It's always exciting for me to review a new product, especially one as dynamic as SPARK Cards! I can appreciate the hard work involved in not only creating educational items, but also the effort needed in promoting the tool. While you can easily go on this website to find the details about SPARK Cards, I want to give you an honest review of how I found benefit in using these cards in my private practice. DISCLOSURE: Other than a complimentary set, no other compensation was provided in exchange for this review. Opinions expressed in this post are unbiased and solely mine. If you would like to purchase this product, then I have shared my Amazon Associate link at the end of this review.
Those of you familiar with my background know that I own and operate a private speech and language practice in my home office in Naperville, Illinois. I have been treating clients of all ages from birth through high school since 1995 and over the last six years, have worked exclusively in private practice. I see a variety of children locally who have delays in articulation, phonological processing, fluency, comprehension, and expressive language, so I am always on a hunt for a versatile product that can be used across multiple ages and abilities.
In addition to my home office visits, I have been working as a telepractitioner and independent contractor for the last three years. During this time, I have uploaded all of my favorite activities to virtual platforms and I have purchased a document camera to utilize objects, sensory bins, and my iPad in teletherapy.
Over the last month, I have been using SPARK Cards in my home office and teletherapy sessions with good success across a wide variety of ages, abilities, and settings. Some of my favorite features include:
- Durable cardboard cards with a gloss finish to withstand being handled by many, little hands
- Ability to use a dry erase marker to bring attention to teaching concepts
- Functional stories that support making connections to daily living
- Detailed descriptions for each card in a sequence to make session planning easier for the busy SLP and facilitate generalization of skills in the home setting
- Hypothetical problem solving probes for each topic
- Appropriate for children as young as four years old through middle school-aged clients
I used these cards in teletherapy in two, different ways. One of my clients is working towards sentence formulation for functional tasks, so I scanned and loaded the Going to the Library deck in sequential order so we could address his goal without taxing the activity with sequencing. This particular deck is my favorite in the collection because we can talk about the library year round. I also like that the library itself mirrors a dated one that has patrons returning and checking out books the old fashioned way by handing them to a librarian. It's a nice way to compare/contrast past and present features. I added some humor to the activity by joking about seeing a ladder. We addressed answering yes/no questions and problem solving in a lighthearted way that I feel improves engagement and attention in any task.
The second way that I used the sequencing cards was via my document camera. Another virtual client needs to improve sequencing skills, so I took three at a time from the Making a Lemonade Stand deck to provide choices while addressing sequential ordering. The three cards with kitchen backgrounds are my favorite ones in this series because I could again work on comparing/contrasting room features in the pictures to my client's kitchen. Making these kinds of connections helps strengthen memory skills and brings much more meaning to our language activity.
While I LOVE the convenient portability of the SPARK collection and ease at which I can store it in my ever growing therapy closet, I would like to see the cards enlarged a little. Some of the smaller features are missed in my office sessions as I cannot magnify or zoom in on the cards as I can online. There is just so much fabulous detail in each card, that I would be saddened if my clients missed them.
I imagine that SPARK Cards would be a welcomed, educational tool in any Speech Pathologist's setting, especially in schools with mixed groups as you can cover so many speech and language goals with just one product! Even students working on articulation goals could utilize this product, especially those needing drills at the sentence/conversational level. Specifically, the acronym SPARK stands for the following language probes embedded in each sequencing deck:
Sequencing and sentence formulation
Predicting, problem solving, picture interpretation
Analyzing and answering 'WH' questions
Retelling a story and reasoning skills
Knowledge of basic concepts and vocabulary
Whether you work in private practice, school setting, or are looking for a comprehensive product to promote improving language skills at home, then SPARK Cards would be a affordable addition to your tool kit!