(This post originally appeared on the GeekSLP Blog)
In the spirit of Halloween I have decided to look at a few Halloween themed apps that can be used by parents and speech therapists to improve children’s language skills. I have been doing therapy mostly with the little ones, so sometimes I am very bias towards talking about apps that can be used by the preschoolers and kindergarteners; this time I will try VERY HARD to find apps that you guys can also use with our older crowd, deal?
I will also try to give some ideas of activities that you guys can implement. Sometimes I think we forget that even though the iPhone and the iPad are great tools, we still need to be part of the process of improving our children’s language and articulation skills. The technology may lead us to expect that the apps will be doing all the work for us, but please SLPs and parents: do not let it! Language and communication are an interactive process and we should be using the apps as tools only, not the be all resource. I hope you guys like the recommendations I have this time.
1. Parents Carve-a-Pumpkin
This app allows you to “carve” your own pumpkin without getting dirty and without having to use a knife. It is great to work on body parts: eyes, mouth, nose, etc by having the child say which part she will build next before allowing them to move the parts.
This app is also great to help students with some adjectives: spiky, happy, scary, etc. If you also want to teach some geometrical forms let your child “cut” it by hand. It is compatible with the iPod and the iPad. In the end you can let the child e-mail and print their own pumpkins.
2. Cookie Doodle
This is by far my favorite one! you get to make your own halloween themed cookie.
First you pick your dough type, then you have to make the dough nice and smooth for your cookie, select the format, and you get to bake and decorate it! The opportunities for building language skills here are endless. Even if you are working on improving fluency skills, this will give you plenty of room for conversation and interaction.
With this app you can teach the child vocabulary words:
Verbs: bake, crack, mix, cut, bake, tap, pour, shake, eat, mix.
Nouns: plates, cookie, dough, cookie cutter, tablecloth, colors, all sorts of flavors, vanilla, salt, chocolate, butter, ghosts, cat, pumpkin, spider, etc.
Because this app also contains other cookie cutters themes you can also use for other festivities.
3. Dot! Connect HalloweenThis is a simple connect the dots app. I purchased this app thinking it would give me some more room for language development; however, I had to be very creative here to try to use it for therapy. The only idea I was able to come up with was using it as a tool for articulation therapy. Every time the child produces the target word you allow them to connect one dot, this way they know how many times they will have to trill that /r/( I guess I am thinking Spanish therapy here!). The Zombie picture has 48 dots, so 48 words for articulation practice!
This is an interactive book that uses sign language interpreters to tell and model the story. This app can be used to model appropriate fluency skills at the phrase level, as well as numbers and signs at the phrase level ( I caught myself trying to imitate the interpreter and learn some signs myself!)
Remember the apps are just tools, parents and speech therapists must take the next step in building the communication. Happy Halloween!
Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual speech and language pathologist. She is the director of Smarty Ears and the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. She is a an active participant of the Texas Speech and Hearing Association as a member of the TSHA Culturally and linguistically diverse issues task force. Barbara has created over 15 applications for speech therapists.