30 Pieces of Advice for New SLPs


I recently asked for advice for new SLPs on my Facebook page and the response I got was AMAZING. The feelings I have after starting this new job have been crazy. I love it, but it can definitely feel overwhelming at times! I still sometimes feel bad for the clients who get assigned to me instead of the more tenured therapists!!

So if you’re a new SLP and anything like me, check out the amazing tidbits of advice from other wonderful SLPs below:

1) Don’t spend lots of money at the retail stores. I accumulated a lot of products my first year from yard sales and thrift stores. Also, wait until you know your caseload before purchasing products as well.

2) Do your best to leave work AT work. Sure, there will be a few times you need to bring stuff home, but don’t make a habit of it. Figure out what you NEED to do for your job and students, and don’t burn yourself out on things that don’t really matter all that much.

3) It’s ok to have a complete meltdown at least once the first week!!

4) When I started out in 1984 (yes, 1984!), my colleagues were choosing to work either in the school setting, or in the medical setting—but not both. I remember thinking that I didn’t really want to give up one or the other of those choices. So, I did not give up either one and have practiced in schools, acute facilities and SNFs continuously for thirty years. Yes, it was a little crazy at times, but I encourage ALL newbies to attain and keep up their skills in both areas. Yes, I know a great deal about learning disabilities, IEPs, assessment in the schools, along with bedside swallow evals, modified barium swallow studies, Parkinson’s, CVAs, etc. I’m proud to say I’m both an educational and a medical SLP and YES I would absolutely do it this way all over again!

5) One, don’t feel like you need to have absolutely every material you want on hand when you start. Start with the basics and be content to add a little at a time as you see is necessary for your student population and as you have money and time (two commodities you didn’t have much of during grad school!). Two, choose one thing each year to become better at. For example, for your first year, you might want to focus on IEPs and paperwork, for your second year, incorporating classroom curriculum into your therapy, for your third, homework and better parent communication, etc. Don’t feel like you have to master everything in one year! Third, use your creativity and passion for our field to connect with your students and staff, while still maintaining time for yourself to relax, have fun, and detach from the job.  HAVE FUN!!! You have so much freedom now that you’re out of grad school, so take advantage of it!

6) Don’t be afraid to say no. If you have to much on your plate ask for help. Always stand up for yourself.

7) Don’t be afraid to ask questions!! No one expects you to know everything! You’ll learn by asking and getting advice from those with more experience.

8) Act confident…even when you’re not!

9) ALWAYS take your lunch break. I skipped mine and worked through about 3 months before I started to feel burnt out. Don’t do it to yourself! The work will get done, I promise  and make friends with the teachers! You see your kids once or twice a week. They have them everyday.

10) Build a support network and nurture it.

11) Don’t forget to have fun!

12) NEVER be afraid to try new things. I am in my 30th year and still am learning and changing. CHANGE is good, so they say!

13) PR is a huge part of your job!! Parents, teachers, admins, etc. Make your parents feel that you are working WITH them. Even though you are the expert in the field, be humble. Give your best. You will do well!

14) Be open minded about job setting. Accept PRN jobs if you can to keep your skills fresh. I thought I only wanted to work with adults as a CF. I worked in a nursing home for the first two years and slowly started doing PRN early intervention and realized that I loved working with children and adults. 13 years later, I work mostly with children. I have encouraged all my students and CFs to explore PRN opportunities in fields they think they may not want to work in just so if they need to change they have the experience.

15) If going to work in a school system, be flexible, and respect the teachers, get to know them, eat lunch with them, ask their advice about the kids—they spend more time with the kids than we do, granted in a different way. Also, get to know your school secretaries and custodians–they really run the school. And remember, we are hired in schools to be ‘support staff’, not the ‘Queen’. In your very own Speech room, should you be lucky enough to have one, you can be Queen, but only in there.

16)  1) Therapy sessions go awry sometimes and it’s not the end of the world. There will be amazing sessions and some that go WHOMP WHOMP. If you’re working with kids, only YOU know it bombed- they don’t- so no worries! 2) The paperwork and pressure WILL make you cry occasionally. Hide behind a file cabinet or find a clean bathroom and let it all out. The beautiful moments when you know you changed the course of someone’s life will make up for it. Savor those.

17) If you’re working with preschoolers, always have an extra shirt on hand!

