App Friday: Story Builder and ArtikPix

Welcome to App Friday, our weekly link exchange of family-friendly apps. This week we are featuring two apps for special needs, which also have attributes for children of various learning levels and interests. We begin with Story Builder for iPad that encourages storytelling in a child’s own voice. We follow with ArtikPix (universal app for iPhone and iPad) which has vibrant flashcards, a matching game, and audio recorder for practicing word sounds.

Story Builder for iPad, by Kyle of Mobile Education Store

What is your app about? Story Builder is an interactive program designed to help children learn how to build creative stories.  Settings are available to give parents and teachers the ability to customize the amount of help Story Builder gives the student while they are creating their stories. The child answers questions about a picture and records their answers in their own voice.   Each answer can be re-recorded as many times as the student would like.  After all the questions are answered, Story Builder stitches the answers together to form a continuous story that can be played back to the student.  There are three different levels of play.  Level one questions pertain to what the students see directly in the image, while level two questions will require the student to infer what might have happened before and after the events shown in the image.  Level three lets the student record any story they would like without the guidance of predetermined questions. Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing for special needs children with autism spectrum disorders or sensory processing disorders.

Why is it special? The ability to record stories in their own voice and play them back has proven to be engaging to all children who have played Story Builder.  I have witnessed children on and off the autism spectrum with ages ranging from 4 to 14 play Story Builder and be completely enthralled with it.  Younger children like to hear their own voices while older children will compete to see who can create the craziest story.  Regardless of age, all students will have fun playing Story Builder.  Writing creative stories is something that many students from 1st to 9th grades find challenging.  We created Story Builder to help our own two children practice their story telling skills.  Their teachers and speech therapist have expressed to us the dramatic improvement in creativity since they started playing.  Story Builder is a fun and engaging tool to help all students become better storytellers.

ArtikPix, by Eric Sailers and Jason Rinn

What is your app about? ArtikPix is an articulation app that has flashcard and matching activities for children with speech delays. It was co-created by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who understands how children thrive on practicing speech during fun activities. ArtikPix was updated in September 2010 as a universal app optimized for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Since the update, the free version comes with “th” cards and In App Purchases enabling 20 other decks (f, v, ch, sh, k, g, s, z, l, r, s-blends, l-blends, and r-blends, p, b, m, n, t, d, j) with 40 cards each, totaling 840 cards. In the flashcards, children flick from one card to the next, and they tap cards in matching (easy, medium, or hard levels) to make pairs. Both activities have features for playing an auditory model of the given word, voice recording (external mic/earphones with mic needed for iPod touch prior to 4th generation), and collecting scores (aka data). The scoring system shows total correct and incorrect on the screen while detailed scoring by sound group (e.g., beginning th, er, bl) is performed in the background. When a child is done with either the flashcards or matching, detailed scores can be saved with a timestamp in the app and copied to clipboard, email, email with CSV, or Google Spreadsheet.

Why is it special? Compared to paper flashcards, ArtikPix offers a variety of features and very engaging activities for speech practice at school and home. Furthermore, ArtikPix cards can never be lost and you don’t need anything extra like a paper and pencil for collecting scores or a voice recorder for feedback. Everything you need is built into the application. The SLP who co-created the app made sure it corresponded with best practices. ArtikPix allows the ability to specify sound groups in multiple decks for one or more children to practice their words. With the features in the flashcard and matching activities, children can easily practice over 100 productions while they monitor their progress with the voice recording and scoring features. Research has shown that mass practice and self-monitoring are essential to progress. When children are done with ArtikPix activities, the scores are displayed in detail by sound group for the SLP or parent to measure progress on specific errors. Then, the scores can be saved in the app with a timestamp to view progress over time. The scores are also easily exported via several selections, making it unnecessary to recreate the information for reporting purposes.

What’s in it for me? Lots if you tune in for App Friday, October 1st. Here goes…

Related Apps & Resources Sentence Builder and Question Builder from Mobile Education Store; new feature called Apps for Autismby AutismHangout.com; recently updated page on Apps for Special Needs; Cool voice recorder apps from Milo Creative; More FREE apps today from Once Upon an App!

