I’ve been using my iPad in therapy for the last couple of years. I tend to use apps which aren’t specifically for speech and language therapy (like the fabulous ones from Toca Boca) as motivators and to work on language and social skills through play.
The principle of Colourful Semantics appeals to me, as I’m a fan of clear structure, but the hundreds of small pieces of coloured paper always put me off! Watch Helen Blatchford explain how Colourful Semantics works.
This app removes the need for lots of printing, cutting and laminating, it’s all there ready to go. The app is loaded with a set of photos and the corresponding sentences. You can work at various levels: who, what doing, what, where and describe – which are all colour coded. When you start the game, a photo is presented and the child is asked a set of questions, for example: “who is in the picture?” The child responds by selecting the correct symbol from a choice of four and is given feedback as well as an opportunity to practise saying the sentence after the model.
What I like about the app
- It can collect data about a child’s performance, the app tracks how a child is doing – what a time saver.
- The app is visually motivating for children, and I think they’d find it fun and engaging.
- There is a clear structure, so children would quickly learn what they’re expected to do.
- The voice that says each sentence is a lovely clear British accent!
- The app is customisable; you can turn the music off (I’m easily distracted,) turn the praise off (see my view on praise here) and mute the rather directive: “your turn to say it.”
Things I think could be improved
- It seems to present the pictures in the same order each time you play, which becomes repetitive.
- The app presents the whole sentence (the cat is eating food outside) when you’re on the simplest level and the child is practising ‘who’ – which is confusing.
- It’s wonderful that you can add your own photos to the app, however the procedure is currently time consuming and some of the options (e.g. symbols) I required when I tried to add a picture of myself eating a bowl of soup weren’t available.
Mirla Gaz uses this helpful heuristic when reviewing apps:
“In order for me to recommend a therapy app, I need to feel that it can simplify the life of the therapist and will be a fun learning experience for children.”
This app will be a fun learning experience for children. When I compare this version of colourful semantics to the paper based one, it absolutely simplifies life for the SLT. However, in its current form, adding your own photos is not yet simple enough for me to justify the £27.99 price tag.