ABCs 4 SLPs: A is for Apps/Articulation - Articulation Scenes Review and Giveaway

Put on your fancy shoes and head down the red carpet with Smarty Ears' newest application: Articulation Scenes! Smarty Ears has definitely put a lot of time and effort into this application and it shows through every aspect. With movie theater themed screens, activities, and buttons, this application is truly the best looking of the articulation applications currently on the market!

When Smarty Ears first started showing previews of this application, my mouth was watering. I don't know if I stated this before, but I am a huge movie buff! I used to work for a movie theater at the same time as I went to college, and I actually started a movie review blog before I started this one! So, I knew I had to have this application. I stalked the Smarty Ears page on almost a daily basis waiting for it to be released, not only because I wanted to use it with my students, but I also wanted to add it to my updated Articulation/Apraxia of Speech application list (to be released later today) as a new star! Finally, it came out in iTunes at a discounted price, and I contacted Barbara Fernandes to find out the new price, and she was generous enough to give me a promo code for this review (not at all what I was expecting, how awesome is that?)!

The application came out just in time for me to give it a try with my students before the summer. Keep reading for my review as well as to learn what my 5th grade student thought of the application! The giveaway is at the end of the post!

When you first open up the application, be ready for jaw to drop. Lights are shining on the red carpet to invite you to start the application. There is so much attention to detail as Smarty Ears is engraved into the red carpet, consonants are shown on the stars, and previews of the scenes flow up to the title in gold.

Articulation Scenes main page

Support

Pressing the support button not only allows you to request support for the application via e-mail, but includes information about the application, a video tutorial (for which you do not need to leave the application to view), more applications by Smarty Ears, and Smarty Ears' Facebook page. Make sure that if you do want to contact Smarty Ears that your e-mail is linked to the Mail application on your iPad, because an e-mail form will pop-up when you choose to contact them. The video tutorial is around 11 minutes long, and is great if you need a step-by-step visual tutorial of how to use the app. Below, I have added the preview video of the application from YouTube, also by Smarty Ears, for you to get a visual of the features.

Play

First, press the "Play" button to get to the "Players List". If you are familiar with Smarty Ears' applications, you will be familiar with how to add students/clients to the application. If not, press the "New Player" button to add a new player. Then, tap to add a real photo or use an avatar. After that, press next to the "Name" label to add the persons' name via the keyboard. The profile will then appear on the Players List. If you would like to edit a previously listed players' profile, double-tap on his or her image to edit his or her information.

Select Your Sounds

To begin play of the application, select which user you would like to play (only one person can play at a time) by pressing on that players' image. The image will then be highlighted and you can press the "Choose Scene" button to move on to the next screen. On the "Select Your Sounds" screen, you are able to choose which sound the student/client is working on to practice. You may only choose one sound at a time. Press the consonant to move on to the next screen!

Articulation Scenes Select Your Sounds image

Choose the Scene

After choosing which sound to focus on, you will be brought to the "Choose the Scene" screen. Here, you will see previews of each of the scenes, full of images of vocabulary that includes the given sound in the word. To choose the placement of the sound in the word (initial, medial, final, or in some cases, blends or vowel r sounds), you can scroll through the images to decide. Once you have chosen which scene you would like to play, press on the image. Articulation Scenes includes 75+ scenes with 1200 target words and 75 stories. In addition, each scene has 4 different activities associated with it!

Articulation Scenes Choose the Scene

Select Your Activity

Each scene comes with four activities to play depending on the level your student is working on as well as a homework document to send home!

Articulation Scenes Select Your Activity

1. Find the Hidden Items

Upon choosing "Find the Hidden Items", you will get a description of how to play the activity. In the "Find the Hidden Items" activity, the student/client is asked to find images in the scene with the targeted sound and tap on them. In addition, the words are placed at the bottom of the screen for reference so that you are able to determine if there are any words missed. When an item is found, press it and its name will be stated. Also, an animation will play when an item is found. If the player wishes to hear a word that he or she needs to search for, he or she can press the word at the bottom of the screen to hear it read aloud. This is great for students who are not reading yet. Each time an item is pressed with the target sound, the player will receive 10 points at the top of the screen. Vocabulary items do not need to be found in order. Once a player has found all of the words with his or her sound, he or she will receive a "trophy" for his or her "trophy case". This is a great motivator for students to continue to work on their sounds. To view the trophy case, you can press the "Place on Trophy Case" button. You may need to scroll through the case to find the trophy. This activity is good for auditory bombardment.

