My Favorite Speech & Language Apps: Part 1

By: Jennifer Tripoli M.S., CCC-SLP

“Can we play on your iPad?” is often the first question I get when a child enters my therapy room!  These kids, often referred to as the “digital generation”, are drawn to anything with a screen.  Though electronic overuse can be an issue with kids today, I am forever grateful for Steve Jobs and the people at Apple for opening up another world of speech therapy (a very BIG one!). Since the iPad’s release in 2010, the app world has exploded, especially in regards to educational apps for children. There are hundreds of blogs and websites dedicated to app use in speech therapy. This blog post will not be a comprehensive list of all the apps that can be used to promote speech/language development. There are thousands of apps, so I will touch on a few of my favorites at the moment and provide resources for exploring others.

A few of my favorite apps for development of speech/language/cognitive skills:

1. Anything Toca Boca!
This is my favorite app company for little ones. They have interactive apps that I use to target early language skills and pretend play. Try these apps to target pretend play schemes in a different way!

Visit their website for many more great apps.

2. Popplet by Notion
Price: $9.99
Not sure about it?  Try the lite version here for free!

Popplet is a visual learning app that can be used to target higher level language (word relationships, categories, compare/contrast, story retelling) and executive functioning skills (organizational skills, planning, generating ideas)

Here’s a pic of my client’s “popplet”. This visual representation assisted her in retelling 5 things she did over winter break

popplet

3. Toontastic by Launchpad Toys
Price: $9.99 for the app, other scenes/characters available for an additional cost

  • An award winning app that makes your child’s cartoons come to life!
  • Great for speech language skills: story retelling, sequencing, using complete sentences, working on pronouns, understanding emotions and much much more!
  • Kids follow the story arc to structure their story (setup, conflict, challenge, climax, resolution), choose a setting, pick the characters, animate, and set it to music!
  • Can save these videos or share them!
  • Also, check out Toontastic Jr. which is recommended for kids 3 years and older

4. Peekaboo Barn by Night and Day studios
Price: $1.99
Peekaboo Barn
Not sure about purchasing the full app? Download the lite version here for free!

  • Interactive app aimed at toddlers
  • Typical farm animals (cow, pig, horse, chicken, etc.) are hiding in the barn! Touch the barn and surprise! Out pops an animal
  • I have used this in therapy to work on cause/effect, use of exclamations (ooh! Wow! Whoa!), and use of words “open”, “out”, “knock knock” to name a few
  • This app is recommended for “toddlers”, but please keep in mind the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics on screen time for children under the age of 2 years old.

How do I incorporate the iPad into my treatment sessions? Moderation is key! Lately, I feel as if iPads and other electronic devices are getting a bad rap in regards to overuse. Just like anything else, we need to set limits for our kids. Many kids would play on the iPad the whole session if I allowed this (I don’t!). I try to alternate activities between electronic and non-electronic throughout the session. When alternating activities, it keeps the child more engaged within therapy activities. Using iPad apps in therapy offers a wide variety of ways to target specific skills and assists with generalization of skills. It gives me another platform to practice certain speech/language/cognitive skills.

Here are some great websites that review/suggest speech and language related apps:

Bridging Apps
Moms with Apps
Therapy App 411
Technology in (SPL) Education
te@chthought
Speech Language Neighborhood
Apps for Children with Special Needs

Want to learn about how to use your iPad’s video camera for changing your child’s behaviors? Click here!

Do you need more play ideas for your child that aren’t electronic? Check out my last blog here that gives toy ideas by age! Click here!

 STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

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