Speech Box™ For Speech Therapy App Review

speechbox appI have been enjoying using the “Speech Box™” app by The Jonah Bonah Learning Company in my therapy sessions lately. As I explained to a speech pathology student shadowing me today, when you are in private practice, the percentage of certain types of cases ebbs and flows. Last year I had two students in middle school and this year I have one while the next oldest student is 7 years old. The mix changes so that I have many 4 and 5 year-old boys with articulation delays right now. Since there is much practice and dare I say “drill” involved with learning and making a new production a habit, we need lots of exciting ways to change up a similar lesson plan each week.

speechbox 2I use Articulation Station often with my students to “warm up” at the beginning of the session and for reference as we play games or do crafts as we practice our sounds. I was glad to receive a free copy of “Speech Box™” from Jonah Bonah Learning Company  because the 700 available photographs of mainly one-syllable words are different and applicable to a little older audience. Each sound box  contains pictures of the target sound in the initial, medial and final position of the word. They are as if thrown in a box, lying on top speechbox3of each other. That is part of the fun–kids have to move the pictures about, or tap them to expand to full screen where the audio repeats the target word. We had fun today, tapping on a little corner of sky, dirt, or a hat peeking out from the pile of photographs and guessing what the word was before it was revealed. The best part is swiping the finished word off the screen. My little guy yesterday sent his word “Up to heaven” and “Outside” as he engaged in a little pretend play with the direction he swiped the photos.

Helpful features:

  • 700 photographs of mainly one-syllable words to choose from
  • Easy, quick setup and loading of pictures
  • Flexible use for clients with apraxia, autism, Down’s Syndrome, language difficulties
  • Customizable–add your own boxes by child or category to be worked on
  • Share boxes with parents for practice

speechbox4Aside from having a great bank of pictures for practice, I like the customizable feature best. Kids LOVE to create their own box and fill it with photographs. I spent a whole session photographing lego models that my little client proudly held up for the camera as he enjoyed recording a name for his picture. When I was still on the learning curve, I accidentally put James’ pictures in Holden’s box but the kids had such fun with this. They didn’t know each other but enjoyed listening to another child emphasizing his target sounds.

I have only used this app for articulation therapy but plan to use the other category boxes for “family,” “foods,” “farm animals” etc. for language learning activities. The Box Store has specialized boxes for purchase such as “emotions,” “fairy tales” or “Christmas.”


Posted in 10 and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Apps, Apraxia, Articulation, Elementary School Age, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

How to Curb Rude Toddler Talk, Parents Magazine

Parents Magazine, Bossy TalkThe February issue of Parents Magazine just came out and Tamekia Reece wrote an excellent article addressing the topic of a toddler’s “Bossy Talk.” It is a well-rounded article describing a toddler’s increased verbal skills that as they take off can exhibit demanding, negative or rude remarks. The article looks at answers from several perspectives from experts in parenting, behavior, and speech and language. I was quoted as saying, “They (toddlers) don’t understand the subtleties of these phrases.” The article offers “a plan to promote politeness.” I have to insert here that some of the points can apply to preschoolers too, who could use a correction on their tone or words said to an adult.

  • “Keep your cool.” Kids can blurt out hurtful comments as they express themselves using language that they know or have heard. According to Erik Fisher, Ph.D., kids this age haven’t fully developed empathy so they don’t realize the impact of their words.
  • “Offer better alternatives.” It is important to give language models for your toddler to repeat that are appropriate in words and tone. This is where I continue to model for kids even as they are preschoolers and beyond such as I’d rather not do that, Sherry, instead of I’m not doing that! I’ve really found, Sure, Sherry to be helpful, too!
  • “Make her feel empowered.” Because toddlers love to be independent they might talk back or refuse to comply to assert themselves. Here is where a choice question is helpful. When they initially refuse to do something like go to bed or eat their dinner, offer a choice so they can be a bit in charge. I find that little ones get distracted by thinking about which option they will choose and therefore temporarily forget to be contrary!
  • “Watch your words and reactions.” Toddlers are learning their language by imitating things adults say in their world. They mimic some of the negative tones and phrases parents say as well as the positive reactions.  Remember who is listening!
  • “Accentuate the positive.” Why do we always need to be reminded that when we reinforce the good behavior we will see more of it? Telling your toddler that they did a nice job of using their words can go a long way.

