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My PlayHome App for Speech Therapy Review

13 Nov

My PlayHome is a fun iPad app that is essentially an interactive dollhouse. It is $3.99 for the full version and there is also a Lite version that is free so you can try it out to see some of the capabilities.

The app has several different screens that depict various rooms in a house including a backyard. In each room, there are dozens of objects that can be manipulated and used in different ways. There are also a variety of family members that can be added to scenes. There are family members of various ethnicity which is a nice feature. Below is a screenshot of the kitchen scene.

my playhome screenshot

You can move the people around in the room and have them interact with objects in the room. Many of the objects have simple animations when you touch them or put them in the correct spot on a person (i.e. putting an apple in front of a person’s mouth causes bites to be taken from the apple, tap the faucet to turn it on and water comes out, put a person on a swing and make them swing). The animations are really great for capturing kid’s attention and keeping them interested in the app.

Most of my preschoolers have been able to figure out most of the simple animations but have needed help to figure out some of the more advanced ones (i.e. putting the boy on the trampoline and making him jump). It also takes some work to get my preschoolers to slow down and get the most language input and expression because they just want to quickly get everything moving and touch everything.

Once you get the child to slow down there are lots of language goals that you can work on with this app! I have worked on pronouns, verbs, and “wh” questions just to name a few. There is also a lot of great, relevant vocabulary in the app. I usually do not use it as a primary activity in my speech therapy sessions, but more as a reinforcer that is still contains lots of opportunities to practice language skills. One negative would be that kids do seem to get bored of it after playing it 2-3 times so I don’t pull it out too often.

Overall, I have found that My PlayHome is a worthwhile app to own for speech therapy for preschoolers and lower elementary students.  I am able to work on several language goals in a fun way with my preschoolers using the app.

PROS

  • Lots of fun, engaging animations
  • Ability to work on many language goals – pronouns, verbs, “wh” questions
  • Age appropriate for preschool through early elementary
  • Low cost

CONS

  • Some animations are hard for kids to figure out
  • Occasional bugs in animations
  • Would be difficult for kids with fine motor difficulties
  • Kids get bored after playing with it a few times

Teaching Answering Where Questions for Preschool or Autism – Adapted Books

12 Nov

It was a three day weekend, so I got busy finishing up two projects for working on answering “where” questions with my preschoolers with autism. I find that many of my preschoolers who are beginning to grasp answering “wh” questions get stuck after learning how to answer “What is it?” and “What is he/she/it doing?” questions.  As with many concepts, providing visuals for language delayed preschoolers or students with autism can be a big help when teaching answering “wh” questions. With that in mind, I created two printable packs for working on answering “where” questions that are loaded with visual supports. One pack has an animal theme and the other has a vehicle theme.

Both packs contain the same styles of activities:

  • An adapted book with visuals
  • A printable, coloring book with visuals
  • Printable puzzles with visuals
  • Worksheet with visuals

Where Questions Vehicles Adapted Book and ActivitiesWhere Questions Animals Adapted Book
The adapted books each feature 5 different “where” answers. The animal book focuses on animal homes (jungle, web, nest, pond, and farm) and the vehicles book focuses on places where the vehicles go (road, train tracks, sky, ocean, and outer space).

You can see an example of what the “Where Do the Vehicles Go?” book looks like when put together below on the left and a preview page showing some of the elements of the “Where Do the Animals Live?” book on the right below.

Where Questions Vehicles Adapted Book Animal Homes Book preview page

Just print, cut the pages on the dotted lines, laminate, add a bit of velcro and you are ready to go. I used a metal ring to hold the book together but plastic binding would work great too. I use the books during whole group circle time in my preschool classes and during pull-out speech therapy. The kids have been loving them!

To work on carryover, each pack also includes a black and white printable book with line drawings so kids can color the vehicles and animals. My classes use these during their center time and send them home so parents can see what their child is working on in school.

Animal Homes Printable page 2

Vehicle Places Printable page 3

The packs also include printable puzzles for matching the vehicle/animal with where they belong and a worksheet.

The packs are available on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click on the links below to head over there!

Where Questions for Preschool and Autism Adapted Book and Activities Pack – Animals

Where Questions for Preschool and Autism Adapted Book and Activities Pack – Vehicles

See Touch Learn Pro – iPad App Review

23 Sep

I have been using the See. Touch. Learn. Pro App from Brain Parade quite a bit over the last year, so it’s definitely time I reviewed it. Last year, when I only had preschoolers on my caseload this is the app that I used by far the most. There is a free version which is great if you just want to get an idea of how the app works. I bought the pro version ($39.99) because it comes with over 4,000 images and allows you to use your own images to make activities. Another great perk of the pro version is access to the “community” which is a section you can go to download activities and picture libraries that other user have created and uploaded.

