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Top 7 Multiplayer Apps that are Perfect for Speech Therapy

posted on December 15th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Top 7 Multiplayer Apps that are Perfect for Speech Therapy

If you're an iPad fan like me, I'm sure you'll agree that iPad apps have a lot to offer us as school-based speech-language pathologists. Not only does this digital device give us access to some of the coolest and most unique speech therapy apps out there (like Multiple Choice Articulation, Charades Articulation, etc.) but there are tons of apps on the App Store that, while not made specifically designed for SLPs to use, can still be extremely beneficial for the kiddos on our caseload, especially when used as a reinforcer. One genre of iPad apps that's often overlooked or just plain unheard of is the one that I call the multiplayer, single device genre. In short, apps that fall in this category are games that have a 2-player component to them (or sometimes even a 4-player component!), thus, making them ideal for small group therapy sessions that contain more than one student.

Two-players using ONE device?!

Yup! If you look hard enough, you can find a slew of fun apps for your iPad that allow students to play side-by-side with one another on the same device. But here's the catch, you have to look kind of hard to find these types of multiplayer, single device apps because they aren't the most popular apps out there. But don't worry though because I've done the heavy lifting for you. I've discovered a handful of apps that I've happily been using for some time now. And not only do I dig these apps, my elementary and middle school students all give them two thumbs up, WAY UP. These apps are the types where you can easily convince students to, "let's just do about do about 20 minutes worth of these questions and then after that, we can play this quick game on the iPad as a brain break." Believe me, you're going to adore these apps.

So without further ado, I present to you my top 7 favorite multiplayer apps that are MUST HAVES for SLPs.

  • 1. Wrestle Jump by Otto-Ville Ojala - This one is first on my list for good reason. It's because Wrestle Jump is my absolute favorite multiplayer, single device game EVER! This was the first app that showed me how two students could successfully play with one iPad at the same time. This 2-player game takes no more than a minute and a half to play. The game is simple, two wrestlers are locked in hand-to-hand jumping combat. Your goal is to bang the other wrestler's head against the ground in order to win the round. The first wrestler to do this on 5 separate occasions wins. It's currently $1.99 and so worth it. Perfect for both elementary and middle school-aged kiddos.
  • 2. Tug the Table by Otto-Ville Ojala - From the makers of Wrestle Jump comes yet another beautifully made multiplayer, single device game. In this tug-of-war inspired game, both players are tapping on a button on the iPad's screen in hopes of pulling the opposing player over the line. Just like Wrestle Jump, Tug the Table is also good for elementary and middle school aged students. It's $1.99. Buy it right now, you won't regret it.
  • 3. OLO game by Sennep - I have to give this game BIG props because it's one of only a few games out there that has a 4-player component to it. Imagine that? One device and four students successfully cooperating and playing the same game? Yes, it's possible with OLO. This game of skill and strategy reminds me of a variation of shuffleboard (or maybe the Olympic sport called curling). Your goal is to slide your team's circle into your target zone to score a point. If your circle doesn't go far enough, no point. If it goes too far, no point. You have to slide your circle JUST RIGHT in order to snag the point. It's currently FREE so you have no excuse to not give it a go.
  • 4. Cat Pong by SinSquid - My middle schoolers adore this silly variation of ping pong. This 2-player app let's each person play as a cat and each cat hits the ball of yarn to the other cat. But don't blink because if you tap your cat at the wrong moment, the ball of yarn will just fly past you! First cat to score 10 points is the winner. I've noticed that the game play of this app is a bit tricky for my younger elementary school students to get the hang of, but my middle schoolers have no problem at all. So download it today for your older kiddos! This app is FREE and each round takes no more than about 45 seconds.
  • 5. Air Hockey Gold by Acceleroto - From younger students to older students, this game never fails to excite! We've all played air hockey before and this app digitizes that fun experience perfectly. In this 2-player game, you use your mallet to hit your hockey puck into your opponent's net. First player to score 7, wins! The mallets are easy to control and the puck rockets so nicely across the table. It's extremely realistic and totally FREE! Does it get any better than that? I think not.
  • 6. Air Hockey Mania - Disky by Crazy Labs - While we're on the subject of air hockey, I'd be crazy not to mention this one crazy variation of the classic air hockey game that we all know and love. It's called Disky and the goal of this game is to use a slingshot to blast your colored disc into your opponent's court. And yes I said slingshot. You use your finger to pull back the slingshot to shoot your disc and let me tell you, it gets VERY intense. The game take about a minute and change to play and it's FREE! Will you give this app a download? (You better!)
  • 7. Tap Tap Power! Multiplayer Party Game by Voyage Travel Apps - This is a fast, frantic, and fun multiplayer game for two to four players that you MUST try. Yup, another 4-player game, just like OLO. All you need to do with this game is tap your area when it's lit to score a point and don't tap your area when it's not lit or you lose a point. It's really that simple, but trust me, it gets very tricky to keep up! There are also a couple of wacky twists that the developers added into this game like power ups that can be dragged to your area for more points or these cool hazard icons that can be dragged over to your opponent's area to cause them to lose points. This game is FREE and totally wants to live inside of your iPad. So, why don't you download it and give it a nice home?

