Tech Tuesday

Jessica Wieringa shares:

I have found several apps that have been useful during speech/ language therapy sessions with preschool-age students. I typically prefer to use manipulatives/ hands-on activities during therapy sessions (most of my students are spending a lot of time in front of a screen at home), however, I have found that using the iPad as a reinforcer, during language-based activities, or in place of articulation pictures has been beneficial.

Feed the Monster (free)

I have used the app as both a reward at the end of a session or as a language based activity. The students make choices between which monster to feed and the various food items. Action words are targeted as they “prepare” the food for the monster. You can choose to cut, fry, boil, microwave, blend, etc. the food item and then feed it to the monster. You can “shake” salt and pepper on top. I have also targeted spatial concepts- in, on, under, next to, etc. The monster will make silly sounds as he gulps down the food and sometimes will refuse the food or spit it out which makes the kids crack up.

Draw with Stars (free)

I have mostly used this as a reinforcer after a completing a task or activity. It would also be good for targeting cause/ effect skills.

Phonics Consonants – Beginning Sounds (free)

I have used this app to target articulation with my preschoolers. I only have the free version, so the sounds I have been able to access are limited. My students enjoy tapping the pictures with the written word (even though most are not reading). The pictures pop up and the words are modeled for them. I have used this at the beginning of sessions to introduce sounds and during sessions for students working on imitating sounds in words. The full version is only $2.99, so I think it would be a good purchase if you have several younger students targeting articulation.


Speech Therapy Subscription Box

During a break between sessions at KSHA, Melissa and I happened upon the “Speech Therapy Essentials” booth. Speech Therapy Essentials is a subscription box, akin to Stitchfix. As you may have guessed, this subscription includes therapy materials. Each box comes with at least one book, various other therapy related materials, and a supplementary sheet that gives ideas as to how to use the materials. Melissa purchased one box and we thought it would be fun to give you a list of all the items so that you can share how YOU would use them. Each idea you share in the comments will afford you one chance to win that item! You have until next Wednesday (4/17) to share your comments. If you win, we will either send you the item via or deliver it to your school!

If you are interested, you can find more information about the boxes here.

Here are the items:

Tech Tuesday

Alice Falk shares:

Hello, SLP colleagues! I have enjoyed reading your posts regarding how you utilize the WHAS Crusade for Children iPads during speech therapy. Since many of my students enjoy showing off their reading skills, I try to incorporate books in their speech sessions whenever possible. That’s when the iPad comes in handy, allowing access to a variety of books without having to check them out of the library or locate them on a bookshelf. Specifically, I can access books, videos and book-related puzzles and games via TumbleBooks. This online library ( contains many categories such as: Story Books, Chapter Books/Read-Alongs, National Geographic Videos, and Non-Fiction.

TumbleBooks appeal to students because they “take existing books and add animation, sound, music, and narration to produce electronic picture books which you can read or have read to you.” The TumbleBooks collections include 500-1100 titles from noted children’s book publishers. In fact, several books that my students were reading in the classroom are available on TumbleBooks such as Enemy Pie and Because of Winn-Dixie. Although the selections are mostly for students in elementary school, the books are also labeled by reading level. Therefore, even middle school students who are reading below grade level may find chapter books, non-fiction books, and National Geographic videos to their liking. (I recommend the Meerkats video–too cute!)

We use TumbleBooks in speech group to practice articulation skills during oral reading and short answer tasks. The language opportunities are endless such as: answering “wh” questions, story re-telling, defining vocabulary words, identifying the main idea, and making predictions. We also practice fluency skills such as easy onset of speech, appropriate pacing, and maintaining good breath support.

Since my school subscribes to TumbleBooks, my students and I can sign on via the Sanders website all year round. You may wish to consult with your librarian to find out if this resource is available at your school.

