Applications or ‘Apps’ are a type of software that allow the end user to perform a specific task. Apps have been created for various purposes from enabling mobile data processing to educational entertainment. In 2007 Apple released the first i-phone and hence began the real commercialization of applications. Recently several Apps particularly useful to educators and therapists have been released. Here are a 5 free apps that have shown good potential is fostering the development of speech and language skills.
1. My first words. Available in the apple app store. It is a mobile app that teach actions, feelings, parts of the body, clothing – among other categories. The app offers the ability to customize (i.e. remove sound, change categories, add/remove text etc.) For the educator, parent or therapist the customization feature is a great bonus as one can alter the stimulli and make it more or less challenging.
2. Dot.2.dot. Available in apple app store. A mobile app, it allows the child to step by step – create pictured items using his or her fingers. It is useful in teaching social behaviors like joint attention, commenting and turn-taking. It also teach facilitate labeling of nouns and responding to questions. The App can also be customized. The app has great auditory feedback that reinforces correct choices.
3. Families 1. Available in the apple app store. In this application the child is required to select an object that completes a set. The child can be asked to name the items in the box (ex. Cats) then drag another item (ex another cat) to complete the box. It starts at a basic level and can grow more challenging. The child is able to build language skills like categorization, matching and discrimination. There are several categories to choose from – ranging from animals and emotions to vehicles.
4. Fish Jump. Available in the apple app store. In this application the child can improve attention, discrimination skills and language skills such as answering WH questions can be targeted. It is very good initial game to foster a child’s attention and engagement and does not require ability to follow multiple step directions.
5. Puzzle me 1.Available in the apple app store. In this applications the child is required to drag pieces of a puzzle around to create a targeted picture. The child learns skills like matching, scanning and problem solving. Social language skills like joint attending and turn-taking can also be targeted. This is a great game for the child who is ready for an intermediate challenge.
All of these apps can be customized and therefore are good teaching tools. Finally it is important to note that though all of these apps are free the user will be offered the ability to add much more material – usually for a modest fee (typically 99 cents).