As I mentioned in my post on screen time, I have been using apps more and more in therapy with clients of all ages. One app that I have been using with my little ones is Speech Blubs. This is an app aimed at toddlers speech and language development and is evolved quite substantially from when it was first released.
Based on video-modelling principles (a touchy subject when it comes to evidence based research and I encourage you to do some reading up on this topic) it started out with videos of children making animal sounds and the idea was to encourage imitation of those animal sounds. My own neurotypical child picked up his bear growl from the app when he was under a year old and it was very cute! This version was called First Blubs and is unfortunately no longer available. The update is now Speech Blubs and that’s where I will focus my review. Please note that this app was not given to me to test out and this review is purely my own opinion. In no way am I encouraging the use or purchase of this app but the intention is to make you (as therapists and parents) aware of another tool in your toolbox to encourage the language development of your little ones. The developers of the app have been very generous and are giving away 8 promo codes that will unlock use of the app for one month! keep reading to grab one…
Since the upgrade the following sections are available on the app:
Early sounds: basically the first blubs section of the app. The one gripe I have about this section is the animal noises themselves. Since animal sounds vary between cultures this section can be a bit of a minefield and I would suggest making yourself familiar with the sounds on the app and pre-choosing which ones you will work on.
Sing Along: There are a few nursery rhymes sung by kids. I feel that this section is nice as a reward between targets. So for example in one session with a particularly busy little person I used the sing along section to get her to follow her 2 step instructions and her reward was to listen to a song. This worked quite well as the songs are quite short in length. Again not all the words to each song is what I would sing and not all videos are that clear.
Guess what: I have been enjoying this section quite a bit more. You hit a blank block and up pops a video of a child saying the name of an animal a few times with different intonations. Then three pictures pop up and your little person has to pick the picture that matched what the child was saying. A nice one for listening and receptive language abilities.
Animal Kingdom: Like the ‘Guess What’ section the child in the video models a name of an animal three times but instead of pictures you get the word. This is nice for children who are beginning readers or who have particularly good visual processing and can start identifying words. I would recommend also having the word printed out so the child has a word to hold (and possibly post into something- my go-to activity)
Grab Your wheel: I haven’t had the opportunity to play with this one yet but I like it. The theme is transport and I like the little symbols that go along with it. As with the suggestion for Animal Kingdom have a typed up physical representation of the word or have a toy version that the child needs to look for somewhere in your room. Play with each word before moving on to the next and connect these videos to some real play experience. It will make it more real and hopefully create a better reference for your child when they hear that word again.
When I grow up: Like the previous two sections but the theme is… you guessed it… jobs. I would again find a way to use this with older communicators and create an additional activity to use to form stronger connections to the words.
Know your body: Again, a vocabulary based exercise around body parts. What I think could be useful here is using this section to talk about speech helpers with older children. Usually an activity like this would be used with children who stutter and need to learn how to control their ‘speech helpers’. A great speech helpers resource can be found here. I think some older boys would enjoy the ‘grossness’ of this exercise too (one of the words is “skull”). This section needs a few more words but it looks like they are working on that.
Yummy Time: It’s about food. Can’t give you more suggestions than I already have in the previous sections, except maybe have some food around for this one.
First Words: Like the above sections but some more common objects and everyday things and some not-so-everyday things. Again, I would screen this section before jumping into an activity with it.
Mouth Gym: Oral Motor what now?? Um… you decide. I haven’t used this and not sure I will but there may be something to be done. If you find it please update me…
So overall I do use this and I do like it for various reasons. As I mentioned in my post on Screen Time please be mindful of your purpose in using an app either at home with your kids or in therapy with a patient. It’s no good if there isn’t interaction and real life situations to link it to. I would also be weary of recommending this to parents as it may not always get used for the purpose you would like. It is a paid app and I would really research it a bit more for yourself before purchasing.
So in summary:
- it encourages imitation
- it can be used in conjunction with other activities to promote vocabulary
- it has a fun camera feature that lets the child see themselves with a filter related to the target word
- its a paid/subscription based app
- it’s not always culturally appropriate to our context
- you need to be hooked up to an internet connection when using it
You can find more info on them here
For one of those Promo Codes (that will unlock use of the app for one month) leave a comment on this post on my facebook page and don’t forget to press the little blue thumbs up (i.e.like the page). If you are a therapist and would like one for a little client too please mention that in your comment.