clients of all ages, from 4 year olds to my 18 year olds.  All of them have enjoyed playing it and exploring the different lands.  They have all asked to play it again.  It is definitely an articulation app that I will add to my regular rotation!

If you are interested in purchasing this app, it is available on the app store for $5.99 at the time of this review:

Enjoy this fun, new app!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Inference Pics {app review}

Note: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience.  

Inference Pics is a brand new app from Aptus Speech and Language Therapy.  It is designed to target inferencing skills, a very important life skill.  Many of my clients have goals for inferencing, so this app is great for my caseload.  Check it out below.

Here is the description from the app developer:
"Inference Pics is designed to elicit verbal expression and target the ability to make inferences. It uses real-life pictures depicting events, conversations, thoughts, feelings, jobs, places and seasons. Inference Pics will get people talking, help them to foster key social skills and master the ability to make social inferences."

There are seven (7) different activities to do in this app:
-What Has Happened?
In this activity, clients will look at a picture, describe what happened, and tell how they know.

In this activity, clients will look at the picture and determine that person's job.

In this activity,  clients will look at the picture and determine where a person is.

In this activity, clients will look at the picture and determine what time of year it is.

In this activity, clients will look at the picture and determine how a person is feeling.

In this activity, clients will look at the picture and determine what each person is saying.

In this activity, clients will look at a picture and determine what each person is thinking.

What I love about this app:
-There are a variety of activities to practice inferencing skills.
-You can target WH questions, pragmatics, turn-taking, and more with this app.
-It takes data for you.
-It uses real-life photos.
-You can use as a guest or as a saved user.
-It allows for scaffolding--clients can answer with or without answer choices.
-It is super easy to use.

What I would love to see in an update:
-This is me being extremely picky, but I would love it if the app used a non-synthesized/digital voice.  My clients generally respond better to a human voice.

*Note: this app was produced in the United Kingdom.  Some of the vocabulary used is not the same that I use in the United States.  This is not a problem.  Rather, it is just something to be aware of when using this

In summary, Inference Pics is an easy-to-use app to practice inference skills along with WH questions, pragmatic language, turn-taking, and vocabulary skills. It uses real life photos, not cartoons, with help with carryover skills.  The app takes data, which saves time for busy SLPs, and it has built in scaffolding and answer choices.

If you're interested in this app, you can purchase it on the App Store for $11.99 at the time of this review.

Note: A copy of this app was provided for my review.  No other compensation was received. All opinions expressed are mine. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Best Books for Childhood Apraxia of Speech

I absolutely love using books in therapy.  I use them for my language clients all the time.  Recently, I've begun exploring using them more with my articulation clients and my clients with CAS.  

I'm not really sure why I never thought about it before, but books are a great resource for CAS because they can be so repetitive and offer a lot of practice on given words.  There is also quite a bit of research behind using books in therapy:

-children's books are highly predicable (Luckner, 1990)
-books foster speech and language development (Chamberlain & Strode, 2004)
-books allow children to fill-in the blanks without imitation, which can be challenging for children with CAS (Forrest, 2003)
-repetitive books foster development of phonemic awareness and other pre-reading skills (Lovelace & Stewart, 2007)

Here's what we know about CAS, repetition, and literacy:

-children with CAS have decreased intelligibility, especially as the utterance gets longer (Forrest, 2003)
-the more the child practices, the more automatic it becomes (Fletcher, 1995)
-children with CAS have error inconsistency (Jacks, Marquardt, & Davis, 2006)
-children with CAS are at risk for later language and literacy disorders (Lewis, Freebairn, Hansen, Iyengar, & Taylor, 2004)

Back in January, I wrote a post about my top 10 recommendations for repetitive books to use in speech and language therapy.  You can check out the post here. 

Today, I want to add to that list/specify which ones are great for CAS.  In no particular order, here are some of the best repetitive books to use with children with CAS:
1. The Napping House
2. Brown Bear Brown Bear
3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
4. Jump Frog Jump
5. Mr. Brown Can Moo
6. Moo Baa LaLaLa
7. Wocket In My Pocket
8. The Big Book of Exclamations
9. Red Hat, Yellow Hat
10. Goodnight Moon
11. Dear Zoo
12. Have You Seen My Cat?
13. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
14. I Don't Care! Said the Bear
15. Is Your Mama a Llama?

What would you add to this list? 

References from above to check out:
Chamberlain, C. & Strode, R. (2004). Making It Fun: Practicing Speech at Home. First Apraxia- KIDS Parent Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Fletcher, S.G. (1995). Articulation: A Physiological Approach. San Diego, CA: Singular Publishing Group.

Forrest, K. (2003) Diagnostic criteria of developmental apraxia of speech used by clinical speech language pathologists. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology / American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 12 (3), 376-80.

Jacks, A., Marquardt, T.P., Davis, B.L. (2006) Consonant and syllable structure patterns in childhood apraxia of speech: developmental change in three children. Journal of Communication Disorders, 39, 424-41.

Lewis, B.A., Freebairn, L.A., Hansen, A.J., Iyengar, S.K., & Taylor, H.G. (2004) School-age follow-up of children with childhood apraxia of speech. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35, 122-40.

Lovelace, S. & Stewart, S.R. (2007) Increasing print awareness in preschoolers with language impairment using non-evocative print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38 (1), 16-30.

Luckner, J., “Predictable Books: Captivating Young Readers.” In Perspectives in Education and Deafness, October/November, 1990.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Dr. Beaker {product review}

Blue Orange Games always comes out with such fun and engaging games!  Last summer, I wrote about Dr. Eureka and Fast Flip (see post here).  This summer, my clients have been enjoying their newest game called Dr. Beaker.

Here is the description of the game from Blue Orange Games:
"Stir up excitement in Dr. Beaker's Laboratory! Flip a challenge card and race your opponents to match the formula. Using logic and your stirring rod, move the molecules into the right spots. Think ahead - the special rotating platform at the bottom of your beaker only allows the molecules to move one-by-one. Unique game pieces add to the fun in this brainteasing logic race!"
Here's a video explaining how to play:

The game comes with four beakers, four stir sticks, colored balls, and cards.  To play, give each person a beaker, stir stick, and two balls of each color.

In Speech and Language Therapy:
For language goals, I modified the instructions slightly.  Instead of racing against each other, we have been describing the card to another client.  This way, it targets following directions, sequencing, and using descriptive language.

For articulation and other goals, I use it as a reinforcer.  After everyone says their words a given number of times, we can play a round.

This is also a great game for problem solving, as the kids have to think about the order in which to move the balls around to create a matching arrangement to the card.

Other uses:
Our occupational therapists have been using it for visual perception and processing speed.

What my clients have been saying:
-"It is fun!  It took me awhile to get used to how to turn the beaker and move the balls, but once I got used to it, it was easy."
-"It was fun, but I think I like Dr. Eureka better. Dr. Eureka was definitely easier. But this one is fun."
-"I enjoyed racing against each other."
-"I like the science theme."

Bottom Line:
Dr. Beaker is a fun game for my clients to play in my speech room.  It is a great game for language goals or to use as a reinforcer.  They have been asking to play it over and over again this summer and beginning of the school year.   My OT co-workers also reach for it over and over again.

If you are interested in purchasing Dr. Beaker, you can check out Blue Orange Games and order from their website.

Note: A copy of this game was provided for my review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are mine. 
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