About the App
Categories Learning Center is a multi-level, multi-player application designed by Speech-Language Pathologists to improve language comprehension for individuals of all ages. Categories Learning Center is based on research surrounding language development and language processing in children; however, categorization skills may prove useful for individuals of all ages with word finding, memory, and reading comprehension difficulties.
The ability to identify and categorize an object by associating common features is important for building the semantic networks needed for reading comprehension. Studies have indicated individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) may benefit from specific instruction in categorization1. Poor categorization skills can influence word finding, comprehension, and language processing2,3,4. Children with
language disorders often have difficulty explaining a relationship between items, forming word associations, and building the semantic networks needed for speaking and writing3,4. Categories Learning Center was created specifically to help build those semantic networks to increase word finding, comprehension, and processing.
Designed to target receptive & expressive categorization skills
Categories Learning Center addresses both receptive and expressive categorization skills and includes five (5) different activities.
o Level 1 – sorting dissimilar objects
o Level 2 – sorting similar objects
o Where does it go – placing an object in the correct category (of 3)
o Category Naming – providing the correct category name for a group of objects without prompts
o Category Selection – identifying which category name (of 4) a group of objects belongs
In addition, the adult can informally provide opportunities for naming additional items within a category
Play solo or use the app with up to four players at a time
CLC can be used by one child or multiple students. CLC is designed to work with up to four students in a single session. Select the student profiles and the target level. The avatar for the active player shows in the upper right corner, right next to the “done” button. The score for each student is individually kept and available in the student’s report card.
We have designed the app in a way that allows adults to customize the app to meet the needs to the specific lesson or a student.
The Settings button on the student page allows the individual to change sorting difficulty from two to three categories for levels 1 and 2.
The settings button also allows the customization of the categorization targets. Customizing the category target allows the individual to maximize therapy time.
With this feature, the individual can increase or decrease the complexity of the targets specifically for the session.
Built-in progress monitoring tools
Data is tracked on an individual basis. Each session, data is compiled and provides the date, Task level, the categories that were worked on, and an overall accuracy. When “shared” data can be printed, emailed, or exported to the Therapy Report Center a free Smarty Ears app.
Pre-recorded high quality audio included
As students are learning to categorize each item, they can also hear an audio for each one of the images used on Categories Learning Center. Tapping on the picture in each activity will provide the audio label for that item.
Hundreds of items included
CLC includes a large variety of high quality images. A total of over 500 images to be classified by the student! Lots of content means lots of opportunities for practice!
Learn nearly 50 categories
Category Learning Center includes nearly 45 category tittles. Students will practice learning the categories and classify items that belong to each one of these categories. Some of the categories included on the app are listed below:
To Use The App
Adding a student
Creating players in Categories Learning Center is fast and easy. Simply select “new session,” then the “plus sign.” A popup window will display. In the pop-up window type the client’s name and tap on the image of a picture to add a photo (from your photo library) or an avatar from nearly 100 built-in fun character illustrations. If no picture is desired, the default generic picture will remain. Press “OK” to save the player.
Alternatively, if you are using the free app “Therapy Report Center” (aka TRC), import players by selecting the “import from TRC” button in the lower left-hand corner. TRC is a great time saving tool as if you enter the players in that app you are able to export them to almost all Smarty Ears apps.
Deleting or Editing a player
Occasionally it may be necessary to delete a player completely or edit a player’s name or avatar. This can be done easily by simply double tapping the player’s picture. If you want to delete a player, simply press the “delete” in the bottom right corner of the popup menu. To edit the student, tap the photo area to select a new photo, or tap in the name
area to change the name. When you are finished, tap “okay” to save the changes.
area to change the name. When you are finished, tap “okay” to save the changes.
The quick play option allows the session to begin immediately. No individual data is stored within the app.
Starting a game
After creating at least one player profile, select a player for starting a game by tapping on the player’s picture. The picture will have a purple “shadow” around it to indicate each player that was selected. Since this game has multiplayer capabilities, you may select anywhere from 1 to 4 students. After select the players press “play” in the bottom right corner.
Alternatively, tapping the “Quick Play” option from the main menu, then selecting the desired activity and pressing “play” will begin the game.