Articulation Scenes Find the Hidden Item

2. Tap and Say It

The "Tap and Say It" activity also has a description shown upon first playing. This activity asks the player to practice words found in the scene. There are no words at the bottom of the screen for reference, but once an item is found, the student is not required to find every item in the scene, he or she can press the arrow keys to scroll through the different words. Once an item is found, it will be showcased in the middle of the screen with the word above the image. The word is also stated aloud by a narrator and can be replayed by pressing the image. After the student/client states the word aloud, the speech-language pathologist can make the judgment as to how accurate the sound was produced in the word. Choices for production include "Missed it", "Almost", and "Got it". Players can also record their voice by pressing the microphone. If the player records his or her voice, he or she can play it back by pressing "Play" or correct the sound by pressing "Record New" to try again. Recordings are saved in the "Lounge". You can have the student try the words as many times as you would like, as the application keeps track of data. Each correct response is awarded with 5 points for the student, approximate responses are awarded 3 points, and incorrect responses are awarded 1 point for giving a good try.

Articulation Scenes Tap and Say It

3. The Movie Theater

Here, in "The Movie Theater", you can listen to a story about the selected scene with the included words that have the selected sound in the story. Tap the scene to begin play and the narrator will begin to read the story. To pause the story, press the image. Press the image again to hear the narration from where you left off. This is also great for auditory bombardment. Following the narration, descriptions of two activities are shown. The player is able to either replay the movie, create his or her own story, or read the script of the story. The student is able to choose the "Create Story" or "Read Script" options. Pressing either of these will bring the student to the associated activity from "The Production Room". The difference between this activity and "The Production Room"  is that if "Read Script" is chosen and completed, the recording will play with the script and image on the movie theater-style screen.

Articulation Scenes The Movie Theater

4. The Production Room

The Production Room includes two different options for activities. When chosen, a description of each will appear and buttons to choose either to "Record Your Own Story" or "Read the Script" will be available.

Articulation Scenes The Production Room

Option 1 - Record your own story

When the "Option 1" button is pressed, it will show the scene on the screen and allow the player to tap the microphone to begin recording. This is great for students working on expressive language as well as articulation. It is also great for an articulation sample in spontaneous speech. Once the player is done recording, the microphone must be pressed again. Also, there is the option to stop or pause the recording. If the player wishes to record some more, he or she can press the microphone to add on to the sample. After he or she is done recording, press "All Done" and then "Play" to hear it played back with the scene in the background.

Articulation Scenes The Production Room Option 1

Option 2 - Read the pre-created script on a teleprompter

When "Option 2" is chosen, a teleprompter will appear on the screen with the script from "The Movie Theater" activity shown on it. The player can read through script prior to recording it. To read through the entire script, one can scroll up and down using their finger on the teleprompter. When the player is ready to record the script, press the microphone to record. When the app is recording, the word "Recording" will appear in bright red above the teleprompter. There is the ability to stop the recording and then begin recording again by re-pressing the microphone button. Once recording has been completed, press "All Done". To hear the recording, press "Play". You can replay the recording again by pressing "Replay". This recording will save to the "Lounge".

Articulation Scenes Teleprompter

After completing any of these activities, if the "Exit" button is pressed, the player is brought to the "Lounge Room" where he or she can view his or her progress. The "Lounge Room" will be discussed further later in the review.

Homework Document

Upon pressing the "Homework Document" button associated with a given scene, a practice sheet will appear. The document can be practiced on the app and has images of vocabulary with the selected sound from the scene on it. To share the document or print it, press the "Share" button in the upper right hand side of the screen. A pop-up will then appear with the ability to e-mail or print the document. If you select the e-mail option, the file will be sent in PDF format via the Mail application on the iPad. Make sure your e-mail is associated with the app in order to use it.

