Speech Sounds for Kids is an iPad only app developed by Australian developer Multimedia Speech Pathology, who also created Speech Sounds on Cue which we have previously reviewed. It is available in both US and Australian English versions ,and is designed for kids aged 4-7 years. Free lite versions are also available. This review is of the full US version. I tested the app with my almost 7 year-old daughter with CAS (Apraxia) who has had 5 1/2 years of Speech Therapy; Suzanne B., SLP also tested it with her speech students.
The app uses a multi-sensory approach and is based on the Speech Sound Set by Pelican Talk Speech Therapy Resources. It is designed to work on phonemic awareness; speech sound production; and auditory and articulatory awareness.
The app works on the 22 consonant sounds and each is represented by a “Sound Buddy” – a cute character such as Furry Fox (F) or Charlie Choo Choo (Ch). The picture of the sound buddy that appears throughout the app shows the correct mouth position for making that sound. The app has multiple student profiles and collects data on each student which can be emailed (e.g. to their SLP). It also includes a very comprehensive user manual which can be accessed from anywhere in the app..
In each session a child can work on from 2-4 sounds. If they are using the app for Phonemic awareness they should work their way through all the sounds in rotation, if they are using it for articulation they should work on a sound they are having difficulty with paired with the sound they use in its place. Once you have chosen which sounds to work on a train appears with each of the chosen sound buddies in it.
The app can work at both the sound and word level, it is recommended to do all the sound activities for each of the chosen sound buddies before moving on to the combined sound activities, word activities and combined word activities.
There is a lot to this app. Working at the sound level there are 4 activities: Learn the sound, Listen for the sound, Copy the sound and Say the Sound. I will describe the activities for “f” Furry Fox (they are the same for each of the sound buddies).
Learn the Sound.
This has 5 parts:
- A video showing a child’s mouth as they make the sound.
- Furry Fox’s name and sound written by his picture, followed by a short animated video of Furry Fox making an f sound, accompanied by a narrator describing how to make an f sound.
- Hand cue- a short video of a hand cue for reinforcing the sound. Using a hand cue helps with learning and retrieval, this is especially important in children with Apraxia. I’ve seen first hand how useful hand cues can be with my daughter.
- Listen to the sound
- Say the sound- the children can record themselves and immediately listen to the play back.
Listen for the Sound
My daughter loved this section!! A line drawing of the Furry Fox is on the screen, the child listens for his sound and taps the picture every time they hear it. Tapping at the correct time gradually colors in the picture.
Copy The Sound
The child hears the sound whilst looking at a picture of Furry Fox. Then they repeat it whilst recording themselves and listen to the playback, the SLP or parent then marks if it is correct or incorrect, they can also save a speech sample for later and make notes. This is repeated 4 times. I would love the ability for the adult to vary the number of repetitions. Children with apraxia need to do a lot more repetitions than children with other speech problems, so when we were working at sound level we’d often do 30-50 repetitions of a sound in session. You can access the videos from ‘learn the sound’ during this activity if the child needs help.
Say The Sound
This is the same as copy the sound except the child doesn’t her the sound first, the narrator says” furry fox says” and then the child records their response.
Combined Sound Activities
After working the the sounds individually the child can move on to working on all their selected sounds together. There are 4 activities in this section: Who said That Sound?, Match The Sound, Copy All Sounds and Say all Sounds.
Who said That Sound?
Pictures of all the selected sound buddies are on the screen surrounded by 4 empty boxes. Tapping on the ear symbol the child will hear a sound spoken. They need to them tap on the correct sound buddy, if the tap correctly one of the empty boxes by that buddy will fill- in with his picture.
Match The Sound
A classic matching game with a choice of 8, 12, 18 or 24 cards. For each card of a pair one will have an audio tag that says e.g. “furry fox says..” the other will say “fffff”.
Copy all Sounds
This is the same as Copy the Sound when working on individual sounds but this time there are 3 repetitions of each sound.
Say all Sounds
This is the same as Say the Sound when working on individual sounds, but this time there are 3 repetitions of each sound.
These can be worked on words for each sound buddy individually and then the child can move on to combined word activities with words from all selected sounds. There are over 300 words in the app in total.
Hear The Words
Here they hear again “Furry Fox Says ffff”, followed by a list of words beginning with F.
Match The Words
Matching game similar to Match The Sounds but at the word level. They hear the word for one of the matching cards and a sentence with the word missing for the other card. It would be nice to have the option to only have the pictures labelled with the word, for children in the early stages ,and then to be able to play both with the word and the fill-in sentence later.
Listen For The Word
A picture of Furry Fox is on the screen to remind the child which sound they are working on, and a big box surrounded by 6 smaller boxes is center screen. A word is said as a picture of it appears in the large box , if it begins with F they must tap it. Correct responses appear as small pictures around the large one.
Copy The Word
The child records 2 repetitions of the word after hearing it and whilst looking at its picture, the adult marks it as correct or incorrect. I’d like to also have an ‘approximation’ option – for when a child gets the target sound correct but not the whole word correct.
Say The Word
The child must record themselves saying the word twice after seeing its picture and hearing a clue to the word but without hearing the word itself.
Combined Word Activities
The child can move on to combined word activities where the repeat the above activities but with words randomly mixed from all the sound buddies being worked on.
I think this is a great app for children working on speech at the sound and word level. I love it’s multi-sensory approach and the videos of the mouth movements and hand cues. I also like that it works on auditory discrimination and phonemic awareness more than most articulation apps. In general I prefer photographs over drawings to illustrate words in a articulation app, but my daughter said she liked the drawings and would pick them over photos! Both my daughter and Suzanne’s students really liked the app – which is important as an app is only useful if the child will use it! My daughter’s summary “I tested it and I like it!” (and after 5 1/2 years of Speech Therapy she definitely doesn’t say that about all speech apps!) The cute sound buddies, matching games, ability to record and playback, and fun activities such as coloring in a picture when hearing the right sound keep children engaged. Multiple student profiles and record keeping are useful features too.
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Speech Sounds For Kids – US Edition – Mulitmedia Speech Pathology
Speech Sounds For Kids - US Edition
by Mulitmedia Speech Pathology
Price: $12.99 USD
Speech Sound for Kids is an iPad app for promoting phonemic awareness, auditory discrimination and speech sound production using a multi-sensory approach.
Mary is originally from England but now lives in California with her husband, dog, cat and three children. Mary and her family love Apple products and own an iPad2, iPad3, iPad Mini, iTouch, iPhone5 and several MacBook Pros. They also love cub scouts, skiing, camping and hiking. The family iPads are also used for therapy for their daughters Apraxia (speech disorder).