Archives for ipad

Lego: Life of George

The Dilemma:

If asked what my boys love to do in therapy, it always comes down to 3 things: Angry Birds, iPad and Legos. If you read back to my post on Angry Birds, you can see that I linked the iPad and interactive play into the same activity. I really enjoy doing this with iPad based activities. But it isn’t always easy. Lego based iPad apps are often highly involved games, movie makers, etc and they are solely iPad based. I like activities with manipulatives in the immediate therapeutic environment. Legos are great but come with a variety of dilemmas as well. The games come with a MILLION pieces and take time to set up, and time is valuable in any session! Just straight Legos often require me to provide extensive structure – time limits, goals, purpose, etc.

The Solution:

I was walking through a local bookstore recently and a strange box caught my eye. It looked like (yet another) Lego game, but there was a mention of iOS. So I stopped to read it. I then walked out of the store with a very popular purchase, my guys LOVE it! Let me introduce you to “Life of George

The Features:

The package

Life of George comes in a nice small box, so less space taken up in my closet!  The 14+ age range on the front of the box has me a little concerned, considering a lot of my clients are 5th grade or younger. However, after playing it just once on my own, I knew even my 2nd graders would be able to handle this activity. Also, it specifies that the app attached to the box contents was for iPhone. Although you can use iPhone apps on the iPad, sometimes it really isn’t that functional. The graphics get fuzzy, the app navigation isn’t as responsive, etc. But again, it seemed too good to be true, so I had to give it a try! It worked GREAT on the iPad! It was a tad grainy in some scenes, but the navigation and game play don’t seem to be impacted at all when using the “2x” feature.

Box contents

Inside the box were two bag of Legos (put in ziplock baggies by me) and a thick card with a grid printed on it. The app is a free download from the iTunes store. You are given a map of continents to select from, and it brings you to a scrapbook like page with blank photos. Each photo you click on is a new, timed, challenge in which you build the Lego constructed image presented on the page . Within the time limit you not only need to construct the image, but also place it on the card and snap a picture which is then scored by the app.

The Lesson

I have paired this activity with a few different lessons. It clearly can work as an incentive, and the nice thing is that each round is extremely short. So, letting each member of your speech group play a round at the end won’t take any significant time away from your therapy. I also have a group with whom I have been working on “waiting turns”. This involves discussing what we do while waiting for our turn in a game and how our words/actions/attention impacts the group. Cheering, advice and even “awww mmmaaannnn…” when an oops occurs are some of the things we work on. We discuss it as a group, because often both parties need practice giving AND receiving. We practice giving helpful advice (versus “know-it-all” advice) and accepting advice from peers. We also talk about cheering to encourage versus to distract them from doing better than you. This is a great game to practice this on because cheering during a Lego activity is MUCH different than cheering through a gross motor activity (like Angry Birds)! We aren’t going to be jumping up and down screaming “GET THAT BLOCK! YEAH!”. Instead we can talk about how loud our voice should be using a 5 point scale, and specific things we can comment on (ex: “Yeah, the yellow block! Nice job!”). I keep tally marks on the board for who comments/cheered/etc and they get to “earn” their turn at the game by participating throughout their waiting turns. After each round, I ask the player how the cheers and advice made them feel. It’s great for them to hear from each other how they are impacting the group!


