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Language Empires by Smarty Ears—-an app that rules! {APP REVIEW}

LE cover

An  “empire”  is defined as a group of states or peoples united and ruled by an authority—and Smarty Ears has definitely shown us that it is an authority when it comes to technology in speech therapy and it’s newest creation “Language Empires” rules in the land of apps!!

I was given the opportunity to review Language Empires, just released by Smarty Ears on January 2nd!   The app is currently selling in the itunes store for $19.99  (it will go back to full price of $29.99 on 1/10/13).  From inferencing to sequencing to vocabulary, predicting, figurative language and WH questions, this app does it all!   If you have older students on your caseload working on higher level language goals, (such as myself) then this app will definitely fit the bill!  The app’s theme is represented by several historical empires.  Love this!  Could it be used as a teachable cross-curricular moment?? I think it makes for a great opportunity to turn a language lesson into a history lesson too!!

LE cover

Let’s see how Language Empires takes us on a trip around the world—from ancient times and into the future….

LE players

To start, you will need to select the “visit the city” option and select the players.  You can choose from an avatar (many are appropriately themed to fit this app—gladiator, pharaoh, knight, etc), your own photo or no picture at all.  This game allows for 1-5 players at a time.  Players can choose more than one location in order to address several language goals in the same game.

LE map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also a “quick play” option.  No need to set up players and collect data with this feature, just start playing with the avatar provided–a great option when you have only a few minutes to fill at the end of a session.

Once you have chosen your players and enter the main game screen, drag  your player to the selected empires.  You can choose from Ancient Egypt (figurative language), Ancient Greece (vocabulary), Medieval Times (inferencing), Ancient Mayan Civilization (predicting), China (WHY questions), Great Britain (WHICH questions), Roman Empire (HOW questions), and The Future (sequencing).

LE intro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each language area is introduced by a very creative poem—a great way to catch your student’s attention and provide an example of the skill being addressed.

 

LE vocab levels

Two or three levels of play are presented for each language area.  This feature makes the app truly versatile for a wide range of age/ability levels.  I teach in a school with students from ages 8-18 and will surely find value in all levels of play!

LE vocab

Each question includes a photo that supports the scenario being addressed.  The photos provide helpful contextual cues.

LE results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LE treasurese

As you answer questions correctly, you earn rewards or “treasures” which are saved and can be accessed on each student’s profile.  You can  earn up to 95 possible treasures such as a  Roman toga, Mayan horse and Egyptian headgear!

LE performance

Language Empire (like all Smarty Ears apps)  collects data to create a report of your performance by breaking down the percentage correct in each area practiced.  It also offers a nice visual bar graph to view skill levels and  overall performance.  Results can be emailed, printed out or shared.

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I liked the practical scenarios presented in the predicting, inferencing and figurative language empires.  The colored photos work great as supplemental visual cues.  The sequencing category was my favorite part of the game.  I liked the practicality and historical content used such as– the first man landing on the moon, Ben Franklin, The Wright Brothers, the Olympics and food-related sequences.

I found the game to be very user-friendly, liked the ability to turn the background music on/off, and the option to display written questions or remove them (which may be beneficial when focusing on auditory comprehension, listening skills)

I don’t have many criticisms for this app.  If I had to make one critique, I would say that although I enjoyed the beautiful, detailed visuals in each of the empires, some of them may be a bit distracting to some of my students.

Thank you Smarty Ears for producing another wonderful learning tool for use in our therapy rooms!!

 

 

 

“Easy-Peezy” (Kid Friendly) Apple Pie {with “Speech Snacks” for /l/}

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If your kids like to help you cook in the kitchen,  then you are sure to have a great time preparing this recipe together.    And if they are working on the /l/ sound, you will find lots of opportunities to reinforce this sound, work on direction following, practice sequencing steps and your older kids will have a chance to practically apply their knowledge of fractions.

When my son was in preschool, we took a cooking class together.  This is one of the many fun recipes we learned to prepare.  It’s been several years since we took that cooking class—(time sure flies the older we get)—and  I still enjoy making this simple apple pie with him and reliving the memories of that special “mommy-son time” we shared not so long ago! Continue reading ““Easy-Peezy” (Kid Friendly) Apple Pie {with “Speech Snacks” for /l/}” »

Almost Lasagna—{with “Speech Snacks” for /l/}

cut and serve

If you’re looking for a hearty Italian meal that’s nutritious and simple to make, look no further!  I call this recipe “Almost Lasagna” because while it includes many of the ingredients found in a traditional lasagna, it does not require several layers of noodles, meat and cheese that could make it a bit more time consuming and fussy.  Instead, you will layer and spread each ingredient just once. And I’ve “tweaked” it a bit to make it healthy and gluten free.  It’s hard to leave the cheese out of this one, so if you need a dairy-free option, you could use soy cheese, but remember that soy products are not casein free so it will not meet the standards for a GFCF diet.    Once you’ve done all the prep work, get your kids to assemble it…it’s fun and easy for them to do, as you will see in the photos below! Continue reading “Almost Lasagna—{with “Speech Snacks” for /l/}” »

Reflections (from an SLP) on the Anniversary of September 11th

(this post was originally published on September 10, 2011–the 10th anniversary of 9/11)

Today’s post will not address any particular speech sound, language app , or a way to incorporate food into your therapy sessions. Instead I am posting some thoughts on the events surrounding the anniversary of the most tragic day in the history of our country.

