Website Wednesday: Reading Fun

This is going to be my last Website Wednesday, at least for a while.  I am going to focus more on reviewing Android apps on this blog and in Yapp Guru this summer, using my new Nexus 7 tablet.   I also am working on a flashcard Excel file and will be giving away a promo code to Puzzingo at some point in the next few months.

Man Reading Book and Sitting on Bookshelf in Library

The website this week is  resource developed by Mrs. Carney a teacher with Appleton Area School District in Wisconsin.   She has organized a list of games, Powerpoints, and other resources in different topics. I found several useful activities for my upper elementary students here (http://www.aasd.k12.wi.us/staff/boldtkatherine/ReadingFun.htm).  I have used some of the games from the subject predicate area.  Other areas that look useful include the plurals, homophones, idioms, and parts of speech.

Everyone have a great summer!

App Review: Avaz

Name (Google Play) Avaz For Autism
Developer (Amazon) Invention Labs
 Price  $99.99
Size (MB) 344
Type General Language
Type Specific AAC
SD Card Yes

My wife got me interested in becoming a Speech Language Pathologist.  I was actually going into computer programing at the time I met her.  The second biggest influence was a teenager that had cerebral palsy.  I became his caregiver, and began to program his DynaVox.  Realizing that I could help people communicate though computers (AAC) motivated me to become a SLP, but after starting my career I haven’t had the opportunity to work with many AAC devices.

Avaz

With that all being said I am excited to be able to review my first AAC app on my blog.  I was contacted by someone from Invention Labs and asked to review their app Avaz.  I found Avaz very intuitive.  It was fairly easy to navigate and setup.  I was able to create a new page, take pictures and setup communication buttons on page without any instructions.  The app design reminded me a lot of the DynaVox I programmed 10 years ago, but this app was much easier to use.

Avaz is highly customizable.  It has five voices to choose from. There are a child and adult voice for both male and female USA accents as well as a female Indian accent.  The speed of the voice can be adjusted along with the size of the pictures and caption text within buttons.  There is an option to enlarge the buttons when they are selected.  The default starting screen can be changed and returned to after each selection.  A message box can be used or taken away, allowing the choice of building a complete sentence before speaking or speaking after each selection.  Other options include high contrast, speaking as you type, speaking action keys, and using a password to access the settings.  The app makes it easy to switch between it’s picture and keyboard mode. The keyboard can be in either a QWERTY or ABC format.

I have contacted the app developer with a few ideas for improvement. The menu, home, and back buttons that most Android devices could be utilized better.  The back button can be used to exit the setting menu, but if pressed anywhere else it exits the app.  The home screen also exits the app and the menu button does nothing.  While within Avaz, the volume buttons on my tablet accessed the ringtone volume instead of the volume for the app (media), preventing me from making adjustments.  I recommended that they add the option of locking within the android app, to prevent accidental exit.

I was only able to try this app on my Lenovo A1.  I used this app as a starting AAC system for a child with autism.  It worked well for him and I could see this app working as day to day communication for someone at the picture or keyboarding levels.  The app is currently $99.99 in both Google Play and Amazon Appstore for Android.  I know $99.99 is a lot of money but when you compare it to the current DynaVox which costs over $4,000, it makes it look cheap.  With a great $200 Android tablet like the Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7 or  $180 for the Samsung Tab 2,  you can get a AAC device and a tablet for less than the price of an iPad Mini.

Website Wednesday: Sagittal and Frontal Phoneme Videos from University of Iowa

The University of Iowa developed a video collection of all the English, German, and Spanish phonemes.  I  like to use this great resource (http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/#) for visual aids to teach and review how to produce phonemes during articulation therapy.

The videos use flash player so they can be played on this website using Android tablets with flash player.  Adobe no longer officially supports  Android but can be installed by following the instructions in the video at the bottom of my GotKidsGames post or by purchasing Puffin Web Browser.

Jo Frost Rewards – Amazon App of the Day

Amazon’s Appstore for Android has a behavior tracking app as the free app of the day.  I have installed and briefly looked at this app.  It looks like it could come in handy in therapy for tracking kids behaviors.  A list of at least 44 kids can be added and different behaviors can be added to each student. The tasks and behaviors  are currently setup for home use but can be modified.  Multiple points can be added at once by completing a task.  Points can also be added or taken away one at a time.  Percentages of right vs wrong are not tracked, only a total of points, but if you are an SLP that tallies correct answers (e.g., number of times /r/ is said correctly) this could be a very handy app.   Download it for free today only here.  If you would like to check Amazon’s free app of the day frequently bookmark this link.  If you don’t have the Amazon Appstore for Android you can download it by following the instructions here.

Nook HD & HD+ Now has Google Play and Hundreds of Apps for SLPs

Just in time for Mother’s Day: The Nook HD and HD+ have access to all the Google Play apps.  This means any speech language pathologist who has one of these devices just multiplied their choice of speech and language apps over tenfold.  The Nook also slashed their prices. Best Buy is running 3 day Mother’s Day sale so you can now get the 7 inch HD with 8 GB for $150 and 16 GB for $180. The 9 inch Nook HD+  with 16 GB is $180 and with 32 GB is $200.  All these devices have SD card slots for expandable memory.  Right now, these is probably the best deal for good Android tablet with expandable memory.  You are not going to find a better 9 inch tablet for $200.