Once Play is pressed, the user will select the levels being targeted. Levels Sorting 1, Sorting 2, and Where Does it Go? are receptive while levels Category Naming and Category Selection are expressive.
Once the level is selected press play and the activity will start.
Playing Levels 1 and 2
In levels 1 and 2, the app shows a line of items on the bottom of the screen and either two or three containers. The individual must drag the item to the appropriate container. Tapping the item at the bottom of the screen will provide an audio clip with the item label. Once identified, the individual must determine the category in which the item should be placed. The number of containers is selected in the “settings” area. See images below.
Level 1 – Two categories: animals and insects
Level 1 – Three categories: toys, clothes, and food
Level 2 – Three categories: zoo animals, pets, and amphibians
Playing Where Does it Go?
Where Does it Go? is a receptive task. In this activity, the individual is given three categories and a single item. The individual must decide which of the three categories is the best answer for the single item. Level 3 is a more complex categorization task as there are no additional pictures to use as references.
Playing the Expressive Levels
Category Naming and Category Selection are both expressive tasks.
In these tasks, the individual is given four items the go together and asked to name the category in which they belong.
In this task, the individual has the ability to be “almost” correct (e.g., providing a broad general category such as household items instead of a narrow category such as bathroom items). A tap on the blank line in the sentence will fill-in the correct answer. A tap on the individual picture will provide an audio clip label. Scoring is determined by tapping the Correct, Almost Correct, or Missed buttons.
In this task, the individual must choose which of the four provided categories is the best category for all four pictures. The individual must tap the correct category button at the bottom of the screen. A tap on the wrong button will remove that answer choice. A tap on the blank line in the sentence will provide the correct answer.
Hint: To increase the complexity of both expressive tasks, once the individual has determined the best category for all four pictures, ask them to provide two more items that fit into that same category.
Each correct placement fills in an image of the Smarty Ears mascot. There are 10 mascot images which provide an easy percentage correct at a glance.
After the first 10 mascots are filled in, the mascot turns gold with each correct answer.
After every 10 correct answers, the reward screen pops up.
An incorrect answer will result in a “try again” screen.
To access the results select the “report cards” on the bottom right corner of the main menu. Tapping on the picture of a player brings up the report card for that individual.
The results can be “shared” by email, printing, or exporting to The Therapy Report Center.
“This is a perfect app for developmentally delayed students as it addresses many of their needs in one app. We are able to track their progress and move up a level when they are ready.”
“It helps kids to think past general categories. For example, one category is not just, “animals”, but “reptiles”, and another category is not just, “household items”, but “bathroom items…I enjoy the age appropriate kid voices on the recordings.”
“The pictures are not confusing or stick-figure-ish. While they are not real images, the illustrations are still easy to identify…You can select a combination of activities such as sorting and category naming during the same session, or only select one type of activity, your choice.” Retrieved from
“Excellent App for working on not only categorization skills, but both expressive and receptive language skills. There is so much you can do with this app. I have also used it with a few of my adult clients who have aphasia.” ASW73
“I love the different levels in this program. Great to be able to have students sort dissimilar items and also do the higher level task of similar items. This app is very customizable.” BH764
“Good to use in the classroom as it keeps track of IEP goals. It is very customizable and has various levels of difficulty. This app objective is to sort items that are similar and those items that are not similar. Not too many other category apps out there!” teach.me
“I am an SLP who works with students with significant language delays. This works well because I can work on both receptive and expressive vocabulary. They work hard but have fun too!” sharlaurie
1. Constantinidou, F. & Kreimer, L. (2004). Feature description and categorization of common objects after traumatic brain injury: The effects of a multi-trial paradigm. Brain and Language, 89(1), 216-225.
2. Partyka, C. M. & Kresheck, J. D. (1983). A comparison of categorization skills of normal and language delayed children in early elementary schools. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 14, 243-251.
3. Richard, G. J. & Hanner, M. A.(2005) The Language Processing Test 3. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, Inc.
4. Semel, E., Wiig, E. H., & Secord, W. A. (2003). Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals, fourth edition (CELF-4). Toronto, Canada: The Psychological Corporation/A Harcourt Assessment Company.