Fun & Functional is an application developed by author and Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Rosie Simms to improve language comprehension and expression in individuals of all age groups. The ability to identify and describe the function or use of real-world objects is a key language and life skill. Fun & Functional provides SLPs, parents and others with a tool to develop categorization and descriptive skills by interacting with pictures and audio.
Fun & Functional is based on research around vocabulary and word meaning development in students. Improving vocabulary, describing ability and associations between words assists students in language comprehension and reading skills (Bromley, 2007). In particular, students have more difficulty acquiring verb-based vocabulary (Loeb, Pye, Redmond & Richardson, 1996), a skill that is targeted by Fun & Functional. The application allows for a focus on identifying and describing words within essential categories such as vehicles and household items, consistent with research indicating that categorization improves word storage and retrieval (Miller & Eilam, 2008). The application is designed to provide visual supports shown to be helpful for students with autism spectrum disorder and also targets suggested goals for this population such as expansion of word knowledge and action words (ASHA, 2006). Fun & Functional is also applicable to the instructional goals of children with language learning disorders, whose difficulties with vocabulary acquisition and descriptive language put them at risk for difficulties with reading and writing (Chanly, 1994; Gray, 2003, 2006; Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986).
Fun & Functional can be used to:
-Help children identify items that have a particular use or function.
-Develop understanding and auditory comprehension of Wh-Questions and verb forms.
-Target categories of items such as clothing, school items, and occupations.
-Elicit and score students’ verbal descriptions of items.
-Measure treatment effectiveness and skill growth over time through reported data.
Fun & Functional has the following Features:
-Receptive Activity in which students identify items that perform a certain use or function (presented visually and with audio).
-Ability to customize Receptive Activity according to number of choices presented (2, 3, or 4) to modify level of difficulty. Receptive Activity can also be customized according to level of similarity within “incorrect” items.
-Choice of application responses when child selects incorrect item (move to next question, incorrect item disappears from screen, or “Try Again!” message)
-Selection of specific or all categories to target.
-Expressive Activity in which students verbally describe the function of items (e.g. “What do you do with a broom?), so that SLPs, parents or others can score their response as “Missed it!” “Almost” or “Got it!” within the application.
-Quick Play and Receptive-Expressive combination activities.
-Report presented at conclusion of activity; can be emailed to parent or for record-keeping.