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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Language Building with Apps: Part 2

In a previous post  I talked about some of my favorite apps to use in therapy and assessment.  These are not apps that were designed to be speech therapy apps or language assessment apps.  There are certainly some of those out there, and I even use a couple of them sometimes.  
But mostly, I’m looking for apps that are fun and engaging; apps that provide a context for interacting with the child. 

Just last week I used an all-time favorite with a young boy during an assessment.  Bamba Burger is an app that can be as straightforward - or as zany - as you want to make it.  (Please note, I have no affiliation with the maker of Bamba Burger and receive no financial consideration for this post

The premise is simple; enter a fast food restaurant and create your own meal.  You are prompted to make a burger, fill your soft-drink, and create your favorite type of fries (well, no, they don’t have curly fries).

This little boy is functionally nonverbal.  He does have a few words/word approximations that he can use. I always have one aac device/iPad with aac app that is separate from the “play” device if I am using aac.  Whether you are working with a verbal or nonverbal child is immaterial, however.  As I am always reminding speech pathologists and teachers - the process is the same.  Only the mode of expression is different.
Anyway, we proceeded to enter the fast food restaurant and were prompted to choose a burger.  

  • The first choice is a bun.  There is a standard burger bun and a seeded bun.  There is also a bagel, cupcake, cake, and assorted other items that can be sliced and made to be buns.  
  • My objective here may be as simple as having the child point and say “That one,” or as complex as asking for [the cupcake with white frosting and candy on top].  I try to get the child to tell me what they have to do to cut the bun [move the knife up and down] - or some version thereof.
  • Next comes the burger itself. And the toppings - talk about category exclusion.  What goes on a burger and what doesn’t belong?  Pickles, swiss cheese, mustard, bacon are some of the usual suspects.  
  • Again, I’m looking for basic determiners (i.e. that) or labels (i.e. bacon octopus), and anything from single word utterances through complete sentences.  
  • Whatever my language objective is, I can use this engaging activity to forward it.  Do you want candy corn? Do gumdrops go on a burger? How many pieces of bacon do you want? How do you feel about octopus on your burger?  Which do you like better; tomato or chili peppers? Why?  How are the lettuce and the pickles the same? How are they different?
  • The choices of fountain drinks and style of fries are a little less numerous, but still afford opportunities to expand syntax, increase use of core words, build prepositions or other concepts.
  • Everyone’s favorite activity comes at the end. Each time you touch one of the items, it makes a munching or slurping sound and the appropriate visual.  Kids love watching bites disappear.
Consider using fun apps to help build language.  The whole point to building language is to increase interaction and social engagement.  What better way to do this than through engagement in fun activities the child enjoys?  Drills are working their way out of interventions.  In language, natural interactions are key.

Have fun and keep talking.  
And tell me, what are your favorite apps for building language?

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