Chapters 30-33

Because of some confusion, we have 2 posts for chapters 30 and 31. 🙂

Chapter 30

Wow! Melody awoke to a rainy, stormy day. Dad’s arm was in a sling after he punched the wall following Melody’s mistreatment, and he was taking off. Mom had a migraine and had to go in to work, although she had planned to be off. Penny was sick and the dog had thrown up on the carpet. Mom tried to entice Melody to stay home but Melody was determined to go to school. Because the whole family operation was running late, Mom had to drive Melody. A tired, emotionally- drained mom backed out of the drive. Soon, Melody was kicking and screaming ,trying to pull the keys out of the ignition, and grabbing Mom’s arm. And it was only when the car hit something with a soft thud that Mom became aware that Penny had run out of the house. Mom “screamed for a long, long time.”.

Obviously, Melody’s journey has taken its toll on the whole family. Here are parents who are trying so hard to support their daughter. It’s a reminder that we only see part of the student’s life. We don’t know the trials and the level of exhaustion a family experiences. Another note, Melody did not have access to Elvira, her communication device, during her time in the car. If only she had had an effective way to communicate . . .  We can’t plan on when we need communication.

Chapter 31

Melody feels responsible for the accident and she is extremely scared. She talks this out with Ms V, using Elvira, and Ms V is very supportive. She is worried that Penny could have brain damage or have to use a wheel chair. “Two broken kids,” Melody types. She communicates that she would rather be left at the airport than see her sister hurt this way. Dad calls with good news about Penny.

What strikes me is that with all the beautiful words that seem to flow through Melody’s head at times, her communication using Elvira is pretty “to the point.” Like she asks Ms V, “Is she dead?” Melody is not beating around the bush, and there is probably a lot of effort in typing novel utterances in this unplanned conversation. She NEEDS to be a writer in my opinion, because her thoughts are wonderful.


Chapter 32

Melody goes to school on Monday and confronts her peers in Mr Dimming’s class. She breaks their silence by asking “WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME?” And to Claire, “YOU THREW UP! NOBODY LEFT YOU.” I was proud to her boldness in talking with them. They offer to give her their ugly, cheap little 9th place trophy, and her jerky hands makes it fall to the floor and break. And Melody giggles. “I DON”T WANT IT. YOU DESERVE IT,” she tells them. (Yeah, Melody!!)

Chapter 33

I love Melody’s description of herself. It’s like somebody gave her a puzzle with no picture on the box. And she’s not even sure if she has all the pieces. Her sister is home from the hospital. Melody is at Ms V’s house working on a school project. And we get a little more information. She has just one thumb to communicate with!!   And the ending of the story goes back and repeats the beautiful first chapter. She is surrounded by words, having been blanketed with words by her family. Deep within her are “mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.” How could I have taken my ability to speak and joke and sing for granted for so long?

–Pam Schmit

And take 2 for chapters 30 and 31…

Chapter 30

The next day after Melody had been left out of the quiz team trip, she was determined to go to school. She was angry and didn’t want anyone to think that she could be defeated that easily. The weather was horrific and everything was going wrong. Dad was injured, mom had a migraine, and Penny was sick. Melody’s mom and dad all but begged her to stay home, but she refused. After a series of unfortunate events including spilling orange juice, having to change her shirt, and missing the bus, Melody’s mom had managed to get her in the car in the pouring rain. Then, Melody realized she did not have her book bag. As her dad opened the door to give her mom the book bag, Penny slipped outside, unseen by all except Melody. Melody kicked, screamed, hit her mom, and did anything and everything to try and get her message across. She was going out of her mind and never wanted words more. Backing out of the driveway, they hear a soft thud, and realize the worst has happened and Penny had been hit by the car. I cannot imagine not being to communicate in an emergency. What are some ways that SLPs can provide our non-verbal students to communicate in ALL situations, even when they do not have their devices readily available?

