I have been a speech therapist for almost 10 years, and for those 10 years I have lugged around the same gigantic book that contains lists of sounds in all positions of words, phrases, and sentences. My book is now falling apart and my arms are tired from carrying this book around. A few weeks ago I came across an iPad application called Word Vault.
Word Vault is exactly what it sounds like....a speech therapist's dream of 30,000 words, sentences, stories, and more! The creators over at Home Speech Home were generous enough to let me try the app, and I am now convinced that they have created a brilliant and convenient way to eliminate carrying around those large manuals of words.
The articulation vault brings up a list of sounds, and from there you can choose the number of words on the screen, the word position of the target sound, and number of syllables.
The therapist can have up to 8 word lists open in order to save time in group therapy. The app creator provides this list of ways to use the app for articulation therapy.
Syllable Level - use the “Non-sense Syllables” list for quick practice.
Imitated Word Level - no pictures makes the younger child have to imitate.
Spontaneous Word Level - increases productions in the reading child.
Sentence Level - client can create a sentence using the word on the screen or read from the “Sentences” list.
Reading Level - “Shorter Stories”, “Longer Narratives”, “Problem Solving Scenarios”, “Social Scenarios”, and “Inferencing” provide quick reading material.
Conversation Level - client can use all the words on the screen to tell a story or use “Conversation Starters”, “Story Starters”, or “Social Scenarios” as a prompt.
In addition to articulation, the app also contains a language vault, phonology vault, an a social skills vault. The language vault contains a huge amount of skills that students can work on.
The phonology vault has useful things such as difficult blends, minimal pairs, and multisyllabic words. Last year I spent sometime creating a list of r/w minimal pairs, but this app does all of that for you so that you would never be caught in the middle of a session trying to think of minimal pairs for words.
Last, the social vault contains a lot of skills that are abstract and can be difficult for some kids. The conversation starters alone contains 43 different topics!
I can think of so many ways to use this app. I have already paired it with basketball, and next week will use it alongside a game of Uno. So, for example on basketball day I have the students roll a dice and then work on the coordinating number of skills. Once they have worked on their words or language skills, they are allowed that same number of shots in basketball. I no longer have to have multiple materials, books, or sets of cards out for therapy. I can just use this app and work on all types of goals. Did I mention that there is an icon on the screen to email straight from the app the exact things you are working on in therapy? I love any convenient way to have parent's involvement in reinforcing learned skills.
The only thing I would like to add in this app is the ability to record students production of the sounds and/or keep data. I have access to two iPads at work, so last week I used one iPad for the list of sounds and recorded the students with the other iPad using QuickVoice. You could also use an iPhone to record the students.
Overall, I think this app will provide years of usefulness. It's a little higher priced than I pay for most speech and language apps, but to me it is worth every penny when you think of how much one therapy manual costs. Thank you Luke, for letting me try out this wonderful app and I look forward to using it for many therapy sessions ahead!
I love my iPad!
Using the iPad in therapy is one of my students favorite things to do. From my preschoolers to my 5th graders, they all request "the hair salon game". So, typically after directly targeting their speech goals I will give them each 2-3 minutes in the Toca Boca Hair Salon. At home, you too can allow your children to use this app, but I encourage you to do so intentionally. Rather than leaving your child alone with the iPad so that they're quiet and isolated, use it as an opportunity to enhance their speech and language skills.
As they are changing their client's hair you can ask them questions to work on present progressive verbs, past tense verbs, speaking in complete sentences, naming colors, pronouns and more. For example, while the child is playing I may say, "What are you doing to your person right now?" I am looking for the student to respond with something like, "I am dying (or painting) his hair green." In that one sentence I can get an idea of their understanding of using present progressive verbs, their ability to speak in complete sentences, their use of pronouns, and their knowledge of colors. If the child responds with an incorrect statement about their person, such as "her hair blue." I can gently correct and provide a model of correct sentence structure. I may go back a few steps and reteach colors or present progressive verbs.
This app can also be used to enhance student's receptive language skills. If they are currently working on following multi-step directions, I may provide them with 2-3 step directions and see if they can follow them. For example, in the beginning I may say, "When you open the app I want you to choose the bear, dye her hair green, and put two bows near her ears." Hopefully the child will be able to utilize the strategies they've previously been taught in order to recall all 3 directions, but if they can only remember one maybe take a break and reteach how to recall multistep directions.