Articulation Scenes Homework

The Lounge

"The Lounge" can be accessed from the main page or following completion of an activity. This is where data is stored for each player. To view data for a given student/client, press his or her image. Upon pressing the image, you will be given the option to view the progress report or trophy case. The "My Trophy Case" button, upon being pressed, will show all of the trophy motivators on shelves. You must scroll through to find the trophies. This case can also be shared via e-mail or printed. The "My Progress Report" button, once pressed, will show all of the activities in which the student has completed. On the left hand side of the page, it will detail the total number of practices, activity most played, and the date of first/last practice. In the middle, a list of each activity played with the date, sound, position, accuracy (if recorded), speech sample (if recorded), and score will appear. Activities are listed with the most recent at the top and the previous activities following afterwards. To view all of the activities played if they do not all appear on the screen at once, one can scroll up and down to view more. In order to listen to speech samples, slide the button with the microphone to the right to listen within the progress report. This is great for keeping data as well as showing a students' progress at a conference. To share the results via e-mail or print them, press the "Share Results" button at the top right of the screen.

Articulation Scenes The Lounge

What I Like About The Application:

  • I absolutely love the theme of the application and how each and every aspect from the backgrounds to the animations to the buttons fit the theme of the movies. This is very motivating for my students.
  • I love the fact that students at different levels of speech production for all of the different speech consonants are able to use this application. This really makes it worth the investment. There are activities for auditory bombardment, production at the word level and sentence/reading levels, expressive language, and the ability to record speech for the student to self-assess.
  • The fact that the application stores data is amazing! It not only records data for accuracy but will store speech samples. This is great for showing progress to parents at conferences, hearing the progress from the beginning of practice to the end, keeping data session to session, and for speech samples to play back.
  • There are so many different sounds, words to practice, and activities that it is absolutely worth the money. It is like a therapy kit all in one place on the iPad.

What My 5th Grade Student Liked About the Application:

  • The theme of the application
  • The ability to use the teleprompter to practice a script
  • The ability to create his own story and record/play it back

What I Would Like to See in Future Updates:

  • It would be great to use this application with multiple players; however, I am not sure how to do this better than the application already does. After playing with one student, you can go back to select a new player for each activity. Although, it would be nice if two students could press on the screen to practice sounds either in the "Find the Hidden Items" or "Tap and Say It" activities. The problem is, then you would have to also record data for more than one student at a time and this may make the application more complicated. So, this is a wish but also something that I am not sure can be done effectively or has a place in this application.
  • I would like to see the voiced and voiceless /th/ sounds have their own scenes. The button can stay the same, but like the vowel r sounds or the blends, it would be nice for them to have different scenes within the overall /th/ sound.
  • The trophy case is a bit too large to scroll through at times, so it would be nice for each trophy to display in order at the top as it is received.
  • Two picky little things that I thought of for future updates include the ability for the highlight to be darker, or an icon placed over the player when he or she is selected to play as well as changing the audio chirpy sound played when a sound is selected on the menu.

Therapy Uses:

Other than what was stated above, this application can be used with students in the following ways:

  • Expressive Language - have the student record a story based on one of the scenes and record it or have the student write a story about one of the scenes
  • Fluency/Voice - have the student record his or her speech and play it back using their best voice/most fluent speech. This can be done using the teleprompter or in spontaneous speech creating a story about a scene.
  • Receptive Language - have the student find the words that match the items in a scene; have the student describe the items in the scene

Conclusion:

Overall, this application is worth the $49.99 price due to the fact that it includes all of the consonant sounds, a scene for the sound in each position of a word (blend or vowel r as well), 4 different activities for each sound scene, a homework sheet for each sound scene, data tracking, the ability to send data/homework via e-mail or print it, and the overall look of the app. If you were to purchase concrete activities in this application separately, you would spend a significant amount more money. In addition, the fact that this is on the iPad makes it very portable. This application can be used with multiple age groups, grades, levels of articulation, placement of sounds, and more. I definitely recommend this application as a great tool to have for speech-language therapy!

Disclosure:

The author of Consonantly Speaking was given an application code by Smarty Ears to review this application as well as an app code to give away. No other form of compensation was received.

Giveaway:

Smarty Ears has given Consonantly Speaking one application code for Articulation Scenes to give away. Enter via the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Websites of Other SLPs Who Have Reviewed This Application:

Panda Speech - http://pandaspeech.blogspot.com/2012/06/articulation-scenes-review.html

Speech Room News (review and giveaway) - http://speechroomnews.blogspot.com/2012/06/articulation-scenes-app-review-giveaway.html

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