AHOY Mateys!!! With Talk Like a Pirate Day coming up on September 19th, I have the PERFECT app for your articulation therapy sessions next week! The developers at Home Speech Home recently released their new app: Articulation Hunt and were kind enough to allow me to review it. Please note that the opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and without bias.
First, a brief review of setup. When you go into the Settings tab, you will see links for support and rating the app. Also, there are three features that you can toggle on/off: voice activation, sound effects, and music. Keep in mind that the voice activation feature does not have the capability to identify correct vs. incorrect sound productions. Honestly, I am hoping that it stays that way for a long, long time because it makes having a communicative partner necessary to play this game. These partners help monitor production accuracy and carryover into other settings. You can only advance to reinforcing game play after sound practice once someone has rated productions as correct or incorrect. With regards to the background sounds on the main screen, I personally have always enjoyed the soothing sounds of the ocean, so I kept my toggle switch for sound effects in the on position and listened to it while writing this post. Finally, I took note that my younger clients between the ages of 4-5 years old, especially liked the music during games. If it becomes distracting, then you can easily toggle it off.
Before you can start, you will need to add some players. Once you click the + to add a player, you are directed to the screen below.
This app allows you to select up to 6 players at a time, but I only practiced with individuals in my private practice sessions. It's wonderful that school SLPs have this option though as it allows many to participate in mixed articulation group settings. You are able to personalize sound targets for each player. Being able to play with multiple players also lends well for including family members in games for carryover practice. To create profiles, simply tap the Add Picture button and select one of the following: take picture, camera roll, or use avatar.
If you decide to use an avatar, then you have two choices, which is just fine with me! When clients have dozens of avatar options, I find that it takes forever for them to decide because we need to look at each and every one....., twice.
Now, it's time to play! One of the best things about this app is that you can select to download sounds as you need them. This is such a space saver and it only takes a few seconds to load new sounds. Once downloaded, you also have an option to pick one sound position for practice. Below that, you will find options: slow, medium, and fast that are in reference to the speed at which the reinforcement game will be played. More on that in a little bit.
The game begins with an actual image of a target picture and instruction to complete a certain number of productions. If voice activation is on, then each time the client says the word, a star will change from grey to yellow. Again, this does not mean that the app is rating correct vs. incorrect productions. Rather, a communicative partner will need to rate productions with a green check mark or red X. Once all productions are rated, you get to play a matching game using the same target picture just practiced. The bottom right hand corner will display the picture while an array of picture bubbles float on by. This is where the speed set up comes into play. Younger clients may need pictures to soar slowly across the screen in order to tap matching ones. Tap and say the correct target to earn jewels, but make a mistake and you will get a skull head. I like how this hand/eye coordination component was included in this app. The game is a nice reinforcement and once 50 jewels are collected, you advance to another land with the same premise, but a different backdrop.
After you have spent some time playing, you can go to the data tab and select the person you would like to view. Here, you can see the date, target, position, and score. If you want to add a note/comment, you can quickly attach one to the session. All of this information can be emailed via the envelope icon in the upper right hand corner.
In summary, I liked several things about this app:
- Soothing sounds of the ocean on the main screen.
- Ability to play with up to 6 players for school articulation groups and/or home practice with family.
- Limited number of avatar choices eliminates wasting precious time looking through dozens of options.
- Saving space by downloading only the sound targets needed.
- Need for a communicative partner to rate sound productions.
- Hand/eye coordination game play.
- Note section in data collection link to make comments.
In the future, I would like to see this app include phrase and simple sentence levels to grow with clients as they make gains in speech. This is likely challenging due to the voice activation component, but I would be willing to lose that in order to gain higher speech levels.