  • Practice snapping the picture of the creations on the grid a few times on your own BEFORE moving this into therapy. If the lighting is bad, there is a lot of reflection  you snap is sideways, etc you end up without ANY points. If something does go wrong, I’ll often have the students “judge” each other to off-set the bad score and hurt feelings.
  • You cannot replay a round – so there is no “fixing” it. I’ve gotten around this by simply deleting the app and then re-downloading it to clear EVERYTHING. I have enough groups playing that this allows us to play for weeks on end.
  • If you are going to be re-installing the app routinely, take a picture of the blank “scrapbook” page and print it out for each group. Then group members can keep track of which ones they have done to avoid the “awww… I did this already! This is dumb” stalemate.
  • Go through and check all of the images first, making note of ones that might not be appropriate. For example, the first time you access the North America page, you get a bar scene and the first image is a cocktail. Thankfully, the bar doesn’t reappear on subsequent visits to that scrapbook and the image itself appears less clear once “completed”. All of my students think its a flamingo *smile*
  • I am sure to explain the game to parents and often ask that they do NOT purchase this app as soon as they leave therapy. I have frequently run into the situation where parents go out and purchase a game that their child LOVES in therapy, and then it stops working for me in therapy. Ug!
  • They have recently come out with a NEW app, Build Your Brain, that works with the same materials! This is “game show” based and involves some problem solving to answer questions with the blocks. Not great for my younger ones, but the middle schoolers are loving it!

Go enjoy some Legos in therapy this week! *smile*

– Tara, the SpeechyKeenSLP


*Disclaimer: When I link to a product on Amazon, I do include my associates code. I do this to help purchase more therapy items down the road! If this bothers you, simple go to Amazon and search for it on your own and it will not count any of the purchase towards me!

#ASHA11 Recap – Apps

The iPad and Apps were an even bigger part of the ASHA convention this year compared to last. The exhibit hall had multiple apps booths, with people willing to demo the apps and let you play yourself.  Some companies present were established and well known in the SLP community, like SmartEars, while others were newer and just breaking into the therapy world. I currently do not own many of these apps, but wanted to get this information out there for you to access. I plan on purchasing some of these in the future, I’m going to have to set an app budget each month or I could be in big trouble!




One of the first app booths I found was MouthWorks. Tucked into one of the first rows in the exhibit hall, I was very excited about playing with this app.  An exciting mix of real mouth videos and adorable graphics, this app offers practice at the single phoneme level up to CVCV combination for younger clients. Although you cannot transfer the data out of the app currently, a recent conversation with the company indicates it might become an option down the road.  It will soon be hitting the iTunes store, estimated arrive is the end of November or beginning of December – I plan on giving it a try!


Little Bee Speech showed off their app on the floor as well. A phoneme based menu, you have the options of the word, sentence or reading level. The app offers a lot of customization throughout, with the ability to make changes to selections during activities. And it has one of my favorite features – the ability to save data and e-mail it to yourself! I just downloaded this app today, so a longer review coming soon!In the meantime, a video walkthrough of the app can be found here.


Pocket SLP was another app company on the floor. They explain how they are SLPs by day, on the floor with their students, and programmers by night, creating apps that are motivating for their students. This company has multiple apps, including ones for articulation, minimal pairs and one with the anatomy of the mouth for speech modelings with older clients. They are advertising a lot of apps coming soon, covering language, reading and even opposits! And always a favorite feature of mine, you can keep data within the app and e-mail it to yourself at the end. And the fact that they are available on the android market AND in the Apple app store? I love an equal opportunity app!


Tactus therapy had a different approach to their apps. Their focus is for individuals with aphasia and brain injury. A husband (programmer) and wife (SLP) team, they have three apps currently on iTunes: Comprehension, Naming, Writing. Reading is coming soon.  Although designed for a different target population, many SLPs have been reporting great results using these apps for their language students. Another one that allows you to e-mail results, I’m excited to possibly play with this app in the future.




A pretty popular app company, Smarty Ears Apps has 30+ apps available in the iTunes store. Covering a variety of therapy areas, their app topics include dysphagia, articulation, AAC, bilingualism, fluency, questions, articulation tests and productivity apps for the working SLP. With such a wide variety, you’ll want to visit the site the really explore each app in depth. I have heard great things about the artic test!



Be sure to check out these companies and see which apps will work for you! More in depth reviews will be coming in the upcoming weeks as I begin to play with them more. Happy app shopping!

– Tara, SpeechyKeenSLP