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Reading Comprehension Camp makes for “happy campers” in the speech room! {APP REVIEW and 2-Part GIVEAWAY}

PicMonkey Collage giveaweay


As SLP’s we all have our bag of tricks for making therapy fun and motivating while addressing our student’s IEP goals effectively.   Finding ways to make learning exciting and keeping it meaningful is what we do best!  While many of us use board games, wonderful TpT products, our own homemade and vendor-purchased products, and yes, sometimes even FOOD when possible and appropriate (that would be ME!) we all appreciate a few good apps to liven things up!

Reading Comprehension Camp is one more app (just released by the fantastic folks at Smarty Ears),  that I will be adding to my repertoire.  It’s sure to result in “happy campers” around the campfire therapy table! (s’mores optional!)
See the reviews from my “happy campers” at the end of the post.




The students I work with are primarily middle and high school age and I am always looking for new materials and apps that are age/grade level appropriate.  I was pleased to see that Reading Comprehension Camp addresses the needs of some of my older students—with  five reading levels ranging from L1 (2nd-3rd grade) through L5 for (6-7th grade),  Smarty Ears utilized the Flesch-Kincaid readability levels to coincide with this app.  For each of the app’s levels, there are 10 possible stories to choose from.











This app is extremely easy to navigate, however there is a short video tutorial included if you need to make reference.

First, you will need to select players by entering their names and a photo, avatar or no picture.  Up to 4 players at once can join in.



Next, choose the story level.  Level 1 stories consist of a small paragraph. The higher the level, the more complex and lengthy the paragraph will become.


Additionally,  you can customize the visuals in each story—choose from small/large images and/or font sizes for story presentation.  You can also chose to have the story read aloud to you or the therapist/student can read it aloud.  Another plus—-the students can record themselves reading the story!  This allow students to practice their reading fluency skills and provides auditory feedback so that the student and teacher can immediately listen and analyze.


After the decoding portion is complete, it’s quiz time!  The therapist/teacher can choose to address “WH” questions,  inferencing, cause/effect, sequencing, vocabulary or all areas at once.  Customize the questions according to the goals you are addressing with your students.   Up to 11 questions per story are possible.


You can also customize the answer choices: 1-how many choices you want to present, 2-determine the stimuli for wrong responses (eliminate the choice, show it crossed out, use a buzzing sound), 3-display the hint button, 4-use the speak function and 5- story art (display/ no display) .



I’m a fan of the hint button, which highlights important information related to the question being asked.   Highlighting is a great strategy to teach students to utilize for zeroing in on key details within a paragraph. 


Above is a visual of the “cross-out” feature—a good strategy to teach students when reading any passage that has multiple choice responses!



Quiz features offer options to show only the visual…….


….only the text………


…or neither picture visual  nor text.   Without these references, the difficulty level increases, depending on the students strengths and weaknesses.


When the quiz is complete, you can visit the “student lounge.”  Here you can select a player and be sent to a screen which has collected all the data related to performance on the questions. A breakdown (percentage score)  is provided by question type.  Results can be share by printing, emailing or importing to the  Therapy Report Center.  Familiar with this app?  Well you need to check this out if you have lots of Smarty Ears apps and want a place to store all your student’s data/results  in one place!!


“Create Own Story” button:

For me, the “piece de resistance” is the feature that allows you to record your OWN storyit’s an app within an app (in my opinion!)  Check out the “create your own story” button located at the bottom of the screen.


Next upload your own photo and build your story around it.  This can be a photo from one of the stories on the app,  a photo that you (the therapist) choose, or perhaps a photo chosen by the student, which means that either of you can be in charge of creating the storyline—–AND the questions to accompany it.   This feature turns the app into a tool which allows students to work on expressive language, thought organization, sequencing and writing skills.


I haven’t used the “”create own story”  option with my students yet, but I look forward to it!  I plan to have the students write their own story based on a picture of their choosing.  In return, I will create questions that will probe further into their writing—to address inferencing, reasoning and problem solving, etc.  Since so many of my students are concrete thinkers or fail to use details in their writing, this will be an effective way to get them to further develop their expressive language and writing skills.

Overall, I think this app has a lot to offer and is well worth the cost!   Reading Comprehension Camp is available in the iTunes store for $19.99.










“Happy Camper”  Reviews:  (quotes from my students)

“It was helpful to have it highlight the part of the story that had the answer.”

“The story was easy to read, but some of the questions were hard for me. I guess I need to work on this.”

“It’s easier to read when the letters are in big print.”

“That girl in Movie Drama was so rude!”

“I can’t believe how clueless the dad was (in Wise Beyond His Years) His kid should be embarrassed!”

“Cool, Mrs. Kesting! Where’s the marshmallows and cocoa!”

“Why are the avatar dudes so weird–I want the one with the square purple hair.”

“Can we play this again tomorrow?”

And now the Spring Break giveaway!  (sorry–if you were expecting an all-expense paid trip to Cabo San Lucas this is not the giveaway for you!)  

However, you will receive some fun stuff to bring back to the therapy room after your Spring Break is over!

Not only will you get a copy of this awesome app, but the winner will also receive a copy of one of my newest TpT item—Magic Squares—great for introducing new vocabulary (Spring-time themed!)  —created with your middle/high school students in mind!      

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Speech Buddies to the Rescue! {Product Review and GIVEAWAY!!}

PicMonkey Collage sp buddies


And the winner is….

