Archive for May 2012

Smarty Ears Launches Series of Apps That Improves Children’s Speech and Language Skills

Smarty Ears Launches Series of Apps That Improves Children’s Speech and Language Skills
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DALLAS, TX  (May 4, 2012) – Award-winning educational mobile app company, Smarty Ears  has released four innovative educational apps, Fun and Functional, Categories Learning Center, Go-Together, and Learning Adventures, that were designed to effectively aid in improving children’s language and speech communication skills. In addition, the apps enable teachers, parents, and speech therapists to utilize these convenient tools to enhance their sessions and tailor each treatment for each student’s specific needs.


Designed by Speech-Language Pathologists, Nichole Hanneken Ontis and Danielle Sears, Language Adventures is a theme-based game board that incorporates standard game play settings such as dice rolling, token moving, and player selection. This exciting app helps children develop vocabulary, naming, and description in the context of a real-world setting such as the classroom, cafeteria, and playground. With its exciting interface and colorful graphics, this visually appealing app can be used by multiple players with different skill levels and target goals.

“I have personally used Language Adventures with students in 6th through 12th grade. The students are very excited to use the app and frequently ask to play it!” said co-author, Nichole Hanneken Ontis, “The app set-up makes it easy enough for students to learn while playing independently in a small group, yet allows endless opportunities for the therapist or teacher to build on the context-based questions to increase learning opportunities for increasing language skills. The data tracking within the app has allowed me to track their increased progress over sessions and has made it easier as a therapist to collect data and be involved in the app use. Having the 3 level game boards and hundreds of target words has made this app a great therapy tool that can be used over many sessions without the students getting bored with it.”

Fun and Functional and Go-Together were both authored by SLP, Rosie Simms and were created to improve language comprehension and expression in children. Fun and Functional helps children to identify and describe how real-world objects function, thus strengthening their language and life skills while Go-Together targets categories of items and helps children to identify objects with a semantic association. These customizable apps effectively measures receptive activity and can be used by individuals in all age groups.


The fourth app recently released by Smarty Ears, Categories Learning Center helps students build their memory, word retrieval, and vocabulary skills which are vital for them to effectively listen, speak, read, and write. Authored by Barbara and Mary Huston, Categories Learning Center increases receptive and expressive vocabulary through picture stimuli and aids individuals with category naming and category selections.


“Through sorting items into categories and subcategories – for example, not just animals, but also ‘animals that live on a farm,’ children can develop key word networks that help them learn and retrieve vocabulary words,” stated Sean Sweeney, Production Development Manager for Smarty Ears. “Categories are everywhere in our world, and though students with language difficulties struggle with verbal organization, this app provides an engaging way to work on these skills…”


All four apps, which are currently available in the iTunes apps store, can be used with an iPad, running on IOS 4.0 higher. Fun and Functional and Go-Together are also compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. The prices of these easy-to-use apps range from $9.99 to $19.99.


For more information about Fun and Functional, Categories Learning Center, Go-Together, Learning Adventures and other Smarty Ears products, visit or contact Smarty Ears at [email protected].




Fun & Functional in Action

Fun & Functional in Action
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By: Cindy L. Meester MS,CCC/SLP

I use this app in the receptive only setting as a way to measure a child’s ability to identify objects and their functions. The app allows me to set how many items are shown on the screen, which makes it easy to set up for the different ability levels of my students. I can even adjust how similar the items are related in this level. The student completes the task and I have the data saved and emailed to me. I love that I can modify the receptive level and adjust at the student’s skills improve.

In the expressive setting I am able to see how well my students can explain functions. I use this setting to measure their expressive language skills, grammar, fluency and even carryover for articulation skills. I am able to mark their responses in 3 different modes: Missed it, Almost and Got it! and email the results to myself. I have even had some of my students rate themselves.

In the alternating receptive-expressive setting I have the best of both options! I can see how well they “get it” receptively and move directly to how well they can “explain it” expressively. If I have a student who couldn’t identify the function on the receptive screen I may choose to skip the expressive screen by touching the next button.  Once again the data is saved and I can email the results.

Options: Here are some other ways I have used this app

  • Guess What Game- I turn the sound off on the iPad. We use the Expressive Level setting. The group decides on a category and in settings I turn off the other categories. Some groups have asked for a challenge and then we use all the categories. Each student takes the iPad and gives two clues for the picture on the screen before asking for guesses. The goal is to get the others to guess the item. If the item is guessed with only 2 clues they mark it Got it! If it takes 3-4 clues then they mark Almost and if it is not guessed it is marked as Missed it.


  • Cold, Warm, Hot– In this game we use the Receptive Level setting.  The goal is to be able to explain how the items on the screen are related. The setting option allows you to see 2, 3 or 4 items per screen. The more items shown the harder it is to explain similarities.
    • To play an easier game we choose this in settings: Receptive more similar and two items per screen.
    • To play the most challenging we choose this in settings: Receptive less similar and four items per screen.
    • Each student takes a turn and tells how the items on the screen are similar. As a group we judge if their ideas were cold, warm or hot.
      • Cold: their explanation was not related or they could not think of a similarity
      • Warm: their explanation was close but maybe a stretch
      • Hot: their explanation was right on target