Using educational apps with students has shown to be a fun and effective way to build speech, language, and social skills. There are thousands of apps that can be used with preschool and elementary aged students to target individual therapeutic goals or to simply enhance language learning. The interactive nature of many apps can be illustrated by singing songs together, imitating each other’s drawings, or building entertaining stories. An adult can get down on the floor with a young child while exploring a simple but visually stimulating app, or have the child sit facing the adult while playing an imitation game. Here is a list of 31 great apps that target a variety of speech-language skills:
While using these apps, here are some strategies to keep in mind that will encourage interaction and improve speech-language skills:
- Introduce the iPad by positioning it toward you to gain the child’s auditory attention before turning it toward the child and adding the visual stimulation. Hold the device up by your face to gain the child’s attention.
- Encourage holding the iPad below your face and in front of you to show the child how an app works. It will be easier for the child refer back to you while you are giving directions.
- Although a child’s natural tendency is to touch the iPad, don’t let the child touch it when introducing a new app. This way the child can truly focus on observing your actions and processing your directions.
- Look for ways to extend interactions by a variety of means, such as introducing a real toy associated with a virtual character, by imitating a character’s movements, or by adding another direction from the app that it didn’t offer, such as story retelling.
Working with apps is not meant to replace the feel and sound of book pages turning, the sensation of applying a crayon to a piece of paper, or the satisfying crash of a tower of blocks smashing to the floor. It is not meant to be a substitution for face-to-face interaction with young children. The iPad is, however, another great tool to keep in mind when looking for ways to keep speech and language practice exciting and fresh. Have fun!
Adapted from DeCurtis, L. L. & Ferrer, D. (2011, September 20). Toddlers and Technology: Teaching the Techniques.The ASHA Leader.