With over 2100 entries, the winner of the Speech Buddies giveaway, via Rafflecopter’s random selection, is Natalie B. from Houston, Texas!!!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway!  Natalie has been an SLP since 2008 and  currently works in the public schools with elementary and middle school students, ages 3-15 years. Her caseload consists of a mix of language and articulation students.   Natalie also happens to be the author of the blog and face book page, Just Wright Speech, which she started in January 2013. If you want to visit her blog and say “congrats” you can visit her at :

So many of your stories tugged at my heart strings as you expressed how and why you could use Speech Buddies.  Many of you were parents and even more of you were speech-language pathologists.   Some of you said school budgets (or your own wallets) wouldn’t permit the purchase of these tools and others were just plain frustrated with slow progress, no progress or in search of another method of addressing speech sound placement.  Believe me, if I could, I would send a set of Speech Buddies to each and every one of you.  I thank you all for participating in this great giveaway!  I will be planning other giveaways and freebies in the future so please keep checking your face book page for updates!  Until next time, “Speak Well and Eat Well!”



A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review Speech Buddies while working with one of my private therapy clients.  Today, thanks to the generosity of Articulate Technologies Inc., I have the pleasure to share with you a chance to receive your very own FULL SET of Speech Buddies tools (valued at $299!!)  Please be sure to follow the link to the review I  wrote (including a video demonstration from one of my therapy sessions.)

After reading the review, I hope you too will find this product to be a valuable addition to your bag of therapy tricks!

You can enter the rafflecopter  giveaway from Tuesday, March 12th through Tuesday, March 19th.

One winner will be notified and announced on my facebook page, website and via email.

Entrants must live in the United States—this includes Hawaii, Alaska, APO/AE, and Territories—- and be willing to share their mailing address.

I found it fitting to run this giveaway around St. Patty’s Day in hopes of giving everyone the “Luck of the Irish” —–GOOD LUCK!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Multiple Choice Articulation {App Review and a TWO-PART GIVEAWAY!}

What would you rather drink—SNOWMAN SOUP or Stone Soup?   What idea sounds more interesting—eating COWBOY CAVIAR while riding a horse or meeting a real cowboy in a rodeo ring?

If you think these crazy questions sound fun and entertaining, then you are going to want to check out an app that asks hundreds of these silly and creative questions while addressing several speech sounds!!   Multiple Choice Articulation is an app that’s going to have your speech students talking, laughing and getting grossed out all at the same time!!  I can’t say that I know too many apps out there that can do all that!   This app was created by speech-language pathologist, and app developer Erik X. Raj and is currently selling for $9.99 in the itunes store.  ..and believe me, it’s well worth the price tag—let’s check out why!!

multi choice 3

Multiple Choice Articulation asks students silly and often far-fetched questions.  They are required to make a choice between two possibilities.  Students must select one of the choices  given and then support the reason they made their decision.   Specific target sounds are embedded within the choices, which automatically sets the student up to respond using the sound they are working to correct.  Sounds addressed in this app include /s/, /z/, /r/, /l/, /sh/, /ch/ and /th/.


mult choice 2









Questions are asked for each sounds in the initial, medial, final positions and (when applicable) blends.    Navigation is straightforward and simple.  The home screen displays a button for each individual sound.  Tap on the sound and the next screen gives options for practice in each position/blends.  Tap the “home”  button at any time to return to the main screen.


mult choice artic

Each question/choice highlights the targeted sound in bold and follows up with the question “Why?”  You can tap the “hear the question” button to have it read to you (this option provides a well paced, clearly articulated model—and I believe it is also the actual voice of the app creator!)  Also included is a “hear the answer”  button.  I love this feature!   It provides a response to the question and may help the shy or unmotivated student or a child who has difficulty generating responses without assistance by giving a sample response.  At the top of the screen, an arrow for “back” and “next” allows the therapist to revisit a particular questions or move forward and skip questions that may be too challenging, inappropriate for a particular age/grade level, etc.

This app not only targets articulation but also addresses so many other language goals.  By providing choices, it asks students to use higher level critical thinking skills for reasoning and problem solving.  It also requires students to expand the length and complexity of their utterances.

As a therapist who works with a caseload consisting primarily of boys in the  10-18 year old age range, I can confidently say that this app has hit a home run!!  So many of my students are working on improving their higher level language abilities and need support for elaborating on their thoughts/ improving sentence structure.  This app is PERFECT for them—and they find so many of the gross, crazy, strange questions extremely entertaining!

(I was generously provided with a free copy of this app. The opinions in this review are mine and mine alone.)


So if you like what you’ve seen, then you are definitely going to want to enter my Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of the code for Multiple Choice Articulation— AND in addition to this amazing app, I’m giving away one FREE copy of my SNOWMAN SOUP activity–now featured on my newly opened TeachersPayTeachers store!!  This activity is selling for $2.25 and focuses on oxymorons.  Remember those?  Oxymorons are a figure of speech that contains two contradicting terms—like “jumbo shrimp” and “dull knife.”   This 22 page download includes two pages of oxymoron  terms, 4 pages of matching oxymoron cards,  3 pages of fill in the blank sentences  and  answer key,  1 “Draw It” page, 1 page of mugs ,  2 pages of candy pieces , 1 page of snowman/snowflake cards ,  1 snowman soup poem  page, 1 collectible  “SpeechSnacks” recipe card page.   You can also check out the entire post and recipe here!

It doesn’t get any better than that!  An awesome app and a great language game all in one giveaway!   Contest ends Friday,  January 11th at midnight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway








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.


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/}


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 many 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! Continue reading ““Easy-Peezy” (Kid Friendly) Apple Pie {with “Speech Snacks” for /l/}” »

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