EGWs6uuBZ3pp-zGuVVdmeLgkJG4 Across the Avenue: Mobile Education's Language Apps for Kids and Teens #educationalapps #SLPapps

Mobile Education's Language Apps for Kids and Teens #educationalapps #SLPapps

As an SLP, I'm always looking for innovative ways for my clients to interact with language. By the time many kids with language impairments reach the school-age years, they have developed negative feelings about their academic skills. This can lead to avoidance, shut-down, and push back during therapy sessions...unless they are packed with high-interest, fun activities that allow kids to enjoy learning. Since the sight of an iPad seems to put a smile on my school-age kids' faces, I've been trying to find solid language apps that I can incorporate into parts of our sessions to meet their goals. One app that was introduced to me by a client who liked using it with a prior SLP is called Sentence Builder. It was created by Mobile Education and aligns with her grammar goals perfectly. Turns out, Mobile Education has a wide variety of language apps that target goals well and bring excitement to traditional therapy sessions! I've trialed nine of their most popular apps and provided my thoughts below...

About the Apps
Sentence Builder App: This app displays a photograph on the screen with a corresponding sentence wheel above it. The sentence wheel offers a variety of parts of speech choices that require the player to align correctly in order to describe the picture. If the player gets it right, a funny animation appears to congratulate them. Then the child receives audio feedback about their answer to reinforce correct grammatical choices. If the child answers incorrectly, they receive words of encouragement such as "That was so close! Keep trying!" The app offers a 'Stats' tracker that collects data and allows you to email it to yourself or parents. Truly a time saver.

How I Use It: I like to use this app as the final activity in my lessons to see if my client can put everything she's learned about syntax together. As she builds the sentence, I require her to read it out loud to me. If she creates an error, we talk about the part of speech that she's gotten wrong and how it relates to the picture clues that support the sentence. She's so proud of herself when she gets the sentence right and she gets a kick out of using the spinning wheel feature to line up the answers. While I like to use Sentence Builder as the last activity in my syntax lesson, It would make a great informal pre-test or stand alone activity to meet grammar goals as well.

Sentence Builder Teen App: This app is similar to the Sentence Builder app above, with a photograph on the screen and a corresponding sentence wheel. However, the Teen app version cuts out the funny animation to create a more mature experience. This is really important with older kids who may not otherwise engage in activities if they feel that they are juvenile. After the teen creates a response, they will receive audio feedback about their answer to reinforce correct grammatical choices or encourage them to try again. The app also offers a 'Stats' tracker that collects data and allows you to email it to yourself or parents.

How I Use It: With my older kids who are more aware of syntactical construction, I like to use this as an introduction to the session. It engages them right away and I get much less push back on follow up activities once they've gotten some "app time". I often use it as a way to see how carryover is going from session to session and it helps me to identify weaknesses that we need to focus on during the current session.

Rainbow Sentences App: If you are a fan of sentence diagramming or use color coding to teach word types, you'll like this app. It shows a picture scene with color coded blank lines above it and a jumbled sentence below it. The words in the jumbled sentence are color coded, too. Kids drag the word parts to the blanks above to create a complete sentence that describes the picture. When they organize it correctly, audio feedback plays to reinforce grammatical choices and a puzzle piece reward is given to uncover the hidden picture. The app also offers a 'Stats' tracker that collects data and allows you to email it to yourself or parents.

How I Use It: I love diagramming sentences and color coding parts of speech. I find it very helpful for my visual learners to help build lexical categories and I often use color coded parts of speech cards that they can physically manipulate to build sentences. The Rainbow Sentences app pairs so nicely with my hands-on activities and my school-age kids love to have technology time while practicing skills.

Conversation Builder: Begin by choosing one of five conversational topics: Basic conversation, Animals, Friends Around Town, Holidays, or the Playground. An image about the topic pops up and audio plays to ask questions such as "How would you start this conversation?" The child chooses an answer from a field of three. Once they've selected the correct response, hit the "Record" button and the child reads it aloud. Questions build on each other. At the end of the activity, kids can play back the entire conversation, hearing their own voice as one of the conversational partners! As simple as this app is, my clients love it. At the end of the session, you can save it and email results. There's also an 'Achievements' section that allows kids to see what they've accomplished within the app.

How I Use It: This app has been super helpful for my client that perseverates ons the topic of 'dogs' and has quite a bit of difficulty with conversational turn-taking. We engage in quite a bit of talking about the picture and the option choices when we use the app, but I've already begun to fade cues throughout the activity. I love it as a tool to dig into conversational rules.

