Written by Natalie Erling M.A., CCC-SLP
We live in a world run by technology. There is no denying that kids are much more tech-savvy now than they ever were. I often get the questions, “how much is too much?” and, “what are some GOOD apps for my kids to use?” There are some fantastic apps that are available to you that can help support your child’s speech and language development and all the skills that go along with it (academic, fine motor, social skills). Provided below is a list along with ideas on how to help your child use them to learn and grow. Please note, these apps are not a replacement for therapy. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, contact us at Ally Pediatric Therapy and we can help! A skilled speech-language pathologist will conduct an evaluation to determine if a speech or language delay/disorder is present and warrants therapy.
How much is too much? Stick with the saying “everything in moderation.” This is the key to technology and iPad use for children. While some apps (like the ones in this post) can be helpful and educational for children, too much screen time may mean they aren’t getting the social interaction that is necessary for development. Nothing replaces conversations, reading, and playing with your child. You are an important part of their exposure to this world through communication!
Receptive/Expressive Language Development
- My PlayHome apps (Hospital, School, Home, and Store) are a fantastic way to help kids grow their language and vocabulary like understanding items in a category, how items go together, making connections in their own home, and typical places they may visit. It also helps with cause and effect as the app is very interactive and everything in the buildings, “work.” Kids love it and are a favorite amongst my patients here at the clinic. Playing with your child is a great opportunity for you to elicit some expressive and receptive language responses. Asking “wh” questions while your child plays and creates can help connect the understanding of new vocabulary and concepts. Stick with the basics: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Understanding spatial concepts (in, under, on, next to), quantitative (more, less, many, few) are foundational for following directions. Additionally, when you ask your children “wh” questions you are eliciting expressive language by giving them opportunities to share and respond.
Following Directions and Basic Concepts
- One Step Two Step (OSTS) Lite: This app helps children with basic concept knowledge while following 1 and 2 step directions with fun, interactive coloring pages
- Lipa Eggs: Use this app to help your child follow directions using descriptive features like colors, categories, and quantities while creating colorful eggs.
- Under the Sea: With this app, underwater life comes to your living room! Kids can learn about new animals and objects under the sea while creating scenes with interactive characters.
- Farmyard: This app is the same concept mentioned above with the sea app, but farm style!
- Sort It Out 1, Sort It Out 2: With this app children can put items into categories and group them based on function, description, where they are located, shape, size, and color. This is a great way to practice how objects are related which in turn helps to build vocabulary.
- Opposites 1: Children can learn early opposites with this game; this is a very important beginning vocabulary skill.
- Match It Up: While using this app, children match items together based on their relationship to each other, also known as associations (another important early vocabulary skill!)
- Categories: This app helps children learn how to describe objects by understanding their characteristics.
Grammar and Syntax
- Super Duper Inc “Pronoun”: I have a lot of parents who ask me about pronoun use. Does your child say “My like that” instead of “I like that”? Or do they use he/she or him/her incorrectly? Here is an app that helps children learn all of the main subjective and objective pronouns.
- Pronouns With Splingo: This app is fun and interactive, it takes place in a restaurant where characters need to be given their ordered food. Children follow the directions by giving the pizza, cookie, donut, etc. to the right person. It targets the pronouns: he, she, they, him, her, them, it, ours, his, hers. Children are also learning to follow 1 and 2 step directions while using the app.
Early Literacy and Spelling
- 5 Letter Spelling: Interactive spelling is the name here. Kids are given letters and must arrange them to spell common sight words. Great for visual learners! It then repeats the word once you have spelled it correctly for a nice auditory addition.
- ABC-My 1st Words: This is an engaging and fun app geared towards kids ages 4-7. It helps them learn early words that are functional to their world while building literacy and spelling skills.
- Build a Word Express: This is a great app for positive reinforcement. A balloon pop game reinforces building words correctly. This is great for young children through elementary age.
- Spell it Out: The “animal” version of this app gives children the opportunity to learn about wildlife while building their vocabulary and of course, learning how to spell new words. This app encompasses more than just spelling but puts all early literacy skills into one fun game.
- Speech Stickers: While using this app, children can listen to and repeat different sounds while keeping track of their productions with fun stickers.
- Sesame Street’s “Breathe” App: This app gives a child real-time help through difficult emotions. Choose the appropriate situation or event and cute cuddly monsters help walk you through breathing exercises and problem-solving techniques. Great for preschool or early elementary!
Natalie Erling M.A., CCC-SLP, is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist at Ally Pediatric Therapy. Her clinical focus includes treating patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders, apraxia therapy, feeding and swallowing, language disorders and speech sound disorders.