In closing . . .

Use these multiplayer iPad apps as a refreshing pause from the usual speech therapy routine. I guarantee you that you'll absolutely see the efficiency and morale of your students increase once they have these apps to look forward to after a block of speech therapy drills. Oh, and full disclosure, I don't personally know any of the app developers that created any of the apps mentioned in this top 7, nor was I given any promotional codes to download them. I downloaded them under my own free will and I truly believe that their creations seriously ROCK! You will, too.

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3 Strange Places That No Speech-Language Pathologist Should Ever Be Forced to Work In

posted on December 2nd, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
3 Strange Places That No Speech-Language Pathologist Should Ever Be Forced to Work In

School-based speech-language pathologists are no strangers to being forced to provide speech-language therapy services in, well, STRANGE places. For example, an old broom closet, an old custodian closet, or even smack dab in the middle of the school's cafeteria (while the band was on stage practicing their instruments). Boy oh boy, just when I think I've heard it all, I get one more email about an odd place that a fellow clinician is being forced to work in.

So wacky right? Ugh!

If it were up to us, we would ALL absolutely have our own classrooms because it only makes sense that a location like that would enable ALL of us to create an environment conducive to learning and growth. But I know, not all of us are able to have our own classrooms for one reason or another, and though we aren't thrilled about that fact, we will survive (because speech-language pathologists are THEE most adaptable educators on the planet). However, we want to make it loud and clear that there are a few locations that we REFUSE to work in, so I compiled a list that highlights the top 3 locations that we will NOT provide speech-language services in. Never. Ever!

1. The roof of the school.

Listen, I really don't think I'm going to be able to give that articulation assessment appropriately because the wind keeps blowing in my ears each time I try to hear if the student pronounced the target sound in the right manner. So, yea, don't ask me to move my desk to the roof of the school because it ain't happening. Oh, and I hate heights. Thanks but no thanks.

2. In the tree right next to the school.

Wait, do I look like I have feathers? Trees are for birds, NOT clinicians. Imagine sitting on a branch while attempting to track data with one hand while trying to keep balance with the other. It's an accident waiting to happen! So, yea, don't ask me to move my desk up to the tree right next to the school because it ain't happening. Oh, and I don't particularly enjoy the idea of a bird pooping on me while I'm trying to write a progress note. Thanks but no thanks.

3. On the ceiling of a classroom.

Yes, it's obvious that the school is overcrowded and that floor space is limited, but the idea that we might be able to take advantage of the ceiling space is a bit insane, don't cha think?! I mean, do you really think it's a good idea to ask the custodians to nail my desk to the ceiling?! How are my students and I supposed to work on various lessons WHILE we're upside down?! So, yea, don't ask me to do the whole ceiling thing because it ain't happening. Oh, and the thought of me accidentally dropping my iPad and having it fall from the ceiling down to the floor is terrifying (it already has enough bumps and bruises on it). Thanks but no thanks.

In closing . . .

So, are you being forced to work in an unusual place? If you are, don't fret because it could be worse, right? You could be on the roof, in a tree, or upside down on the ceiling, HAHA! But in all seriousness, if our building principals and/or administrators want to keep us SLPs happy, just give us our own room to work our miraculous speech-language therapy magic in because we SO deserve it. ;-)

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When Was the Last Time You Thanked Your Old Professor or Supervisor?

posted on November 23rd, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
When Was the Last Time You Thanked Your Old Professor or Supervisor?

When I think back to the earlier days of my voyage towards becoming a speech-language pathologist, the first images that come to my mind are visions of my old professors and supervisors being quite helpful. Those intelligent and accomplished souls took time out of their busy days to teach me as much as they possibly could, all in an effort to get me as prepared as possible to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals with various communication difficulties.