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Every summer for the past few years, my friend and I take our kids to Manhattan to see something new. (This year we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Madame Tussuad’s Wax Museum). It has become a wonderful tradition—one that I look forward to every year. This August, instead of taking the train, we decided to drive to Staten Island and take the Staten Island Ferry into the city. We thought it would be a fun, new perspective for the kids to view the trip into New York.

Personally, I have never taken the ferry so it was enjoyable for me as well. We had a great panoramic view of the skyline and passed by the Statue of Liberty. However, the 20 minute ferry ride, with the city staring us in the face, was also a glaring reminder of the missing Towers. And with this year being the 10th anniversary of the event, the memories of all that surrounded that day came to the forefront of my thoughts.

We can all remember where we were on that day and what we were doing. Ten years ago,  I was working in a middle school, meeting with a few teachers that morning. I was handing out portable FM Systems to teachers whose students had IEP’s indicating the need and briefing them on how to use the devices. Several moments later, the first plane hit the first tower. News spread quickly and as I walked down the hall, I caught fragments of whispered conversations about what was happening. I remember walking into the guidance office and joining other teachers who were listening to the local radio station in disbelief as the broadcaster described what was unfolding. Then the phone calls started coming in from worried parents who wanted to pick up their children. The school tried to reassure them that they were safe, however many parents came anyway. I wasn’t a parent yet, but if I were, I may have done the same thing.

 

Ten years have passed so quickly it seems. I still can’t believe it has been that long!  Those of us with younger children are challenged to find the right way to explain to them what happened to our country that day. And we realize they are growing up in a world much different than the one we did.

I found the following links that offer some good advise for parents on how to talk to their children about 9/11:

http://news.brown.edu/features/2011/08/911kids

http://childparenting.about.com/b/2011/09/03/talking-to-your-kids-about-911.htm

http://parentingsquad.com/talking-to-kids-about-911

The following link is a downloadable curriculum for K-12 teachers on lessons and topics related to 9/11 and global safety and security:

http://sites.google.com/site/the4actioninitiative/

We still do–and always will–live in the greatest country on Earth—and I look forward to making many more visits to one of the greatest cities in the world!

God Bless the victims and brave heroes of 9/11 and

God Bless the United States of America!!

 

My first BLOG POST! A New Challenge and a New School Year: Turkey Tortilla Wraps {Today’s Speech Snacks are /t/ and /r/}

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A Brand New Challenge!

I love a challenge!   Challenges help us strive to be better, reach higher, do more with the gifts we have already been given.  I have accepted many challenges over the years–athletic, academic, professional and personal.  Challenges (especially the long-term ones) can often result in great reward.  Probably the greatest challenge I ever accepted was becoming a mother—one that I look forward to each and every day!  My job as a speech pathologist is definitely a challenge–one that helps me continue to develop and grow.  I love what I do and hope to continue to better myself professionally with each new student I meet.

So here is my latest challenge—I decided to try my hand at blogging!  Although I feel confident in my creativity and ability to convey a message in writing, my familiarity with technology is limited.  To start a blog, a little skill in this area would be helpful!  I have already been challenged by widgets, codes, plug-ins and tags—words that weren’t in my lexicon a week ago!  So here I go.  Hopefully I will find the patience  and time to figure it all out.  I have a plan and a purpose, so at least that’s a good start!  Here’s to my brand new challenge….and my first ever blog post!

A New School Year is Here—Time to Make the Lunches!

I asked my son today if he was excited to start the new school year.  His response was a half-hearted, “I guess.”  I reassured him that third grade is going to be an exciting, new adventure, and that he is going to have a great year!  I think the pep talk was more for me than for him.  It seems just as hard for many of us parents to get back in that old school routine as is it is for our children. One part of that routine, for many of us, is the ritual of making the school lunches.  It was so nice to forget about packing that daily sandwich, drink and snack during the summer months.  (Some parents opt out of the brown bag lunch and choose to let their kids buy the school lunch.  While some of the choices provided are decent, I find myself cringing at the sight of the off-grey colored chicken nuggets and mushy, overcooked broccoli pieces that are sometimes served.)

Today I want to share a different alternative to the run-of- the-mill pbj or ham and cheese.  Continue reading “My first BLOG POST! A New Challenge and a New School Year: Turkey Tortilla Wraps {Today’s Speech Snacks are /t/ and /r/}” »

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