18) Be a team player. Although you are the expert about speech and language skills, there are many other professionals and parents who see the child in different settings. I always tell young SLPs to listen to the parents because sometimes they see things before the educational staff. Also develop good relationships with your teachers. If you sell the importance of speech and language therapy to the teachers, they will be your best friend realizing the importance. Eat in the teachers lounge. Yes, sometimes they drive me crazy asking me questions about referrals, but they value my advice and my professional expertise. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I learned so much from a mentor by asking questions.

19) Focus your passion, find your niche… Never settle!

20) Ask questions! Ask parents about their kids and what works/doesn’t work. Ask experienced therapists why they choose one approach over another. Ask kids for their opinions. Stay open-minded and positive.

21) It is ok to ask questions. It is ok to not know EVERYTHING!

22) Do not be ashamed to say “I don’t know, but I can find out!” Our profession always changes and is growing. You will not always have the answers, and that is ok!

23) Do your best, but cut yourself some slack. I entered the ‘schools’ after 15 years in 0-3. I was old enough to know I didn’t know everything and am giving myself time to learn. My first year went well and I will up my expectations for myself this year based on what I learned last year!

24) Keep learning. Keep growing and most importantly, keep an open mind about setting. There are so many opportunities for us as SLPs. You may find yourself using your degree in a way that you never thought possible or imagined. Roll with it!

25) It’s always about what is best for kids. Focus your work on that and you can never go wrong.

26) You know more than you think you do. Follow your gut. Do what you know is right. Befriend the right people. Do the best by your clients/students!

27) Make friends with teaching assistants in the school system, and with CNAs in hospitals and nursing homes. They can make your job easier, and you will get more carryover of goals when they are on your side.

28) Stop to breath for just a second. The race, however, isn’t over. Graduating is the first step. The CFY is up next, your licensure, your C’s…there is a world of opportunities, but you must finish all if those steps to avail yourself of them. Once you are finished, do what you love. Don’t think for a second that you “must” stay in a place where you are not 100% loving it. The employers need you more than you need them; and it is a great position to be in. Participate…ask questions…be mentored and then volunteer to be a mentor. Everyone remembers those first days as a newly graduated SLP. Help someone make the transition.

29) Read speech blogs, find fun ideas on Pinterest, stay current on journal articles, and keep your therapy both fun and evidence-based!

30) And mine… give yourself a break once a while :)

Anything they missed? I’d love to hear!

ChatAble App Review

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Personally, I feel like AAC is often underutilized in our field. Oftentimes, this can be due to lack of access to the appropriate technology, cost limitations, or time limitations. We learned in grad school that AAC is appropriate for anybody who cannot meet 100% of their communication needs in a day. I love many things about ChatAble including its $159.99 price tag.

According to the Apple Store, you can, “Create and use symbol based grids…or use photos to make visual scene displays. Or, take both and create a hybrid page. The possibilities are endless with ChatAble. ChatAble is an easy to use communication aid app for people with communication difficulties who benefit from symbol and photo support. Parents, teachers and therapists can create page sets in minutes with an intuitive set up. The customisation options are extensive to enable people with a range of physical, cognitive and language abilities the opportunity to use the app to communicate at home, school or with their family and friends…. After entering your message you can also share it using email, twitter or facebook. As pages can be backed up and saved, you can share them with other students or friends too!”

For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been customizing and using ChatAble with a wide variety of clients. I made pages for myself to play around, and made pages that I use every day at work. I will admit, that like any AAC system, it takes quite a bit of time to get started. I wasn’t super impressed with the pages that come on ChatAble, but they do represent a wide variety of the features of ChatAble which I appreciated. I learned a lot about the amazing things this app is capable of by playing around with the boards that come on it!

Without more boring rambling, here are some amazing things about ChatAble:

 You can easily make picture scene displays. Check out the one that would allow me to share information about my dogs below:

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First, I chose this folder so I can share about my dogs in my about me folder. In ChatAble, you have the option of adding a grid, a picture scene display, or a hybrid of both. I chose Scene so then I can take a picture using the camera or use my photo gallery. Then, I can add hotspots that speak when touched. I can also schedule start times for when they should speak as well!

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Check out the finished page below. You can see the hot spots (that I customized the color of). When touched, they introduce my dogs (e.g., This is my dog Harper).

