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Best Practices for Toontastic in Speech Therapy!

Andy Russell / 06.14.2012 /  2

We’re very excited today to share the work of Andrea Flynn of Speech N’ Teach Apps, a speech therapist seeing fantastic results from using Toontastic in her clinic. Andrea wrote to us recently to spread the good news and we asked her if she’d be interested in sharing her “best practices” for imaginative play and storytelling in Speech Therapy. You’re in for a treat!

From the moment you open Toontastic on the iPad, all the kids want to be in control! With its kid-friendly appearance and catchy background music, it’s not hard to understand why. When I tell my client(s) we are going to be making a cartoon, their eyes light up and you can already see them starting to envision the process. We begin on the white board writing out our story as a guide/outline. Each person is responsible for picking their own character, and together they must plan a storyline and pick out the different scenes. Out loud we discuss moods, themes, and how our characters are going to act and feel. From a speech standpoint, this lets us focus on teaching feelings, working on pragmatics in a group, intonation, and target WH questions – to name a few. From the child’s perspective they get to be innovative, artistic, and unique in both their ideas and the creation of their cartoon. Most of the time, they forget they’re even at speech actually working on speech and language goals. This is what I truly love seeing. Having the ability to engage a child and be able to teach them these crucial skills, all while concealing it as “play.” This is the power of the app world, and now it’s the power of Toontastic!

In the video, you will see my client and I reviewing the storyboard that we worked on in a previous session and discussing our cartoon “Earth People vs. Aliens.” Below is a brief description of what goals we targeted during our session and work with Toontastic. The goals are as follows:

1. Intonation- We discussed how our characters were going to speak. This was dependent on the mood of our scene. For example lets compare the scenes Challenge vs. Resolution. In our Challenge scene we felt scared- so the tone of our voice was intense and uneasy. When we look at the Resolution scene, we felt ecstatic- so the tone in our voice was more relaxed, calm, and happy. Different emotions and feelings change the way in which we say sentences, words, questions, and phrases!

2. Developing Complex Sentences- We both had to write what our character(s) were going to say and it had to flow with what was happening in the scene.

3. Linking Ideas- This is where my client (and most kids) had some difficulty. Kids have great imaginations and can tend to jump around from idea to idea. We had to practice linking ideas appropriately. For example, if the Set Up is where you introduce characters, it is not an appropriate time for the characters to start a problem. A way to solve this is by explaining what the characters have to do in the current scene and then HOW it will link to the next scene. This is where sequencing terms “first, next, last” come in handy. You can say, “First our characters have to meet because we are in the Set Up. Next, in the Conflict we can think out loud about our problem.” In other words, what happens in one scene has to be able to “link” to the next scene, making the story flow.

4. Flexibility- Kids often have a hard time taking turns or learning to accept others responses or actions. This is a great activity for working on flexibility and learning to accept your partner’s choices. My client did a great job at this skill. 5. Retelling the story- At the end of the video you see my client retelling the story. This is an important skill as it works on retrieving information, processing, and being able to sequentially restate the story while providing some details. In other words, you should be able to state the main idea (what the story is about) and give 3-4 supporting details! Overall, this is a fantastic app and I always look forward to using it with my clients and seeing what type of story they will create.

Educational aspects:

  1. Storytelling and/or retelling story
  2. WH questions (who, what, where, when, why, and how)
  3. Developing complex sentences
  4. Linking ideas
  5. Improving syntax
  6. Following directions
  7. Pragmatics
  8. Increasing use of pronouns/verbs
  9. Comprehending spatial terms
  10. Intonation
  11. Teaches flexibility and turn taking… to name a few

Andrea Flynn B.A., SLPA

Speech N’ Teach Apps



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