I have so much gratitude for them and what they did for me.

And sure, we all know that professors and supervisors get paid to do that kind of stuff. It's their job to teach their undergraduate and graduate students the ins and outs of communication sciences and disorders, but there are just SO many educators out there that consistently go above and beyond the call of duty.

Wouldn't you agree?

I know you've had at least one professor or supervisor in your life like that and I can bet that he/she has taught you a thing or two (or ten!) about all things SLP. So check this out, I wanted to take this moment to ask you the following question:

When was the last time you reached out to him/her to say thank you?

I want to challenge you to do something today. Not tomorrow or over the weekend, but TODAY. First, think of that one professor or supervisor that you feel always went above and beyond the call of duty for you. Then, no matter how long ago you had that educator, email him/her to say thank you. Was there a particular piece of content that you learned from that educator where each time you come across it in your professional life, it reminds you of him/her? Did one of the stories that he/she shared in a particular class resonate with you in such a way that you still think about it? If so, mention mention those things to that person in an email as a way to show genuine thanks! Communicate your gratitude because he/she deserves to know. Am I right?

In closing . . .

Are you up for my challenge? Will you take this moment to pause what you're doing and reach out to your favorite professor or supervisor to give 'em props for being so dang cool? I hope you do. And here's the thing, maybe it was a long time ago and maybe you haven't contacted this educator in forever. Don't worry, it's fine. Don't let the lapse of time keep you from saying thank you. Trust me, no matter how long ago ago it was, that educator WILL remember exactly who you are and your words of thanks will fill that person's heart with joy. Remember, our old professors and supervisors have all played a part in helping us to become the marvelous speech-language pathologist that we all are today. So please, do accept my challenge to thank 'em and let me know how it goes.

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Using Silly Sentences to Help Students Grow as Effective Communicators

posted on November 11th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Using Silly Sentences to Help Students Grow as Effective Communicators

Hey! Guess what? I made a new app called Silly Sentence Articulation and it's a hilariously good time. It took me about a zillion years to make and I'm beyond excited that it's NOW finally live on the Apple App Store for you to check out. You're gonna love it!

Want to know more about the new app?

Sure you do! Silly Sentence Articulation is a comprehensive collection of over 500 silly sentences (also known as absurdities) that were specifically designed for us speech-language pathologists to use with kiddos on our caseload who exhibit difficulty producing the following speech sounds: S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, and TH. It's intended to aid in the remediation of articulation impairments, as well as auditory and language difficulties because our clients often need practice in more than one area of communication.

Here's why I think students should be exposed to silly sentences:

Introducing our students to silly sentences serves two purposes - both necessary in effective problem solving and decision-making. First, it helps them become more aware of the need to logically analyze information and apply common sense reasoning to communication. Second, it helps them to begin to recognize absurdity as being a key component of humor, which assists in building emotional balance and intellectual growth. Pretty cool, if ya ask me!

Here's why I know all children will adore this app:

There's just so much audio for their ears to listen to! I spent a crazy amount of hours recording and re-recording the silly sentences AND the audio narrative that details WHY each and every sentence is silly. I poured my heart and soul into this particular app and I know that my wackiness will absolutely resonate with your students. And hopefully, it resonates with you, too!

So how about you give my latest app a try?

The silly sentence format within Silly Sentence Articulation is a departure from traditional articulation drill work and is effective for students ages 6 and up. Because of this unique format, clients enjoy saying the silly sentences to their friends and classmates outside of the speech therapy room, further practicing their communication skills and thereby facilitating the sometimes difficult stage of carrying over newly-acquired skills. By reviewing the silly sentences with the client, paraprofessionals in the classroom and/or parents at home can reinforce the client's skills while sharing a fun activity. And we all know that practicing communication skills in environments outside the speech therapy setting is how we can help generalization to occur.

In closing . . .

I invite you to download Silly Sentence Articulation RIGHT NOW because something tells me that it's just what you've been waiting for. I guarantee you that my silly sentences will initiate exciting and lively conversations within your speech therapy room. And the really cool thing is that every silly sentence has the potential for leading almost anywhere. Even a silly sentence that appears simple can trigger a unique thought process and complex response. There just ain't nothin' cooler than that, so let your imagination run wild and have a ball with Silly Sentence Articulation! (Oh, and tell your friends about it!)

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