The app is organized into “Lessons”, “Libraries”, “Community”, and “Settings” sections. The “Settings” screen lets you control several aspects of the lessons like whether you want to show text prompts, automatically advance to the next exercise after a correct choice, or wiggle an incorrect card (I have this one set to “off” because my kids loved making the card wiggle and kept touching the incorrect cards and laughing their heads off!).

The “Libraries” section shown below, shows you all the picture libraries that are available to download organized into sections. In this section you can also make your own libraries if you have the Pro version by downloading pictures from the internet or adding them from your Camera Roll. The ability to add your own pictures is so cool because you can make activities completely customized to your students.

See Touch Learn Libraries

The “Lessons” section shown below, comes with a ton of pre-made activities. They are organized into categories like “Objects”, “People”, and “Other”. As you make your own activities you chose a category to place the activity in. I wish there was flexibility here to create your own categories because I end up adding a lot of the activities I have made into the “Other” category. The pre-made activities offer a great way to get started right away using the app and cover lots of academic and language concepts. You can also edit the pre-made activities by making a duplicate of the activity and then editing it to your liking. The thing I like least about the pre-made activities is the digitized voice that says the prompts. My kids found it hard to understand so I ended up editing any activity I wanted to use frequently by adding my own voice as the prompt. It’s great that you can record your own voice for the prompts, it just takes a bit of time.

See Touch Learn ActivitiesOn the Lessons screen you can create folders to organize your activities a little more. You can see that I have created a “Preschool” folder. I put the pre-made activities I liked for my preschoolers as well as the activities I made in that folder. I plan on making an “Elementary” folder as soon as I get some more time to start making some activities for my elementary kids.

When you select an activity, a screen comes up showing all the parts of the activity. From this screen, you can choose to play the activity or edit it. There is also a setting now in the Lessons screen that allows you to choose “Play Mode” so if a child is using the App they will only be able to play activities not edit them.

See Touch Learn ActivityOnce you select “Play Lesson”, the activity opens and the prompt is read. When the child selects the correct picture(s), a reinforcement sound is played (you can change this in the Settings screen). I wish there was an option in the Settings screen for randomly playing a reinforcement sound because it gets a little repetitive hearing the same reinforcement sound over and over again through an activity.

See Touch Learn Category ActivityThis photo shows a categories activity I made for my preschoolers. The activities focus mostly on receptive academic and language skills although you can make any of the activities expressive as well by requiring your child to give you an expressive response before moving on. The best part of the app is the wide variety of language goals you can target with it. I have made activities for all types of “WH” questions, vocabulary, object functions, what goes together, pronouns, concepts, action words, categories, and negation! I think that is what makes this app worth the price.

I plan on making a lot of new activities with the app for my elementary students. It would be easy to make a quick comprehension test for any book you are reading, custom vocabulary cards, and really anything that you would do with flashcards normally. My kids are much more motivated to use the iPad than flashcards any day!

PROS

  • Huge picture library
  • Allows you to add your own pictures
  • Allows you to create and customize activities
  • Motivating for kids
  • Access to Community activities

CONS

  • Price
  • Digital voice difficult to understand
  • Reinforcement sounds get repetitive

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this app for speech pathologists, special educators, and teachers. If you enjoy making your own activities and customizing, I think you will particularly love this app. If you just want to use the app as is, you may get a little frustrated. It is worth it to take the time to make some awesome, custom activities!

If you have any questions about what the app can do or be used for, please post them in the comments below.

Pronouns Interactive Game for Preschool and Up

20 Sep

It’s been a busy week of getting to know my new kids and starting therapy, so I haven’t had a chance to post about the new activity I made. I have kids on my caseload (and always do) that have pronouns goals. Flashcards work for my older kids but don’t keep my preschoolers’ interest so I created a hands on activity to keep them interested while we work on pronouns. It is also great for working on plurals, is/are verb+ing, and general sentence structure.

Pronouns Preschool Speech Therapy GameSince it is food-based, I decided to name it the Yum Yum Pronouns Game. It focuses on the pronouns “he”, “she”, and “they”. It’s a printable game that includes game cards that show either a girl, boy, or girl and boy as well as a food item. A child picks a card and labels it with whatever language targets you are working on. It could be “he/she is eating an ______” if you would like to use present progressive verb tenses or “they ate two apples” if you would like the child to use past tense verbs. It also has large pictures of a girl, boy, and girl and boy; as well as lots of small food picture cards that correspond to the foods on the game cards. Those pictures are sized to fit a square tissue box. I cut out the mouth areas on the picture and on the box, so when a child chooses a game card they can then find the matching food and feed it to the matching boy, girl, or boy and girl. After a child completes their turn they get to keep the game card and the player with the most cards at the end is the winner. To make the game more exciting, there are also “Ants! Lose a Card!” and “Ice Cream Truck! Take Another Turn!” cards.