Story Builder: This app can be used in so many ways. Choose from three different levels depending on your client's needs. An image is shown and depending on the level, a question is presented with audio accompaniment or audio instructions are given to 'Make a story about the picture. Make sure to use complete sentences.' Kids can record their answers or stories and play them back. It can be used as a fantastic authentic assessment tool to play back for parents when discussing progress.

How I Use It: Most of my kids love to record their voices and hear them back again. It provides a fun way introduce self-monitoring and allows us to discuss their conversational skills in real-time. I also really enjoy the pictures that this app provides and often use them to sneak some explicit grammatical skill practice (pronouns, adjectives, etc.). You can also import your own pictures, which is a great way to amp up engagement.

Expressive Builder: This app is similar to the Story Builder app in that it shows an image and asks the child to record a sentence about it. If the child is having difficulty at level 1, they can choose the 'Hint' button and a fill-in-the-blank sentence will appear. In level 2, only the first few words of a potential sentence will be displayed. At level 3, an audio hint is provided with suggested words to use. I highly recommend using this app together, so that you can provide educational support. It's a really nice way to gauge their skill level and assess the amount of cueing needed. You can also import pictures into this app to customize it as well.

How I Use It: I use this app in much the same way as I use the story builder app. I love the 'Hint' option at each level and it's helpful to see if it provides enough support for the child to create a sentence or if I'm going to need to really talk it through with them. It definitely makes documentation of the cueing hierarchy easy.

Preposition Builder: This app allows you to choose from 9 different sets of prepositions. A colorful image is presented to the child with a fill-in-the-blank sentence about it above. The child selects between a field of three prepositions below the image and drags their choice to the blank. If the answer is incorrect, the app shows a new picture that demonstrates the incorrect choice to provide reinforcement of the word they chose. Then it shows the original picture and tells them to try again. When the correct answer is chosen, audio feedback is provided to reinforce the answer.

How I Use It: My clients really love this app! For my little ones that can't quite read yet, I read the sentence to them and provide the choices. I find it easy to utilize the cueing hierarchy with this app when we are completing it together. (Sometimes I turn the audio settings off if I expect to have longer discussions per item.) Many of my kiddos are already self-sufficient in using the app. The 'Stats' button provided makes data collection easy and allows you to email the information to yourself or a parent.

Tense Builder: This app offers two different levels, a long or short version, and the option to create a max field of 7 choices total. You can set the activity to future, present, or past tense regular or irregular verbs, or select a mix of all. On top of that, you can also select specific verbs from a list to customize your sessions further! I really like this feature.

The activity begins with a verb at the top of the screen and a short animated clip showing the verb in action. Then picture images from the clip are presented to the child, along with a descriptive sentence. The child needs to tap on the image that matches the picture. Audio feedback is given to explain why the answer is correct or incorrect. When correct, the child will also record the sentence before moving on to the next item.

How I Use It: This is such an engaging app that my clients ask for it often. They love the 'movie' aspect of the clip, the game feel of the picture selection activity and the option to record and listen to themselves speak. It's a very motivating app and an easy way to practice verb tense goals. The stats can also be viewed and emailed for easy data collection.

Check out a sneak peak video here:

Pines to Vines iBook: I hope this interactive Science book is the future of textbooks because it's amazing! This particular iBook is about the Forest Biome. Readers can sign into it and begin reading the text on the left side of the screen. As they reach important words and phrases in the text, picture and video support pops up on the right side of the screen to build background knowledge and help with comprehension. It's an ingenious way to help kids make connections during the reading. In addition to the image and video support, the book also provides an interactive map. It's no wonder this app has won awards!

Recommendations: I wish I would have had access to this when I was a teacher! While this app is fairly high-level for the majority of my caseload, I have one older teen that trialed it and loved it. She especially loved the videos that showed what each type of forest looks like. It's a phenomenal app that touches upon many literacy skills in a functional, highly engaging way. It would make a great "Center" or "Station" activity in the classroom. Check out the full collection of iBooks that Mobile Education Store has to offer.

Where to Purchase
Head over to the App Store to purchase and download the Mobile Education Language apps. Be sure to check out their entire collection in the Mobile Education Store!

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Disclaimer: The products in this post were provided by Mobile Education Store. As always, our posts are our own, honest opinions.