Who’s in the dog house? A Functional Communication Activity

doghouseI work with 5-6 year old moderate-severe students who are on the Autism Spectrum and many of them are working on simple cause/effect, joint attention, using 1-2 word phrases, and expressing their needs with pictures.I have found a material that many of the students enjoy, so I wanted to share in case you were needing some therapy ideas!  This population stumps me all the time because finding what interests them is like a giant puzzle.  Once you find the puzzle piece that fits, therapy is a blast!

You can find this toy on amazon (affiliate link included) or over at Learning Resources.  My school district let me buy this toy last year and it has been very useful!  Most of my 5-6 year old students are either emergent or entry level AAC users.  The little ones that do use words are still needing a multimodal communication approach (words, visual pictures, sentences strips, etc) to help facilitate language in social situations and the classroom.  So, I have been trying to find ways to use a set therapy material and tailor it for all levels of communication.

ruff's house

I made a Doghouse Activity Communication Board for my students that I want to build 2-3 word phrases without some any verbal prompts that you can grab on boardmaker share.  I also made a Doghouse Activity using Go Talk 20 template because I am trying out the Go-Talks with a couple of my students.  Trying to build MLU and the use of attributes, so I put the colors and how the bones feel on my boards.  Tried to get some comments in there as well!

expressive app 2I also made a static communication board using Expressive from Smarty Ears Apps.  It is $29.99 and contains 10,000 picture icons you can use to set up for your student’s communication needs.  This app has helped me figure out if a student can put together 2-3 icons independently and understand how to erase and add a message.  I did not really use this app as an advanced communication tool where the student had to navigate through several folders to create a message because I work with lower level students.

Expressive app 1One of the cool features is that I can use REAL photos, so this is helpful for students who may need visuals of their teachers or a photo to understand the vocabulary words.

expressive app 3It is very helpful to be able to add a color to certain buttons to help with teaching verbs, nouns, and descriptors.  You can add more than 24 icons in a folder, but the student would have to be able to scroll up and down to create messages.  Check out the video tutorial on Smarty Ears Apps which is very user friendly and a quick overview of how you can navigate the app.

What I love:

1.  Great price for the amount of picture icons you receive with this app and what you are able to customize.

2.  I love most of the picture icons and feel they are easy to understand.  The option to use photos helps when there is not a good picture for the word a person is wanting.  I also like that the option for real photos can open the door for using this app with emergent and entry level students.

3.  I like how I can create folders for set activities and organizing lessons is very user friendly.

4.  This has been a tool for me to determine if a student is able to navigate a static board and could potentially move to a more advanced communication device or if they need to stick in the entry level devices.


1.  Sometimes the voice output is difficult to hear and understand.

2.  When I played around with this app by myself, it took a long time to formulate a message because I had to go to different folders to find words.  It would be nice to have easier access to core vocabulary and phrases, but I think you could customize this by making a folder with common phrases for the particular user.  In terms of advanced users, they may get frustrated with creating a message quickly.  I don’t believe there is a keyboard either, which is also a limitation.

3.  It did take me some time to program one activity (what AAC device doesn’t take a long time)!  This is more of a question:  Can I upload an activity folder I created onto another IPAD or would I have to re-program that device with the icons all over again?

Overall, I like this app a lot and I think for the price it is a useful investment for trying out a communication app with a student.  It has been helpful for my students who need visual supports for communicating.  This app appears to be best for intermediate communication users, but can be use with entry level if customized with the different folders.  What do you think of this app?  I would love to hear your feedback about my communication boards I made with boardmaker.  I am still learning how to create AWESOME AAC boards!!

Graphics by JW Ilustrations and I’m Lovin’ Lit

Phono Learning Center by Smarty Ears App Review & Giveaway!


Today, I am going to share a MUST HAVE app from Smarty Ears that is designed for your students with a significant phonological processing sound system disorder.  The awesome part about this app is that it has been designed to fit the evidence-based cycles technique from Barbara Hodson.  Watch this  Smarty Ears Tutorial for a visual demonstration on how to use this app in therapy!

438541751_640To set up for a student, you press ‘add player’ and then you can confirm your student’s profile.  There is an option to include auditory bombardment and if you want to work at the word, phrase or sentence level.  Then, just pick which processes you want to remediate.  I love the feature of being able to put in a picture of the student.  My students loved getting their picture taken with my IPAD and then seeing their face each time we went to work!