I also included printable dice templates so that the game could be played in a more open-ended manner. To play the dice version of the game, roll both dice then choose a food picture that matches the food showing on the dice and feed it to the matching person/people while labeling what you are doing (i.e., “She is eating ice cream”).

If you do not want to put the pictures on a tissue box, you can also just tape them to the front of a sandwich baggie and cut out the mouth holes to still have an interactive game. I also thought this format  would be great to adapt to work on the dreaded “I” and “You” pronouns by putting a picture of the child and a parent or teacher on the box. Then you could take turns feeding each person targeting things like “I am eating a cookie” and “You are eating a banana”. Working on “I” and “you” is so tough I am constantly trying to think of ways to work on it!

I made the game to keep my preschoolers interested, but it works great with any age child who is working on pronouns. I used it with kids all the way up to third grade this week and got rave reviews!

If you would like the game, it is available on Teachers Pay Teachers here.

New Favorite Speech Therapy Circle Time Song

5 Sep

A while back I wrote about my Most Requested Circle Time Song and while the “We All Go Traveling By” book that my preschoolers fondly refer to as “the bus song” is still a hot pick in my preschool circle times a new song has taken over top spot.

It is called “Can An Elephant Jump” by ELF Learning and it is so entertaining and targets several language skills that lots of my preschoolers are working on. Here is a YouTube video of the song with some cute animation. You can either play the song there or download the whole album here. I bought the whole album because I think they have some great songs and I wanted to be able to play the song during circle time.

The song is fantastic for targeting asking questions, answering yes/no questions and verbs. I created visuals with Boardmaker to go with each part of the song to give my kids visual supports and they love looking at those too. I hope this song stays popular with my preschoolers this year because I never seem to get sick of it unlike some of my other popular songs (I’m looking at you Spider on the Floor!).

**I am not affiliated with ELF Learning and earn no money from them, just a big fan!

Multisyllabic Words Articulation and Language for Preschool

3 Sep

I always have a few little ones on my caseload working on multisyllabic words or decreasing syllable reduction. I’ve always struggled with getting enough repetitions out of my preschoolers in particular since drilling is usually not in the cards (literally, as in flashcards aren’t going to cut it with these busy bodies, ha!) Also, many of the picture sets I have seen out there have word targets that are not appropriate for preschoolers. I also rarely have a group of preschoolers that is working on articulation exclusively so I need activities that can target articulation goals as well. With those two things in mind I decided to create a packet of lots of hands on activities, targeting multisyllabic words that are appropriate for preschoolers, and with language activities integrated into them.

My Multisyllabic Words Articulation and Language Combo Pack I think fits the bill! It targets 10 three syllable animals (elephant, bumblebee, dinosaur…), 10 three syllable common items (banana, hamburger, camera…), and 4 four syllable items (watermelon, caterpillar…) in a variety of activities.

Multisyllabic Artic and Language PreviewContents of the pack are:

What Do You See? Animals! Book – repetitive line book targeting 10 three syllable animals, made in the format of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”

Multisyllabic Word Pacing Cards – Pacing cards for three and four syllable words, use the dots for kinesthetic and visual cueing, fold the dots under when the child doesn’t need the cueing any longer.

Multisyllabic Word Bingo – Bingo game boards targeting three and four syllable words

Multisyllabic Word WH Questions – questions targeting three and four syllable words, can be used in conjunction with the bingo game

Three Syllable Animals File Folder Game – file folder style matching game target three syllable animals, match the animals to the blank spots on the board.

Big and Little Three Syllable Word Cards – big and little picture cards for targeting three syllable words in phrases, qualitative concepts, and word combinations.

Here are some pictures of a few of the activities:

What Do You See PreviewPacing Cards PreviewFile Folder Game Preview

It’s available for download on Teachers Pay Teachers here. Hope you and your kiddos enjoy it!

A Great Halloween Speech Therapy Book

31 Oct

Halloween is tomorrow and I realized I forgot to share one of my favorite Halloween/fall themed books to use in speech therapy with my preschoolers! Fortunately, this book is good to use all fall long. While Go Away, Big Green Monster is probably my favorite book to read this time of year, “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything” by Linda Williams is a close second.

It’s a repetitive line book that adds new things on each page as the little old lady is walking home. She encounters shoes that “stomp, stomp”, pants that go “wiggle, wiggle”, and other things until finally she sees the pumpkin head that goes “Boo!” In the end, she uses all the things to make a scarecrow. My kids love imitating the sounds and actions for each of the various items and of course yelling “Boo!”