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Below is the board I’ve used most often since getting ChatAble:

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You can see I’ve put a message in the message window. Once great feature about ChatAble is that you can export these messages into iMessage, emails, Twitter, or even Facebook. Pretty cool, and so functional.

Below is currently how I have my homepage organized. Again, I’ve only had the app a few weeks so I know this will probably change daily for the next month or so, but it gives you a good feel for the app:

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Below is my Arts & Crafts folder, which is growing every day. When you click on colors, the second picture opens. You can easily go back using the back arrow in the bottom left corner.

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One thing that is totally necessary in an AAC app and ChatAble does well is customization options. You can make the grids a variety of sizes:

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You can use pictures or symbols. Here is an example of some of the symbol choices for “play”:

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You can make everything from simple, small grids to a hybrid picture scene display with icon choices:

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Two examples are below. The one on the left is a hybrid and the one on the right is a very simple grid (2×2).

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 You can change almost everything. The text size, font, border color, background color, etc… I love the features and options!

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Overall, I felt like everything was easy to learn and intuitive, all while maintaining many options without feeling cluttered.

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You can edit pages by using the menu in the bottom right as shown above. Below are two pictures of the MANY options available to you in the settings:

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-Customization options
-Picture scene display/hybrid option

-Less symbol choices than I would like
-Voice output isn’t great
-Twice I’ve had small changes not save

This app is a fantastic AAC app that has become a must have for me. I love the customization options and the overall ease of use. I haven’t even used half of the options available (e.g., using an icon to open a webpage, adding musicThe picture scene display option is amazing and so useful. I can see taking pictures of my game closet and putting hot spots on each game for beginner communicators to make choices. The ideas are endless. I would absolutely recommend this app for AAC users, parents, and SLPs.

Check out ChatAble in the App Store here!

{thanks for reading!}

Let’s Use Language App Review

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been extremely MIA lately! In the past month, I’ve graduated, started a new job, got ANOTHER puppy, bought a house, went on a vacation to the Dominican Republic, and was in a wedding. I’m.exhausted. So please excuse the lack of posts and new, fun materials! I promise they are coming!


Today, I’m excited to share an app review of Let’s Use Language. It’s an app very similar to another one I’ve reviewed in the past, Let’s Be Social. I enjoyed that app (and use it often) so I knew right away I’d like this app as well.

This app targets: vocabulary, sequencing, categories, and opposites. You can also make your own books to target anything you’d like!



 Below is an example story from the app. You can scroll down slightly but this is about the length of most! I really like how they are short and to the point.


Below are some example question from the vocabulary section:

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Below is a question in the sequencing section from the same story:



Below are some example questions from the categories section:

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I was slightly confused about this section. Overall, I wish there were more typical category type questions. Another book asked questions such as, “Do penguins fly?” Instead, I wish they had questions like, “A penguin is an animal. Name three other animals.”


Below is an example of  an opposite question:


Each time the app provides you with instant feedback:


And then after each “module” or book, your students can see how many they got correct:


-Good length of stories
-The stories are relatable and easy to understand
-I love how the app is set up. Easy to use and not too many graphics/extra things.
-Targets topics I need more materials for!
-So far, the app seems to be getting great reviews from SLPs!

-Some of the questions are directly related to the section they are in. BUT they are all useful.
-Many of the questions asked are not directly answered in the reading passages.
-No data tracking, only the report at the end (if that matters to you).

At the time of this review (01/16/14) the app was $14.99 in the App Store! Definitely worth it! Check it out here.

Disclaimer: This app was given to me in exchange for my review. No other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed are mine.

Binders, Bins, & Bags: Organization for Small Spaces


Organization and being an SLP go hand in hand. Unfortunately, I do not have my own entire speech room to pull kids into and to keep my speech materials in (and I tend to be a messy person in general). I travel between different clinics and only have a shared office space in one of them. This means the majority of my speech materials have a home in my small apartment. I’m lucky to have what I call my “speech closet” where I keep EVERYTHING.

First things first, how did I get all of this during graduate school?


It’s a combination of many places: Amazon, Goodwill, garage sales, and gifts from other fantastic people. Additionally, many of these materials are from Teachers Pay Teachers. Since the beginning of graduate school, I’ve made sure to buy a few favorite materials each mega sale so by the time I graduated, I’d have a good base of products to use! (I knew I wanted to do pediatrics so that was good!)