After your student completes the auditory bombardment activity, your student can pick from four different activities: hot air balloon, matching, basket paper, or puzzle.  As they do each activity, there are a set of words with visual supports that the students practice throughout the activity.  This app closely follows the cycles approach and chooses only 5-6 words that the child says over and over to reduce the impact of co-articulation.  This allows the child to really work on the correct placement, manner and voicing for the targeted sound.


The other cool feature about this app is that you can take data while the activity is taking place.  I love how you have the option of taking data based on cues/prompts or the traditional correct/incorrect approach.
Why I love this app?

    • The graphics are bright, colorful and engaging.


  • There is an auditory bombardment activity to start each session, a much needed component to cycles approach therapy



  • I love how this app has 4 different activities to choose from, so students won’t get bored easily and will get lots of practice in!



  • Being able to choose how you want to take data, is a nice bonus.  I love how I can store data on each student and email it to myself or parents!!



  • The option to add a photo or cartoon avatar is a great feature for little ones to feel independent and successful knowing they have a special page just for them.



  • Having a bad day?  Numerous IEP’s, assessments and paperwork taking away from planning therapy?  This app allows you to not have to plan out all the elements for a cycles approach.  Of course, you have to mix up therapy, so the little ones don’t just use an IPAD every session, but this app is great for the traveling SLP who can’t take lots materials in his/her car or when your little ones are needing something to keep them focused!



  • This app is a great for taking progress report data because it is quick and easy to navigate as well as you can easily store data and input that information later on the IEP.



All in all, this app is well thought out and worth every penny.  Thank you Smarty Ears for allowing me the opportunity to try out this wonderful app and share my thoughts (no other compensation was provided, just this cool app for review)!  Grab your copy on ITUNES.  Smarty Ears graciously provided a copy for one of my faithful followers to win!!  Enter below to get a free copy!

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Storybook Maker app REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!!

It has been amusing listening to all the wild tales my 4 year old conjures up about his life at preschool.  His creativity and imagination is exciting to see grow and develop!  Watching my son creating stories has shown me how essential oral narration is for developing vocabulary, grammar, and higher order thinking skills such as inferencing and predicting.  As I have been dabbling with different resources to teach story telling, I realized how difficult this skill is for my language impaired kids.  So, I was so pleased to find this INTERACTIVE, AMAZING, AFFORDABLE app from Merge Mobile Apps.


Besides just being able to create stories, you can also make picture books, photo collages, and scrapbooks.   The other cool thing about this app is you can publish your book to Merge Mobile’s public library to share with all users of Storybook Maker around the world!  Check out this YouTube Preview Video to see this app in action.



There are many features and ways to create.  You can draw a story picture and add story lines or you can record your story for that page.  You can also use some animation that is already on the app and/or upload personal photos to create a personal narrative.  With this app you can change the font style and color, use drawing tools to create a picture, add your own personal photos, and move objects all around the page.  Once you have finished a drawing, you can then preview your story to see if it is set up like you want.


Here are some ways that you could use this app in therapy with your middle school students:

  • Use this to have your students with fluency disorders create a personal scrapbook about their family, interests, school classes, hobbies and strengths to help them to gain confidence in who they are as a person.  Then, have your students practice using their fluency strategies while presenting their scrapbook to you or their speech group.  Check out my scrapbook from my trip to Taos, NM.
  • Create social stories using real life pictures to help your students with social skill deficits.  You can make them generic or very personal to their needs.  Some topics for stories is what to do at lunch time, asking for help in class, how to ask to go to the bathroom, what to do when going to PE, and how to deliver a note or item to a teacher in another classroom.  HERE you can find MY OWN social story to keep me focused on staying fit and eating healthy.
  • For your language impaired students, you can work on new vocabulary, and grammar by creating informational stories about different topics such as facts about animals, inventions, sports, or famous people.  You can have them think of synonyms/antonyms, adjectives, prepositional phrases, or conjunctions to help create more interesting sentences.

I love how you can adapt this app to fit the “interests” of your students……after working with junior high students I had to find ways to keep them motivated….they are a tough bunch to work with, but once you figure out what they like, it becomes a very rewarding experience!

Ideas for how to use this app with preschool and elementary aged students:

  • Have your students create their own emotions book with their very own faces.  They can look through the book to see how happy, sad, nervous, excited and angry looks for them!  The coolest thing is that you can create the book into a PDF and email it to anyone you want.  This means you can email it to the student’s teacher and parent, so he can have access to this book ALL the time!
  • You can use other children’s stories by searching in the database for language processing and comprehension.  You or the student can read the story created by another child and then talk about the key story elements.
  • Have your students create a story about themselves!  You can go around the school taking pictures or have them use props from your therapy room to help take pictures.  As they create a story, have them practice their articulation sound or fluency techniques.
  • You could make a photo book filled with pictures of the students doing different actions.  Then the students could go through the book and describe what each person is doing working on grammar and verbs!