With Google Play there are over 250 app that could be used for speech therapy.  Check out my SLP Android Apps page for details.   Sorry if this sounds like a commercial, but this is a really good deal. It would make an awesome Mother’s Day present for an SLP who doesn’t have a tablet yet.  The only reason I am going to buy one of these is because they don’t support sideloading.  This means the Amazon Appstore is not available and it won’t be very difficult for me to install apps given to me to review on this blog.  Google Play has 99% of the Apps on Amazon and a lot more.  Neither of these issues should be a problem for most people.

Website Wednesday: GotKidsGames

gotkidsgameslogo

GotKidsGames.com has some great language and phonics games for grades K-6 in it’s Word Games (http://www.gotkidsgames.com/GotKidsGames%20Word%20Games%20By%20Grade.html) area.  The link to this area is currently at the bottom of the second column in the homepage.  Some of the games keep score and some do not.  There are plural,  pronoun, subject-verb, adjective, and punctuation games to name a few of the ones that could be used in therapy.

Some of the games are short race the clock games to see how many correct answers can be done in a minute. I have found these most useful in therapy because they are quick, track data, and the kids enjoy them.  5 of these are  subject-verb agreement games: 1st grade, 2nd grade3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th Grade. There’s also a racing homophone and pronoun games.  If you click on a few of the links in the last couple sentences you may notice some of the games have no ads.  Playing around with this website, I noticed that you can change a few of the the .html ending to .swf and the ads go away.  The .swf links a may eventually stop working, but I have enjoyed them the past few months.

Most of these games are flash games so they can work on Android tablets.  It has come to my attention that the Android 4.1 and 4.2 no longer have official flash support, but you can still get it from adobe’s website in archives.  I found a YouTube video that explains how to get flash in Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean).  You can watch it below.

App Review: Puzzingo

Puzzingo

Name Puzzingo
Creator 77SPARX Studio, Inc.
Marketplace Google Play & Amazon Appstore
Categories Preschool, Elementary, Vocabulary
Price Free w/ in-app purchases (for Google Play)
MB 33.5 (bigger w/ in-app purchasing
Operating System 2.2
SD Card Yes
My Rating 5/5

Puzzingo or “Kids Puzzle Game PUZZINGO for Toddler and Preschooler with Animals, Numbers, Letters, and More” is a puzzle based vocabulary game.  Puzzle pieces are inside boxes which can be shaken to open.   Each piece is a noun with a written label and is named when selected.  The pieces can be placed into shaded areas to complete a puzzle.

There are currently two versions of this app available for Android Devices.  The version on Google Play (3.81) has the option of in-app purchases of additional puzzles.  The current version in the Amazon Appstore (3.36) does not have in app purchases.  Both apps are free and ad-free.  Many people are reluctant to purchase apps where in-app purchases are available.  The in-app purchases in Puzzingo (Google Play version) require parent verification.  As I talked about in my Security and In-App Purchasing post, I recommend all SLPs set up a pin code for on device purchases.  This will prevent clients or thieves from purchasing unwanted apps as well as in-app purchases.  For more information on how to set up the pin code, click the link to the post above.  With a pin code you can be assured there will be no accidental purchases on this app.

I was given an “all access pass” to the Google Play version by the developer to review this app and I am very impressed.  I can see why this app is one of the most popular apps on the market.  This is the best play-based vocabulary game I have used.  The Amazon Appstore version currently has (free) puzzles for toys, numbers, jungle animals, ocean animals, farm, picnic, and alphabet.  In the Google Play version, you have free access to juggle animals, picnic, dune bug, steam train, farm, sand castle, and costume shop for free.  With in-app purchasing you can get puzzles in each of the categories and sub categories below:

Trains: commuter train, train yard, city train, country train, space train, clown train, train station

Princess & Fairies: fairy house, fairy tailor, fairy rock band, fairy flight school,  frog race, pirate princess, princess

Holidays: Lunar New Year, Santa’s stable, snowball fight, Santa’s workshop, Christmas tree, harvest, New Year,

Cars: mini van, chopper, indie car, stock car, 4×4 truck, clown car, bulldozer, super bike, sports car

Animals: Jungle Animals (another), forest animals, fresh water animals, safari animals, polar animals, grassland animals, Australian animals

Space: observatory, alien hair salon, space station, consolations, solar system, astronaut, space shuttle

Core Concepts: numbers, colors, counting, ocean animals, shapes, toys, alphabet.

There are 12 – 32 pieces (vocabulary words) in each puzzle.  Some of the puzzles have short games to play after they are completed (e.g., racing game with the cars).  The developer occasionally adds more puzzles, so this list may be incomplete in a few months.  I recommend this app to be used as a play-based game during speech language therapy as well as for home use with all preschool and elementary kids.  This app is great for a preschooler, yet still engaging and educational for older children.  My 7, 9, and 10 year old children all like this game.  I have even learned a few words from this game.  I will be giving away a free “all access pass” to the Google Play version of this app this summer, so check back here for more details later. You can view the developers video below.

Website Wednesday: Minimal Pairs from John Higgins

This week’s website is not online activities for therapy but a resource I discovered several years ago.  John Higgins organized complete lists of minimal pair for English consonants and vowels. This is a very handy resource for speech therapy.   Two warnings before the link; the lists includes swear words, and it may be blocked by schools’ web filters.   Check out this amazing resource here (http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/wordscape/wordlist/).  This website also has lists of homophones and homographs.