Speech Therapy Apps - Mobile Education Store

Speech Therapy Apps -  Mobile Education Store

 This review is courtesy of Wynsum Arts' Every App Has a Story, the stories behind Wynsum Arts' distinguished apps.

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In July, Wynsum Arts spoke with Kyle Tomson, founder of Mobile Education Store, and we profiled his LanguageBuilder app. Since then, the company has released a couple of new speech therapy apps. Because the apps build on each other as a child’s language skills develop, we want to provide you with an overview of all the company’s apps

Apps that Help with Expressive Speech and Social Skills

Question Builder

The QuestionBuilder app helps children develop pragmatic language skills. Tomson developed the app to teach his daughter Caitlyn how to respond appropriately to questions. At the time, Caitlyn echoed questions and Tomson wanted to create an app that allowed children to practice correct responses. “I was worried about Caitlyn memorizing all of the questions and answers, so I created an enormous database of content for this app,” he says. “There are more than 1,200 questions for children to practice answering. Caitlyn didn’t even finish going through the app because she mastered the skill before she got through all the images.”


Language Builder Deluxe


LanguageBuilder is based on a simple concept, where a child looks at a picture and comes up with a one-sentence story about that picture. Within different levels, the app can prompt children with hints designed to help them learn to talk about the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘where’ in the picture. Children can record their sentences in their own voices and play it back to themselves; this feature is extremely motivating to children.


Story Builder

StoryBuilder helps children take their narrative-building skills to the next level.  Instead of coming up with one sentence about what is happening in the image, StoryBuilder prompts children to think about the entire story line: What do you think happened in the past? What is happening now? And what do you think will happen in the future? The app includes audio clips of questions to help guide narrative formation. Children record their responses to the questions and their answers to individual questions are played back as a full story.


Conversation Builder

At the next level, ConversationBuilder helps children who understand narrative to improve social skills and pragmatic use of language. Once children can look at a scene and infer the story line, they are ready to learn how to start a conversation and work on back and forth conversational skills.  With the ConversationBuilder app, children develop a conversation based on an image and responses to peer or group discussions. In the one-on-one conversation setting, a child records his side of a conversation in response to pre-recorded audio clips on the iPad. These conversations are guided by hints offered by the iPad. Alternately, group discussions are built among several different children who pass the iPad back and forth. These conversations are not guided by hints from the iPad. In both cases, children record their snippets of conversation and then they can hear the entire conversation played back to them.

The company will soon release ConversationBuilderTeen, which features pictures and topics more suited to stimulating conversation among teenagers. This app will have more than 3,000 audio clips to help teens learn proper conversational skills.


Apps that Teach Sentence Structure

Sentence Builder

One of the first apps that Tomson created was SentenceBuilder. He says, “My daughter jumbled her words. She would use the right words but in the wrong order. SentenceBuilder gives kids a visual tool to help them learn the proper order.” The app helps children understand that sentences should talk about who, what and where and which words they should use to connect the parts of sentences. (SentenceBuilderTeen features images and topics suitable for older kids.)


Rainbow Sentences

Rainbow Sentences also teaches children to form grammatically correct sentences. At the lower levels of play, the app features color-coded chunks of sentences --  broken into who, what, where and why. At a more complex level, the sentences are not color-coded and children must drag and drop individual words in the correct order. This app is popular in mainstream classes at lower grade levels, Tomson notes. The iPad plays audio clips to “read” the words as users drag words in order to facilitate use by children who cannot yet read. Once a child has formed a sentence, he can use the record feature to record the sentence in his own voice.


Apps that Teach Parts of Speech

Preposition BuilderTomson notes that it is often difficult for kids who struggle with language to understand words like ‘in,’ ‘under,’ and ‘over.’ It is much easier for these kids to grasp nouns. But an app that provides a visual learning experience, like PrepositionBuilder, can help kids understand the meanings of words that are less concrete. PrepositionBuilder presents students with an image, a sentence with a missing preposition, and three possible prepositions to complete the sentence. Children should choose the preposition that correctly describes what is happening in the image. The app “reads” the completed sentence aloud to the child, and then the child has the option to record the sentence and play it back in her own voice.

Interestingly, PrepositionBuilder takes advantage of teaching opportunities when kids choose the “wrong” preposition. Instead of just signaling that the chosen word is incorrect, the app will display a new picture reflecting the student’s sentence. “Some of the pictures are very funny -- for example, a cat on the car instead of in the car,” Tomson says. “Really, this method of teaching means there are no ‘wrong’ answers -- and students are learning proper preposition use even if they are just guessing at answers. This type of visual learning is so important for children with autism.”


Tense Builder

TenseBuilder uses the same teaching philosophy. In level two, the app visually illustrates the sentence created by the child even when the child chooses an incorrectly conjugated verb. In level one, the app explains three different tenses of the same verb by using a short animated clip and pausing action to appropriately teach future, present and past tenses. For irregular verbs, the app visually shows common mistakes and corrects the errors. For example, when explaining the past tense of the word “catch,” the app shows “catched” on the screen and explains that the past tense of regular verbs end in -ed. A big animated X appears over the word “catched” as the app explains that catch is an irregular verb and the past tense takes the form “caught.”

“The tools teachers have in the classroom don’t work for every child -- if they did my own daughter wouldn’t be struggling with language,” Tomson says. “Our apps approach teaching in a different way. Our apps are all very visual, interactive and engaging. We present information in a way that visual learners can process -- which helps with retention.”

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