Phonological Awareness Lab, created by Smarty Ears, is an engaging way to improve phonological awareness in children. It is a multi-level game with activities focused on incorporating phonological awareness activities necessary for literacy. These activities include sentence segmentation/word counting; blending syllables and sounds; rhyming identification, selection, and matching; and syllable identification and counting.
Let’s start by looking at each of the activities. There are four activities total; however, each activity is broken up even further for the user.
Activity 1: Sentence Experiment: In sentence experiment, the user is asked to click on a dropper for each word they hear in a sentence. The sentence length varies throughout the activity.
Activity 2: Decoding Room: In the decoding room, the user has the option of choosing blending syllables or blending sounds. As suggested by the names, the tasks are different based on the information provided. One is providing syllables and requires the user to blend the syllables while the other blends phonemes into sounds.
Activity 3: Rhyming Compound: In the rhyming compound, the user has three activities that increase in difficulty. There is rhyming identification, rhyming selection, and rhyming match.
Activity 4: Syllable X-Ray: In syllable x-ray, the user is asked to select the word with the correct number of syllables. This activity can be customized to the user, giving the user the opportunity to choose the number of syllables and the number of pictures to choose from.
I found this to be a great app that was user friendly, customizable, and allowed for multiple players. Data is kept, which is an added bonus for educators and speech-language pathologists, but is also nice for parents to be able to track how students are doing in a given activity category. Each of the activities is fun and engaging for the users, keeping their interest with the various scenes and tasks available. Visual and auditory feedback is provided for correct and incorrect responses, which allows the user to know when they get an answer correct or incorrect.
I love the versatility of this app. The four different elements and seven different tasks of varying complexity make this an app that can be used with students at various levels sharing a common goal of increasing phonological awareness. Smarty Ears does a nice job of linking their apps to a Therapy Report Center, which is incredibly handy for SLP’s.
I would like the ability to turn the sound off within some of the activities. When working with students who struggle with listening and retaining, the rapid output of answer choices leaves me having to repeat them anyway. Because I can’t talk over the device, I wait for the run through first, which takes up time. It is a great feature for students who are more independent, but it’s limiting for the students who need the words to be repeated individually. At this point, I would use this app to access knowledge in the area or to increase a student’s skill level in an area rather than using it for instructional purposes.
I would recommend this app, for sure! I believe it could be useful within the therapy room or as a center in the general education classroom. It is a tool that would be beneficial for various students demonstrating various needs. It may be my personal issue with the voice output throughout the app, but I find it to be limiting. Because the auditory portion is necessary, the sound cannot be shut off to avoid that feature. Overall, great app, honestly no complaints!
Phonological Awareness Lab
by Smarty Ears
Price: $21.99 USD
Phonological Awareness Lab (PAL) is a fun, multi-level game specifically designed to improve phonological awareness in children. Designed by a certified speech-language pathologist, PAL incorporates a.
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Courtney Decker is a speech-language pathologist working with students of varying needs. A good portion of my caseload is with students who have complex communication needs, which I find more rewarding than challenging. She loves reality shows focused on music, such as The Voice and The Sing-Off. When she has free time, which doesn’t seem to be often, she likes to cross-stitch, knit, crochet, and sew.