Other ideas, have the student answer wh- questions about their picture or work on their ability to describe the picture. Who is your person, where are they going after the hair salon, what are two things you did you do to your person, and when was their appointment. Sometimes I allow the child to play with the app for 1-2 minutes uninterrupted and then ask the wh-questions. I may get a response such as, "My person's name is Bella and she is going to the prom, so I washed her hair and dyed it green. Her appointment was on Monday." Again, if the child's goals are centered around using past tense verbs, describing, answering wh-questions, or speaking in complete sentences this is great practice.
Articulation therapy can be incorporated into any activity. After reviewing your child's speech sounds, you could challenge them to use 5 words that contain their sound in describing their picture. So if the child is working on the /r/ sound. They may say their client's name is Harry the Wolf, his hair is sticking straight up, and he is going to a rock concert. If the child is too young to answer in complete sentences I may just give them the words containing their target sounds that I want them to practice.
Sometimes I use it as a reinforcement activity. After the child has practiced 10 words, they earn 1 minute in the hair salon. At home you can work on 10 words, take a 1 minute break using the app, and then practice the 10 words again.
You can use this app to talk about basic concepts (the hair is sticking up, now brush it down), feelings (how is this person feeling about their hair?), and to allow them to speak or write creatively. Give them the writing or speaking prompt regarding their hair salon client and then let them be creative and elaborate the story.
Speech and language skills have to be incorporated into kid's daily lives. We work hard in therapy to improve the student's communication skills, but when things are reinforced at home they learn that speech and language skills are just not things they work on at school, but actual concepts that can be fun and are important to their everyday life. Technology is a wonderful thing when it's used as a fun learning tool. I will soon be posting other ideas on using the iPad at home!
I love my first session with my kids. It's always exciting to see how my students have grown and matured. They are so proud that they are in a new grade and eager to share about their new teacher who most always are described as "nice". The first speech session of the school year is always a bit casual. We review my one rule....Respect yourself and others, and talk about when they will come to speech each week. Then I asked them each to complete a worksheet about their summer break and about their favorite things. All of the kids love to talk about their summer adventures and their favorite things. What they don't know is that while they are eagerly sharing with the group about themselves, I am silently assessing how their speech and language skills have improved or regressed over the summer break. As your children shared adventures on the beach, road trips, camps, and homemade snow cones, I was able to listen for sentence structure, articulation in natural conversation, and their use of social skills.
The next thing we do on our first speech session of the school year is I ask them to write one word that best describes themselves on the iPad and then I take their picture for my wall. This image to the right illustrates how your children see themselves. One of my hopes for my students is that they would grow into the adjectives they used. I want all of them to feel awesome, loving, and smart in my room. I want each of them to be nice, fun, and active during therapy. I hope that they learn that words like cute and pretty go beyond how they look externally and are actually much more about their attitudes and actions. Of all the adjectives that were said this week, I think my two favorites are excited and joyful. If we (me included!) can all approach each day with a sense of excitement and joy I know we will have a great year. I am not really sure how I will incorporate the description of "fast" into my therapy each day, but I love the confidence behind that word!
I hope that your kids had a great first week of school and that they greeted you with smiles each afternoon. Next week we are going to get busy on working on their individual goals and really working hard to make them effective communicators.
Happy LONG weekend!
A new school year is upon us. As you and your children filled the halls this morning I saw smiles, tears (mainly from moms of new kindergarteners!), and an overall excitement about a new beginning. Students and teachers are both starting refreshed and filled with ideas on how this is going to be their best year yet!
In order for me to make it my best year, I want to improve my communication with you all. Hence the birth of my own website and blog!! I want you to know what your child does in speech and how you can help them at home. My goal is to post one or two times per week on the blog so that there is always new information. Some of the material may be more for other therapists to gain ideas, some may be personal thoughts, but mostly I hope to make it a resource for parents and students.
I am working out a few kinks in my schedule, but I hope to officially start therapy on Wednesday, August 28th. Be sure to ask your kids what they did in speech this week and what they think of my newly redesigned room. I figured it was time to update a few things in my speech room since I spend so much of my time here! I hope that the students find it comfortable and a place for fun learning!
I welcome any feedback or questions, so feel free to email me, leave a comment, or fill out the contact me page on the website. As I sign off, know that I love my job and I love watching kids learn how to communicate effectively. It's more than a job to me, it's my small contribution in making this world a more beautiful place. Looking forward to this new beginning!!