Grab this Storybook Maker App  for you therapy room and enjoy watching your student’s creativity unravel!  It is only $3.99 and can be used for so many goals!!

Now for the good news!  I have 3 FREE copies to GIVEAWAY thanks to Merge Mobile!!  Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a copy.

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If You Give A Dog A Donut Speech & Language Companion Pack

dog a donut

I wanted to make you all a companion pack and I thought about using another book with a dog theme since kids love dogs.  The book If You Give A Dog A Donut by Laura Numeroff has repetitive language, great pictures, and the dog participates in lots of activities such as playing baseball, picking apples, having a water fight and making his own kite!  This got my head spinning just thinking of fun ways to work on speech and language.  First up, I thought you could do a “donut” cooking activity and would cover concepts such as first, next, last, explaining the sequence of something, practicing articulation words during the cooking activity and learning new verbs and vocabulary such as “mix”, “pour”, “stir”, “preheat”, “combine”, “toss” and “fold”.  You can find this recipe for Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts by clicking on the photo below.maple-donut

You can also grab this FREE donut making app if you aren’t able to do cooking activities at your site.  Check it out on ITUNES.

If you had the materials, you could do an activity to make a kite with your kids.  It is great for working on following directions.  Prior to the craft, you could talk about what kind of weather you would fly a kite in, where you might go to fly a kite and describing a kite using different attributes.  Click on the picture below to go to a website with directions on how to make your own kite.


The dog in the book wants to play a little baseball, so you could work on word associations and multiple meaning words from baseball.  Check out my post on using this fun baseball game in your therapy rooms.  Just click on the picture below!


The dog ran out of apple juice, so he decided to go pick some apples to make more juice!

Now onto my book companion activities that I crafted up for you!Slide1


I included a visual poster of breakfast food items to work on categorization and describing items by attributes since a donut is something we eat for breakfast.  Word associations has been something that I like to target with my vocabulary kids, so I made a word association match up game with some of the words from the story along with a couple of extras.  There are pictures for your younger crowd.  Just play like a memory or go fish style game.Included is a past/present tense verb sort and a template for a VENN DIAGRAM to work on comparing/contrasting.  There is a past/present verb sort with words from the book, in which you can have your students sort the cards onto the correct tree.

picture 1 for dog

Have your students work on story comprehension and retell with my story lesson guide.  I have included visual pictures to help with story retell!


Can’t have a book companion pack without an open ended game from Thedabblingspeechie!?  Play my Dunkin’ Donuts game while you practice any speech or language target.  The player to collect the most donuts is the winner.  If you pick up a coffee card, you get an extra turn because donuts and coffee are so yummy together.  Pick up a box of donut and put one donut card back because someone stole a donut out of the box!


And, here is a craftivity template for making a kite in which students can write their speech sounds, practice following directions and write down any target vocabulary words.  Students can decorate the kite after they finish making their craft!  Grab this  companion pack at TPT STORE!  I hope these ideas help save you some time with planning therapy as we all have lots of end of the year IEP’s and assessments.  Have a great rest of the year!!

How to use Tap Roulette App in Therapy- A Guest Post from Speech Room News

Today, I have a guest post from Jenna Rayburn over at Speech Room News here today to share about how to use a FREE app she found to use in your therapy rooms.  I am always dabbling with my IPAD trying to find FREE apps that I can use with my kids, so I am excited to have Jenna sharing with us all.  I love her blog and all her creativity!
I’m so happy to be sharing a quick idea with you today! Writing guests post is always fun! You can find similar ideas over at Speech Room News if you enjoy what your read!
Tap Roulette is a great free app that we’ve been using for a variety of activities in my Speech Room! The free app works by allowing students to place one finger on the screen. It then randomly selects one person by turning the screen red around it.
As you can tell, this app will work for any speech or language goal.

Here are a few ways I have used it!

1. Decide who will go first during a game.

2. Articulation: Each child says a word from their card deck and then put their finger on Tap Roulette. The student who wins gets one point.

3. Language: Students answer questions and if they complete it correctly they earn a chance play Tap Roulette. The student who wins earns one point!
It’s a perfect app to use when you have an extra 5 minutes at the end of a session and is ideal for the busy SLP in the schools! Do you have any other ideas for Tap Roulette?
Jenna Rayburn, MA, CCC-SLP, is a school based speech-language pathologist. She blogs at Speech Room News. You can find her permanently connected to her iPhone and therefore social media at Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!

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