The following tips and tricks come from our power users, an army of speech therapists who use Speech Blubs on a daily basis. We collected their best answers and turned them into this blog post!
Thank you all for participating in our study. It’s one thing to design an app in the comfort of our offices, but these wonderful people are on the front line, working with kids day in and day out.
So, without further ado, here’s their advice:
Let the child be in charge
I allow the children to choose which animal they want to see, which keeps them engaged.
I have noticed that I get better engagement when I let my kids pick the sound or picture they want to work on.
Allow children to choose which activity they want to tap and then let them hit the button to go to the fun filter. I’ve found it makes them feel more invested and not like they are working or doing therapy.
Model along. Your presence and enthusiasm act as additional motivation.
Sit in front of the camera with the kid to get the best results. I just try to use the app for getting their attention and having them imitate the children models.
I do it along with them, so they have a partner and are not discouraged from participating. I model how to imitate the sounds along with the child.
I think children should always use the app together with an adult.
Adult modeling is extremely important. Model it yourself first.
Limit session length!
Limit time when using it so it’ll be more enticing to students every time they use it.
I use it one-on-one for 15-20 minutes at a time, or until my student starts trying to push too many buttons on the tablet.
It works better for short periods, I switch between the different sections frequently.
I typically have my students do 2 things on the app. I’d recommend short sessions, this seems to be helping them try difficult things, and I definitely see improvements.
Practice daily, even if not for very long
The daily reminder is the BEST. Using it every day helps children remember more quickly.
Repetition is extremely important! I recommend it as a quick daily practice to reinforce sounds.
Five minutes of practice twice a day with his mother is significantly helping with progress.
It’s a great app because children are more motivated for repetition.
Use it in small groups
I’ve had a lot of success using it in small groups so the kids can challenge each other.
If you use this app with two or more kids at a time, they challenge each other, role-play, invent stories, giggles and learning potential amplifies.
Take lots of pictures
I try to model it for my student and take a picture of me, then give them a turn. When they show good effort, we send the picture to their parents.
I have recommended the app to all my colleagues and give them the tip that if the kid first completes the exercise, they are allowed to take a picture for their parents.
They all want that picture. 🙂
Use it as an addition to one-on-one time
I encourage parents to use it regularly at home, as an addition, but don’t let it replace one-on-one practice time with your child.
Do not let the app BE the activity. If I’m playing with animals and a barn set, I will use the animal noises as additional input.
Combine the app with other tasks, like books and an illustrated vocabulary.
We screenshot some of the pictures and use them to create sentences, e.g. “car”, and the screenshot is the kid “driving a car”, so I ask “What’s xx doing?”
I pair it with real toy animals and we identify the animal name and then go into the app to copy their sounds.
You can use it for games like playing a simple memory game.
I typically won’t turn the camera on until I’ve gotten enough production from my student so the app acts as a reinforcement.
Use it as a reinforcer
Every student so far has loved this app. Even if they are not really interested in speaking that day, I use this app and they get very excited.
We offer it often as an activity in our kindergarten classroom and keep it fun to start. We want the students to enjoy their work without realizing that they are working hard!
Sometimes I hit pause as an incentive to get a kiddo to repeat the “blub”.
It’s great even for using as a reinforcer for older kids.
I can use it for any kiddo in my caseload as a motivator at the end of our sessions since they enjoy seeing their faces on the screen so much.
I use it as a reward at the end of a session. I do not use a ton of technology.
I use it as motivation and a way to practice speech movements with my articulation clients.
Other tips and tricks
Love the Mouth Gym section for warming up.
The kids love seeing themselves with a chicken on their head or kitty ears! We use that section to practice describing and using spatial concepts.
I challenge the kids to have a conversation based on their character in the app.
I also use it to elicit any sound vocalizations when they’re not quite ready for more structured drill work.
I continue the activity from Speech Blubs and break it into smaller bits to help teach it explicitly. I slow it down to make it easier for the children to follow.
I have encouraged even just forming the correct mouth movements, then adding the sounds later, as one of my students was getting frustrated trying to do both at the same time.
I use it for kids who don’t like to look at the speaker’s face and they are way too interested in “screen-time”…this at least helps them start talking and then we can work on social aspects later.
Be sure to hold the device at an appropriate distance so that the camera catches the child’s face. In some cases it’s best you hold the ipad or iphone rather than the student. Or use a tablet/surface with a stand.
I make sure I’m on the screen too and bring a lot of attention to my mouth shape by exaggerating and pointing to it.
Some of my autistic friends, or maybe even just the really shy ones don’t like looking at themselves or don’t like the graphics added to their picture. Usually they get used to it, but, if not, I just keep it on the model.
To sum it up
The consensus is that our app works wonderfully with kids who have just started to babble. It improves their attention, imitation skills, articulation, comprehension, and vocabulary. Numerous positive effects have been reported for kids with autism, speech delay, apraxia, Down syndrome, even with completely nonverbal kids.
Speech Blubs app is designed to be a bit unconventional, and as such is different than any other speech therapy tool or resource out there. Thousands of parents and therapists have already gotten some great results from it, and more are finding us every day.