The book can be used to address a variety of speech therapy goals including imitation, clothing vocabulary, answering questions, and sequencing. One of my preschool classrooms makes a scarecrow just like the one in the book which expands the opportunities for language elicitation even more!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Also, see my post about free Halloween speech therapy printable activities here and my free Halloween articulation word searches here.

How to play with your child with autism – YouTube video

27 Jul

 

This YouTube video demonstrates some great skills for caregivers of young children with autism to learn when it comes to encouraging joint play and language skills. A few of the highlights:

  • Imitate: One of the best ways to establish a connection with a child with autism is to imitate their actions. Imitation is a core deficit for children with autism so trying to get your child to imitate your actions may often be unsuccessful and frustrating until they have mastered that skill. Instead of trying to get your child to imitate you, copy what they are doing and you may be surprised with the outcome!
  • Reduce your language: It’s often our first instinct to think we should inundate our children on the spectrum with lots of words and asking questions to get them using more words. Instead, focus on a few key words relevant to an activity your child is interested in. Make sure to follow your child’s eye gaze so that you know you are giving them words that correspond with what they are looking at. Also, don’t forget to include words other than nouns – action words (“up!”, “go!”) and exclamations (“uh-oh”, weeee!”) are often great words to focus on because they are motivating and fun.
  • Choose related toys: If you notice your child enjoys putting items in and taking them out of a familiar toy try to find other toys that have this feature and show your child how to use the new toy. Other aspects of toys that a child may be drawn to are spinning things, items that roll down, and noise making toys. Don’t be too disappointed if you think you have discovered a perfect toy that your child will love only for them to show no interest, that has happened to even the best teachers many times!

I think the most important aspect that the video shows is that “intervention” should be fun for the child and can be implemented by any person – not just therapists and teachers!

Most Requested Circle Time Book

24 Mar

I do a weekly speech therapy circle time/whole group activity in each of the special education preschool classrooms at my school so I am always on the lookout for engaging books and songs. We All Go Traveling By PB w CD (Sing Along With Fred Penner) is both!

The book comes with a CD that includes the song that goes along with the words and pictures in the book. Each page contains the repetitive text of “I spy with my little eye, you can hear with your little ear” and then adds a new vehicle and the sound that vehicle makes. For each vehicle, I use big gross motor movements for the kids to imitate (stomping feet for the rumble rumble of the truck, arms out for the vroom vroom of the plane).

The book is useful in many ways to address speech therapy goals. Working on requesting is a given because when I let kids pick a song, the “bus song” as we call it is usually the first request. The book has also increased the gross motor and verbal imitation skills of many of my students. The last page of the book shows all the vehicles so we use it to work on question asking and answering (“What’s your favorite?”).

The best part of this book is its amazing ability to capture the attention and bring out more communication from preschoolers of all different skill levels! The song is catchy so don’t be surprised if you find yourself humming it in the shower!

Verbal or Nonverbal, Picture Supports Can Help

27 Feb

As a speech pathologist working with preschoolers with autism of various communication levels I get lots of questions from parents and teachers about when we should use pictures to help a student communicate. My answer: All the time! One thing I hear a lot is “but he’s verbal he doesn’t need pictures” and I happen to disagree. For students with autism, especially those that are just starting to use words, pictures can be a tremendous support to expanding their communication.

The most common way to use pictures is to request items using the sentence structure of “I + want + item” which can be used for children who are just starting to put words together. You can see one of my little guys using pictures to make a request here.  Prior to introducing picture supports to him, he was able to make many one word requests but was having a hard time learning to combine words. Giving him the visual supports seems to have given him the boost that he needed and he is now combining many more words in his expressive language even when picture supports aren’t present.

It’s very important to realize that we can use picture supports for many more language forms than just requesting items. We can also use them for requesting and commenting on actions by providing pictures representing subjects, verbs, and objects. Once a child starts to learn that they can combine nouns and verbs to express requests and comments they are on their way to using true generative language.

The picture above shows a placemat for a student to use during snacktime that helps her make requests and comments relating to actions that may occur during snack. To use it she selects a subject (i.e. herself or a teacher), a verb (i.e. open, eat, pour), and an object (i.e. milk, crackers) and puts the pictures on a velcro sentence strip. This type of placemat can be modified to a child’s level to be one or two word combinations also.

Another way to work on word combinations using verbs is to use pictures of the student and familiar people involved in various actions. We work with the child to create phrases using the subject + verb + object structure. Kids often love looking at pictures of themselves and peers so I have found this activity to be very engaging for many kids. Because it is difficult for many children with autism to make spontaneous comments, the picture supports give them the structure and support they need to begin creating phrases to comment and describe actions.

These are just a few ways that we use picture supports to help expand verbal language. Hopefully they have helped to demonstrate why we should continue to provide picture supports to students even once they start using words.