Chapter 31

Mrs. V looked after Melody as her parents went to the hospital with Penny. She brought Melody her device, but in that moment Melody had nothing more to say. Mrs. V said that Melody was not at fault and that she had tried to warn her mother. Melody responded that she had been mad at Penny and had made her mom take her to school. Melody was so worried that Penny was hurt or dead, and then she also wondered if her cognition would be impacted, like her classmate, Jill. She could not imagine that happening to Penny, and then her parents would have “two broken kids”. Mrs. V talked Melody through the accident and through the incident with the quiz team. Melody confided that she just wished she could be normal, and Mrs. V responded that normal sucks and the kids who left her on the quiz team trip were “normal” and why would she want to be like them? They received the news that Penny had made it through surgery and would live. What would be some good activities to do with students to help them realize that “normal” does not exist and everyone is unique in their way?

–Rachel Lacap

Tech Tuesday

Megan Zeman shares:

One of my professional goals this year has been to expand my knowledge and implementation of AAC. I work in a middle school and a significant portion of my caseload uses AAC in some form and with a broad variety of ability. I find that I often get into a rut with using the same materials and targeting the same core words. It can be difficult to motivate my students to branch out and become engaged in new tasks. However, with the iPads the speech department received through a grant from the WHAS Crusade for Children, I’ve been able to find a variety of apps that are both highly engaging for my students (especially my students with a diagnosis of Autism who can be difficult to motivate to communicate) and that also allow me to target multiple core words.

1. Toca Boca and Peekaboo

Admittedly, these apps are a little juvenile for the middle school population. However, they’re still a big hit with some of my students in the MSD classrooms that I serve. Both Toca Boca and Peekaboo have multiple apps with different themes making them great to switch up according to seasons or holidays. These specific apps, Toca Boo and Peekaboo Barn were my favorite price, free! Other apps from these companies are fairly cost effective and range anywhere from $1.99 – $2.99 for individual apps. Both companies offer bundles of their apps for $4.99 and up.

Both of these apps are highly engaging for students and offer lots of repetition for multiple opportunities to use core words. In the picture below I was able to target core words using the following phrases: “What’s in the barn?”, “Can you get the animal out?”, “Open the doors.”, “Close the doors.”, “We’re all done with this animal.”, “Is the animal up in the loft or down in the barn.”, etc.

  1. GoTalk Now LiteThis is another free to download app. I have several students that are working on using real photographs to communicate. They’re just not ready for line drawings like the ones that you would find on Boardmaker. This app allows you to create communication boards by taking pictures directly on your iPad and adding them into buttons. You can create displays from 4 buttons up to 36. This app also features a picture library from GoTalk. The pictures aren’t the greatest but would do in a pinch. Examples of communication boards featuring the stock GoTalk images and photographs are below. As I don’t have ready access to a color printer at my school this has been an excellent solution for those times when I need just a few fringe words for choice boards or when working on language expansion. Note that on the bottom right hand side of the screen there is an icon with an exclamation mark that when pushed displays a set of core words. These are the same across all pages just like at the top of the GoTalk devices. However, they’re easy to change if you need a different one or a different set for a specific session.

  2. Epic!

This app has been so handy to use with my students that are working on higher-level language skills such as inferencing, vocabulary, ‘wh’-questions, main idea, and detail. When you create an account through Epic! using your school e-mail address you have access to 25,000 ebooks, audiobooks, educational videos, and quizzes. I have been finding that my students are much more engaged in reading the material when they get to read and ‘turn pages’ on the iPad. If they come across a word that they’re struggling with they can hold the word down and a definition will pop up. I love using this app for defining words using the context from the stories. The students enjoy using the definition feature to check their answers in real time. The best part of the app is the ability to create quizzes for every story that you read or video that you watch. I’ve made quizzes targeting one skill such as vocabulary (see below) and other quizzes targeting multiple skills for my mixed groups. High interest and “weird” non-fiction articles such as Bigfoot by Jamie Kallio have been great in keeping my older boys that aren’t always thrilled with coming to speech engaged. I haven’t used fiction stories with this app as much but I’ve noticed that the selection seems to be decent. For example, there are a ton of books from the Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine featured in the app.

Book opportunity!


Playing with Words 365 shares one cute activity to use with this book here. What other activities would you do with this book? If you would be willing to share some of your fun activities via a blog post, let me know (email me at or comment below) and I will send one person this book to use and blog about!!