Most people know that speech-language pathologists help work on speech sound production and stuttering. But the field is so much more diverse than that, and speech sounds and stuttering make up only about 25 percent of my caseload. You've seen my Top Cheap Apps for Speech Therapy, and Jenni’s list for Social Skills covers another area. To get every SLP (and parent!) back to school in style, here is my list of Top Apps (all FREE) for Language Therapy. Most of these apps weren't designed to use in therapy at all, but with a little creativity, they can be used to target a variety of language therapy goals. With no money invested, they're definitely worth a try!
** Only the app's developer can control when an app is free or not. The prices of apps are verified to be correct at the time of this post. We make no guarantees otherwise.
Please note: Some of these apps have in-app purchases, but they can easily be disabled in the settings of your device. There also may be ads and social network links in some of these apps.**
FlummoxVision (FREE with in-app purchase, iPad only): This app features the interesting Professor Flummox and his friends, and focuses on social communication, designed for kids from 6-12. The first module is free, while the second (and promised additional) are available for an in-app purchase. But surprisingly, the content in the free module is significant and features a 23-minute video, while the current content available for an in-app purchase is 3 minutes (at $2.99). I've been a huge fan of Flummox and Friends since it was first released as a DVD and web download, and I'm very happy to have it available as an app. It's funny, and it is also good for working on inferences and prediction, in addition to social communication. The only negative to this fantastic app is that it requires an internet connection to play. Those without an internet connection at work can still take advantage of the full-length episode online at the Flummox and Friends website for $2.99.
FlummoxVision (FREE with in-app purchases, iPad only):
Winning Words Match Games, by Winning Words (FREE, iPad only): These free vocabulary apps are great for a quick check on vocabulary, and they're totally free with no in-app purchases and no ads! I'm not normally a huge fan of simple matching games, but the interface of this app is smooth, and it's an easy way to progress monitor or isolate these specific vocabulary words. These six free apps also provide an easy suggestion for at-home practice. Find Synonym Match, Antonym Match, Homophone Match, Singular and Plural Match, Compound Word Match, and Double Letter Match here:
Tell About This Free, by RSA Group, LLC (FREE, iPad only): This developer's first app, Write About This, was included on my first list, and this newly released companion is even better for kids working on oral language. Students respond to photo prompts by using the voice recorder. In this free version, there is one sample prompt available in each category, plenty for the SLP to use without paying anything. The full version, available for $2.99, contains 100 different prompts! This app is useful for narrative, syntax, morphology, vocabulary, describing skills and so much more.
Tell About This Free (FREE, iPad only):
Learn with Homer, by Homer (FREE with in-app purchases, iPad only): I've been a big fan of this app since it was just released. It's a comprehensive reading program with an extensive amount of literature and language-rich content for preschoolers and early elementary. I use the stories, songs and poems for vocabulary development, answering questions, describing and more. Much of the content is available with in-app purchases, but there's still a good amount for free. Plus, I got most of the modules for free by following our daily Featured Free and Discounted posts.
Learn with Homer (FREE with IAP, iPad only):
Shadow Puppet, by Shadow Puppet Inc (FREE with IAP, iPad/iPhone): This is another great app to target oral language. Kids combine photos, videos, and voice to tell a story, demonstrate a task or explain a concept. SLPs and teachers can use it in the same way, and it's useful to make social stories, too. All media from the Camera Roll of the iDevice can be easily combined and manipulated, and voice is easily added within the app. Target vocabulary, description, narration, answering questions--pretty much any language goal on my IEPs can be addressed with this fun app. Almost all content is available for free--remove the Shadow Puppet watermark with one IAP, and get a few extra features with another.
Shadow Puppet (FREE with IAP, iPad/iPhone):
I imagine, by Bizzibrains (FREE with in-app purchases, iPad/iPhone): Most of the really quality app books cost money, and so a find like this one, for FREE, makes my day. And this app book makes creative use of the iOS technology, instead of just simply replicating a traditional book on the screen. The in-app purchase gives an extra six characters to put in the story, but it's certainly not necessary to use. Kids create characters (a great way to follow directions, use descriptive words and answer questions), find fun interactions (ditto), read along with the story (practice literacy skills, answer follow up comprehension questions) and have a lot of fun with it all. It's a great app for parents and kids, too.
I imagine (FREE with IAP, iPad/iPhone):
Apples & Pairs — Word Matching Game, by Boluga (FREE, iPhone/iPad): This totally FREE app (no in-app purchases!) is a great game for vocabulary practice. The goal is to match word cards, finding words that have either the same definition (synonyms) or the opposite meaning (antonyms). View the full definition of each word, too! There are more than 1500 words to practice. With three levels, it's a good way to expose older students to a variety of vocabulary.
Apples & Pairs (FREE, iPhone/iPad):
Toontastic, by Launchpad Toys (FREE with in-app purchases, iPad ONLY): This is another app that I'd heard great things about before I finally tried it in my therapy. And it really is that amazing! It's an excellent app for working on story narration and retell, as the user crafts a "Story Arc" with Setup, Conflict, Challenge, Climax, and Resolution. There are also two FREE Jr. versions featuring pirates and Kung Fu Panda, and another called Toontastic Jr. Shrek Movie Maker — all apps have in-app purchases for more options and elements. But even the free versions will be useable in therapy to create great stories!