Find us on Facebook Follow ArtikPix and Moms With Apps on Facebook for more information on family-friendly apps! And while you’re there, check out the App-O-Lantern Contest Page to celebrate October. This season at the pumpkin patch, carve your favorite app!

App Friday Link Exchange Our goal at Moms With Apps is to spread the word about family-friendly apps. Do YOU have a favorite app to share? Please participate in our link exchange and post it down below. Include the app name in the Link Title, your email, and a URL to the app. Thanks for your participation!

How I became the speech guy with an iPad

Our second feature this week is written by Eric Sailers, Speech Language Pathologist for a school district in San Diego. At the beginning of September Eric posted an article on his blog elaborating on his background, his students, and how apps are incorporated into his speech-language therapy sessions. We were so impressed that we decided to re-post it here (with his permission) at Moms With Apps.

As a kindergartner in the mid 1980’s, I saw a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for speech delays. I don’t recall the experience with much detail, but I have been reminded by those closest to me. Once I became an SLP, my mom informed me that I said “Dada Da” for “Santa Claus,” and my SLP (who continues to work in the same district that I attended as a student and now work in) told me that I called myself “airwit.” Evidently I had errors of stopping, cluster reduction, vocalic r, and t/k substitution. I was also told that I did drill work with traditional flashcards to practice sounds. Although I graduated from speech-language therapy, I wonder how my experience would have been different with the wonderful technologies available today.

Back in the winter of 2008, I purchased my first iPhone and started beta testing for Proloquo2Go, an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) app. I was so impressed with how a cool, mobile technology could be very sophisticated at a reasonable cost. I started looking at other applications that could be used in speech-language therapy. One of the first apps I discovered was Wheels on the Bus, an interactive music book that plays the song. My students loved the interactions like moving the bus and popping bubbles with the touch of their finger. I loved how my students were so engaged by the interactions that didn’t require a computer mouse (which is challenging for many of my students); plus, they sang to repetitive lyrics and heard their voice recording in the app.

In 2009, I thought about developing an app. I didn’t have a background in software engineering, so I began a conversation with my friend Jason Rinn who did. After several discussions and time spent learning the iPhone programming language, Jason was on board. Jason and I decided to create solutions that involved a strong component of tracking progress. We created a data collection app (Percentally) and an articulation app (ArtikPix) with integrated data collection. ArtikPix is an app that allowed me to include modern technology in a tool for speech articulation difficulties that I personally experienced some 25 years ago. It means a lot to me that I can share such a personalized solution with children who I now serve.

I currently use iOS devices (iPod touch and iPad) in speech-language therapy sessions. I have five iPods that are primarily for individual use, and one iPad I incorporate in group activities. There are apps my students use individually such as iColoringBook and Sentence Builder. For both apps, my students show their screen to the group as they produce sentences. Optimized iPad apps for my groups include a book app called Zoo You Later – Monkey Business and BrainPop Featured Movie. During Monkey Business and BrainPop, the students take turns listening, touching, and talking about the content. A book app like Monkey Business is very enjoyable and beneficial for children because of the features including interactive text and illustrations, painting, recorded audio, voice recording, and highlighted text. I imagine I would have enjoyed using apps like interactive books and games to practice my sounds.

My students are drawn to the iOS devices, and general education peers are interested in how they use the technologies for communication. My students favorite part about iOS devices is the touching aspect. Even if they are not skilled with a computer mouse, most of my students can tap, flick, and drag elements on the screen. I see this as a great source of initiating and maintaining their engagement during activities.

I think that apps offer great features for visual cues and auditory feedback that aid children with special needs in the learning process. I also am very pleased to have my students using mobile technologies that they might not otherwise use because of various factors. Finally, it brings me great joy to hear students asking, “Hey speech guy, can we use the iPad today?”

If you use iDevices for presentations in classrooms or at conferences, don’t miss Eric’s other article about Tips & Tricks for Presenting With the iPod Touch.