Quotes are from the article mentioned above.

Posted in Birth-3 year-olds, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toddler | Leave a comment

Carryover Techniques in Articulation And Phonological Therapy, Review

coAs I have mentioned before, I  have several 3-5 year-olds on my caseload right now who are working on articulation goals and mastering sounds as they move toward carryover. Because every child is different–some learn their sounds and easily carry them over into conversation and others find it a hard process–I thought I would look for some resources for new ideas and methods to help.

I purchased Pam Marshalla’s book, “Carryover Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapy” which claims, “Hundreds of ideas from research and practical experience.” I had attended Pam’s workshop and found it to be excellent so I thought I would share some ideas I find helpful from her book and points I agree with after doing therapy for 35 years.

Even though I keep up relationships with other SLP’s, being in private practice can be isolating at times, as I miss the sharing of ideas and collaboration I had with other professionals when working in the schools for many years. That’s why reading Pam’s book was fun to feel reinforced in what I do and observe through years of articulation therapy. Here are some of her points that resonated with me:

  • Carryover of articulation or phonological skills can be compared to acting–kids must use their new skills in their everyday life
  • Overgeneralization can be “a beneficial skill because it signals a clumsy beginning to the generalization or carryover process.” How many times do we cringe when our kids working on/sh/ start using their new production for every /s/ too? I guess we can calm down.
  • Many research studies regarding carryover are included in Pam’s book which are helpful including one that had SLP’s rank the most effective carryover techniques, naming self-monitoring the most effective. I love to play games right away where my little clients give me a thumbs up or down according to their productions and mine (of course they love when I mess up!).
  • Carryover is part of a balance achieved in a therapy session, that of drill-like rehearsal and play. I agree with this point and start my sessions with “warm-up” time where I often use “Articulation Station” or “Speech Box” apps to go through a child’s target phonemes in the word position and level they are working on. Then we move to a board game, craft, or book for re-tell to practice their sounds.
  • Carryover begins the first day of therapy! This is a great point emphasizing that from the first day, kids should know what sound they are working on so they can focus on and listen for it “as he will be connecting his speech work into his life.”
  • Parents are busy so choose carryover requests wisely. I agree with this and learned this the hard way. Parents won’t practice unless it is simple and easy to add to their routine. I agree with Pam that “using key words works best.” Before Christmas I gathered a busy mom and dad of a boy working on /sh/around the Christmas tree and played a game of “Guess where an ornament is?” using the carrier phrase, “You should find______” It was such a simple activity that they couldn’t forget it.
  • Patience is critical to achieving carryover. Okay that’s not my best attribute so thanks for the reminder! I get so excited that my little client is producing a correct sound that I want him to say it all the time. Pam shares that she reminds herself of how hard it is to change the way we have been doing something by writing her name with her non-dominant hand several times to feel how difficult it is to change.
Posted in 10 and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Articulation, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 4 Comments

Best Speech Therapy Apps for Early Intervention: “Cookie Doodle”

screen568x568When I asked several early intervention therapists for their favorite apps for speech therapy, many included “Cookie Doodle” by  ”Shoe The Goose.” I agree! Kids love baking cookies and we therapists appreciate decorating them without the sticky frosting fingers and sprinkles everywhere! Be sure you have a sturdy case around your iPad before starting since the kids will be turning it to pour dry and wet ingredients. Select your recipe and start in dragging baking soda and chocolate chips into the bowl. Rotate a handle to sift flour, cut sticks of butter and tilt the iPad to pour the vanilla. This sequence makes the app adaptable to taking turns and pausing to add language models. Kids love to stir the ingredients with their fingers. Roll out the dough, press in a cookie cutter and start decorating with frosting and sprinkles. Of course the eating is the best with sound effects. Any good therapist would want to transfer all this fun to the real thing with a can of ready made frosting and some decorations to slap on a cookie, right? The fun of apps is that they bring a different dimension to our sessions but can be linked to the 3 dimensional life experience to reinforce the language lesson.


Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, play, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

What Toys Have Repeat Play? Christmas Presents Unwrapped

IMG_2169Christmas and the holidays are over and we have a chance to see what toys have “lasted” past the initial excitement and are really offering some creative play.

We had a great time hosting several of our grandchildren, including 5 year-old Ben who is our recent reader. He unzipped “Jumbo Bananagrams” and I found him spelling words on the floor. After he went home, his dad sent me this picture of his latest word. I tried to decipher his amazing invented spelling but needed a hint to come up with “electricity!” He apparently needed spy glasses to read it. Speaking of spy glasses, they are a prop in “Disney Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game” where kids take turns turning over two gold tokens to find a match, using Jake’s spyglass to decode secret clues. Finding a match, they flip over the timer and race to grab the same stand-up treasure–a bell, tiki, hat, sack of gold, or urn–snagging them with the foam sword. As much fun as the game is, it is equally thrilling for preschoolers to use the props in imaginary play. I found the spyglass in the car, under the tree, in the kids’ beds and at the breakfast table as well as the foam sword. Game play continued after a winner was declared.

It was fun to see PAL Award winners live up to their name as they provide lasting “smart play!”

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Games, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Best Speech Therapy Apps for Early Intervention: “Speech With Milo: Verbs”

screen480x480Although I use many apps designed for  typically developing kids, I also like to recommend apps that have been designed for children with special needs.  Speech with Milo by Doonan Speech Therapy, currently offers nine apps to build language skills. All are created by Poorani Doonan, a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. Each app offers instructions for speech therapists as well as parents. I’ve used and enjoyed “Speech With Milo-Sequencing” for older kids so I thought I would try “Speech With Milo-Verbs” for early intervention. Milo demonstrates 100 verbs, with the word named and written below the cartoon. Tap “Phrase” and hear, “Milo is pouring tea.”or “Milo is walking at the beach,” describing the scene.  Therapists can choose from the extensive verb list what words they want to target. I appreciate the Therapist Instructions, listing goals to address in developmental order. Those appropriate for 2-4 year-olds:

  • Teach action words
  • Present progressive verbs
  • Personal pronouns
  • Past tense verbs

Give Milo a break and feed him some cheese after several scenes to keep kids motivated!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds | Leave a comment

Happy Holidays from your PAL Family

Family picture with grandchildre 2013I hope you are all enjoying family time and maybe a few extra quiet moments reading a book or playing a game with your children or grandchildren. I am looking forward to 3 little boys arriving in 2 days and have just cleared the table for construction, art projects, and board games! I think rather than decorate Christmas cookies we will be getting gummy sharks at the candy store and generously lopping on frosting to hold our gummy octopus and sea animals. I’ll show a picture later:)

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Best Pictures Books for Christmas Gifts

TV Christmas book giftsYesterday I was interviewed by Gillian Neff at News12 CT on choosing those last minute books for Christmas gifts. I shared the following books for their rich language learning potential:

  • Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long: This is a wonderful early reader that manages to have a fun, engaging story with very few words for the new reader to master. A flap book, it’s fun for preschoolers too as they master the opposites of up/down, tall/small and high/low.
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley: Filled with rich vocabulary as well as bright, bold collage illustrations that invite conversation, this book is beautifully written. A little ant is dragging his piece of watermelon to share with his family colony and growing tired. Grasshopper’s buggy band inspires him to move on with their music. “With a heavy sigh, she persevered, though each blade of grass seemed to thwart her on this hot and humid day” includes so many strong words to build a child’s vocabulary that eventually positively impacts reading comprehension.
  • Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon: Sometimes a simple story and illustrations invite language as there are opportunities to talk about what is inferred in the story and drawings. This is the case with this story of friendship between a penguin and his little pinecone. Kids have pointed out details in the drawings that further the story that I didn’t even see!
  • Squirrels on Skis by J. Hamilton Ray: A delightful early reader with lots of zip and rhythm as the story unfolds about a town taken over by skiing squirrels. With plenty of fun words to swish and swoop through, the reader also gets cues from the lively, detailed cartoons that accompany the story.
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds | Leave a comment

Best Speech Therapy Apps for Early Intervention, “My PlayHome”

screenshot-garden-smallI’ve been asked to write an article on my favorite apps to use in early intervention speech therapy so I will share some of my favorites over the next few weeks.

First of all, typically I don’t use tablets and apps with my little clients under the age of 2 because I believe the research that says children that age learn better through three dimensional play, not screens.

Also I will admit I jumped on board when everyone was trying apps with their students as kids love games on a tablet and it provided a new way to deliver therapy. I’ve now heard from other colleagues that they also have pulled back a bit and found a balance between traditional therapy materials and apps.

That being said, here is my first review of “My PlayHome” by Shimon Young, a digital interactive dollhouse where kids can move from room to room or floor to floor, open a cupboard and pour themselves a bowl of cereal, fry an egg on the stove, get dressed, go to bed and pull up the covers, turn on the TV, pour drinks, take a shower, or move outside to ride on a tire swing. I’ve used it with 2 year-olds to work on naming single words as well as generating 2-word combinations. Kids 3 and 4 were fascinated with all the interactions available in each room, as well as the outside garden, practicing verbs as well as carrier phrases for their articulation goals, “She IS swinging,” “He IS driving the ship,” or “Mom IS watering the garden.” Each screen has several characters to drag into the room that become interactive–jump on the trampoline, get dressed, lie down in bed, sit in a chair or eat pizza. They provide a nice opportunity to work on pronouns too.

Possible goals to work on with this app:

  • Vocabulary
  • Single word naming or 2-word combinations
  • Categories
  • Syntax: verbs, pronouns, prepositions
  • Following directions
  • Articulation
  • Fluency



Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Apps | Leave a comment

5 Lessons Learned From Playing Board Games

Race to the Treasure Will RThe holidays say family time and as the snow falls and forces us inside by the fire, we have a perfect time to pull out a favorite board game to name each other’s doodles, race for some treasure or spin a story from picture cubes. What can kids learn from playing board games? 1. Social language: Kids learn the language of social skills as they take turns, respond to a player’s last move and are good sports win or lose. Preschoolers have a harder time reigning in their desire to win,  so cooperative games are a great choice for their game cupboard. Here, emphasis is taken off of competing against other players and on teaming to overcome the ogre, cat or villain. I’m constantly modeling “Great job” or “Nice playing” for kids to encourage each other when they lose. Race to the Treasure by Peaceable Kingdom Players begin Race to the Treasure by taking turns drawing path cards to make a continuous line from START to the treasure, collecting 3 keys to unlock the treasure  before the Ogre beats you to it! Lots of conversation ensues when players are strategizing on where to put their path card to get to the treasure the fastest in this cooperative learning game. Animal Soup- The Mixed Up animal_soup_850 Kids loved moving around the forest game board, collecting animal picture cards to combine into a  “croctopus,” “birdle” or “squale”–(crocodile+octopus, bird+turtle, or squirrel+whale). Thankfully they have a “trade” option to negotiate with a peer for the animal to complete their creature. Kids laugh as they practice saying the goofy names of their new animals, use language to negotiate a trade, and talk about which animals they need. 2. Concepts: Children learn counting, first, next, last as they take turns and move their pirates, or gingerbread man in a game. I find that kids often verbalize their position such as, “I am only 2 spaces behind you,” or “I just need 3 more to get in front of you.” Using spacial words like “more, less, first, next, last,” throughout a game builds vocabulary. What’s It? by Peaceable Kingdom GMF1_SPREAD What’s It? is a cooperative game where players interpret doodle cards and score points for thinking alike. Roll the dice with category options such as you love it, use it, wear it, or don’t want it,  flip over a doodle card, and record at least 3 guesses based on the drawing and category, trying to think like your fellow players.  Thinking in categories is a higher level language activity as players have to call up vocabulary within a narrower class of words. Disney Sofia the First Magical Tea Party by Wonder Forge Wonerforge Tea Party Little girls love a tea party as they “earn” treats by blowing on their teacup to spin a color, or squeezing the air puffer Teapot. Encouraging good manners, this game  seamlessly integrates pretend play with fun, beginning game play. Children are exercising matching, decision-making, good manners and language skills as they pour a cup of tea for a friend before themselves, decide where to place their treats, learn colors and chat it up at the tea party! 3. Language of grammar: Some board games are designed to require asking questions, adding on to a story using conjunctions, or describing using rich adjectives for players to guess their object. Repeated practice using specific parts of speech strengthens language skills. Who Am I? by HABA  Who am I? An astronaut? Rain boots? Or a fried egg? The “Guesser” straps on the headband holding a picture card.  Through a series of yes/ no questions, the child determines what picture is on his forehead. Asking and answering questions, thinking in categories and deductive reasoning all play into a great language building experience. Rory’s Story Cubes-Voyages by Gamewright gw064 Take a trip with Rory’s Story Cubes Voyages, using the 54 images to generate epic stories! Players took off in many directions, inspired by the 9 6-sided cubes depicting images from a pirate, giant, staircase, glasses, cracked egg, to a musical note, puzzle piece or rain cloud. Players enjoy solo story telling or group productions, adding on cubes as they expand their stories. 4.  Emergent reading skills: As kids approach school age they are interested in letters as they recognize them on signs and cereal boxes. Fun games that incorporate reading skills are like popping yummy vitamins. Zingo Sight Words by Thinkfun. Kids get so absorbed in this game of Bingo, sliding the “zinger” that they don’t realize they are learning to recognize and read words that aren’t easy to learn but make up for 50-75% of the words in written material. uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game and FREE App by uKloo. Kids love a treasure hunt so get out the clues and don’t let on that they are learning to read in the process! uKloo provides a “Picture Helper” chart to reference words they don’t know, as they race through the house following directions to arrive at the prized “Surprise” card at the end. Download their new FREE app. Spell Trek by Simply Fun.  Hop on a jeep and start your trip across a game board of desert, ice capped mountains, rain forest and tropics to capture animals and sites by photograph filling in the vowels to advance to win. 5. Language of critical thinking and reasoning: As children get older they enjoy games that require some strategy, involving predicting, inferring, and cause-effect as they lay out their game plan. Qualities by SimplyFun qualities.large-1 SimplyFun’s game “Qualities” is a natural language catalyst and a creative way to get to know and be known by friends.  Up to seven players take turns identifying and rating certain qualities in themselves. What do I find more relaxing? Organizing, going to a park or visiting a museum? Or rate a player’s traits from aspiring, balanced, or commanding! So much conversation ensues as players defend their positions and reveal who is best “known” by their player peers. Doodle Jump by Ravensburger 26608 Adapting the popular app to a board game, Ravensburger has added significant math learning and strategy, that generates conversation and thinking out loud. Doodle Jump, now a hands-on board game experience, challenges players to roll the 6 die to combine and count them as needed to match a number on the the reachable pads, strategizing as  you aim for certain jumps and utilize special tiles while taking risk with subsequent rolls. A game for 8 years and up, we were surprised by all the table talk as kids figured out their next move.

Posted in 10 and up, 12 years and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Games, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 1 Comment