Toontastic and Toontastic Jr. apps (all with IAP):
I Know - Guess Words with Family, Heads Up or Group of Friends, by FatChicken Studios (FREE with in-app purchase, iPhone/iPad): This new app is a great game to play to address categorization as well as word recall. Each player (from two to eight, perfect for groups) tries to be the first to tap the screen and answer letter and category combinations. "S" and "Superhero" may equal "Superman," while "O" and "boy's name" might get the answer "Oscar." The categories include cities, actors/actresses, three letter words, and even It's in Africa. It includes full content with ads for free, and an in-app purchase can remove the ads. (hint: the ads don't play if you have no internet connection — which I never do when I'm in my therapy room!)
(FREE, iPhone/iPad, IAP)
My PlayHome Lite, by Shimon Young (FREE, iPhone/iPad): Younger students really love this game, and I have used it effectively to target increased sentence length, understanding and use of basic concepts, following directions, describing and sequencing everyday activities, and social language in students in preschool and kindergarten. The full version will be the best $3.99 you ever spend on a therapy material, and there's even a limited-feature lite version.
Lite (FREE): Full ($3.99):
Draw Free for iPad, by David Porter Apps (FREE, iPad ONLY): This is a go-to app for a lot of different language activities, and it's completely free with no in-app purchases. Draw on a white canvas or on a photo from the iPad's photo album. Add lots of different stickers, too. I've used it to work on description, sentence expansion, illustrating narration, grammar and syntax, and vocabulary.
Draw Free (FREE, iPad only)
Write About This Free, by RSA Group, LLC (FREE, iPad ONLY, iOS 6.0): This app is designed as a writing prompt app, but even SLPs who don't work on written language (I do!) can use it for verbal discussions. This free version (there's a full version, too, for $3.99) contains full functionality with 50 free prompts. The newest update includes the ability to record the student's voice, which is an excellent addition for SLPs. Unlike some other apps, the audio can be stopped and started as needed when recording.
Write About This Free (iPad only): Write About this Full ($3.99, iPad only):
Tellagami, by Tellagami Inc (FREE with in-app purchases, iPhone/iPad): This app is a seriously fun way to work on a number of language concepts. To play, users create a Gami, which is a personalized character and story. Choose the character, the clothing, the scene — even the emotion! The students can record a story or description of their scene, too, and share it with others (if desired). Use it to answer wh-questions (Why is he on the beach? Where will she go next?) and to understand emotion (Why does your character feel sad? How could he feel happy?) The in-app purchases provide even more background choices.
Tellagami (FREE with in-app purchases, iPhone/iPad):
MyFirstApp.com (FREE with in-app purchases, for most iPhones/iPads): At current count, there are 45 apps from this developer that are FREE with in-app purchases. The free download gives the user a limited content set, such as two of the sorting boards in Sort it Out 1. This is a great feature to allow teachers and therapists to try out the app first, to decide if it meets the needs of individual students or classrooms — buy only the full versions that will be most useful. (Most full versions are $2.99). In my favorite, Sort it Out 1, kids love to sort the vehicles to either air, road, or water. There are also mazes, games for visual perception, memory, series apps for sequencing, colors and shapes, and so much more.
To view all available apps (most with IAP):
Weird But True, by National Geographic Society (FREE with in-app purchases, iPhone/iPad): This app from National Geographic Kids has in-app purchases for four different packs of facts, but provides 25 facts free. And in therapy, that's normally enough for me! With facts like "99 percent of pepople can't lick their elbows (but 90 percent of people who read this will try!)," we have a lot of fun in therapy. Kids practice reading the text, we discuss vocabulary words, and have conversations about the weird facts. Some facts are great for answering critical thinking questions, too. And yes, we try to lick our elbows!
Weird But True (Free, iPhone/iPad, IAP):
Shape Builder LITE by Darren Murtha Design (FREE, iPhone, iPad x2): This was the very first app I used in therapy, and the lite verison is just the same as it was when I installed it in 2010 — fun! The lite version contains 15 of the more than 150 puzzles on the full version, and for 99 cents, you will, like me, probably be quick to buy it (it has been updated more recently and is universal). It remains my favorite puzzle game for young kids. In therapy, I use it for naming vocabulary (including colors and letters), making predictions (What will the puzzle be? Why do you think that?), and describing the final puzzle.
Shape Builder LITE: Shape Builder Full ($.99)
There are a multitude of amazing professional apps developed for SLPs, and I probably use 90 percent of them. However, I know parents (and many therapists!) often can’t afford to spend $20 or $30 on just one app. Thankfully, I use far more than just professional apps in therapy. In addition to these, I use most book apps that I can find free to work on answering wh-questions and developing vocabulary.Though the SLP-specific apps that take data are a great asset to any SLP's iPad, they aren't required to provide effective therapy. Use some of these inexpensive or free apps, with an old-fashioned piece of paper to keep data, and start the school year with some great ways to address a variety of language goals.
Heather H. can't wait to start therapy and use some of these apps. Unfortunately, she has to climb the scheduling mountain first. And there's no good cheap app for THAT! **Update note: Heather H. may have managed the scheduling, but has never conquered the mountain of paperwork this year.