I should mention that some of the organizers and such were from Goodwill. The wooden shelf on the bottom (shown above) said it was a TV stand (although I think it would be fantastic for shoes ;) ). Note: Go to Goodwill often.


I purchased a bunch of stuff on Amazon before I spent a week organizing! Below is everything I purchased for this project:

I used the jump drives to hold various printable materials! I have/use three different computers so I like having some favorite materials at the ready no matter what computer I have with me!

Check out how I used each of the other items!



I made customized binder covers and spine labels for my materials (most were from my freebie you can download here). Because I have a lot of articulation worksheets, I decided to make binders for articulation sounds. I made binders for: r/l, sh/ch/th/j, k/g/f/v, blends, s/z, data collection/progress monitoring, adult materials, & reference materials.

Additionally, I have a large binder I use for reinforcers. These reinforcers are organized by season and by general reinforcers.

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Last, I have several binders with complete activities in them. For example, my interactive materials each have their own binder because I think they transport best this way.



 I’m absolutely in love with my bin ideas. It is my favorite part of my speech closet! I bought 6 bins and 5 colors of file folders. The six bins are organized as follows:

Red – Articulation
Orange – Other
Yellow – Social Skills
Green – Language Level 1
Blue – Language Level 2
Mixed Colors – Themed materials (red=fall, blue=winter, green=spring, yellow=summer)

Why is this system awesome? Well I’ll tell you. I use the bins below for traveling. If you are in multiple locations (like me) use a different bin for each place. Write the initials of each client on a tab in the bin. When you think of an activity you want to use for the week, pull it from your beautifully color-coded bins at home and put it in the client’s traveling folder in the bin. Voila! It’s easy to put back because everything is color-coded.


After I lesson plan and pack each client’s materials into their folders in the traveling bins, I back everything into a fun bag that I can easily carry around the clinic! My absolute favorite bag is from Vera Bradley. Check it out below:

It’s huge and great and huge and practical and huge.

Why I Love This System:

1) It is portable. I can grab and go activity by activity.

2) It’s easy to keep organized as my material collection grows. I can buy more clear bins and more colors of file folders.

3) When life gets crazy, this system makes my life easier. No more thinking about where activities go. Everything makes sense. Things are easy to find and put away.

4) It is extremely space efficient without sacrificing being practical or useful.

Good luck with your organizing!! Could be a fun summer project for those of you who have off in the summer!

{thanks for reading}

Happy to be an SLP Blog Hop


Today is my first day of work post graduation. I am incredibly nervous, but more than ever, I am “Happy to be an SLP!” Felice, over at The Dabbling Speechie, had this fantastic idea for a blog hop. Check out her post at the end to see an amazingly fun video of a bunch of us SLP bloggers being ridiculous.

 blog hop main graphic

I’ll be sharing a few evidence-based interventions for grammar! To do this, I’ve primarily utilized two different journal articles: 1) Ten Principles of Grammar Facilitation for Children with Specific Language Impairments, and 2) Two Approaches to the Facilitation of Grammar in Children With Language Impairment.

In general, successful and effective grammar intervention contains the following 10 principles:

1) Involve the family! Train them in specific techniques (see #6).

2) Don’t target grammatical form by itself!

3) Create frequent opportunities for practice by manipulating situations! (SLPs are great at this!)

4) Target a variety of genres (story telling, narratives, writing, speaking). Some grammatical structures are rarely used in conversational speech, but are used often in writing!

5) Make the targeted grammatical forms more obvious in your speech.

6) Use sentence recasting (and train parents on how to do this too!!!). For example, if the child says, “Yeah my brother hitted the baseball!” you might say, “Oh really? Your brother hit the baseball?”

7) Avoid telegraphic speech. Model complex utterances!

8) Use elicited imitation. For example, you might say, “Say the girl is running” and have the child repeat. Typically, this strategy should always be used in combination with other techniques.

9) Choose appropriate target forms. The best ones are targets that the child uses correctly sometimes, but not all of the time OR targets that the child never uses but are developmentally appropriate.

10) Primarily use motivating, “real” activities. Children generalize best when drill isn’t the primary way they are being taught!

Overall, the goal of your intervention should be for your students to utilize correct syntax and morphology in narratives, conversation, and other genres when both speaking and writing.

Are you incorporating many of the principles above? Of course you are… cause you’re a blog reading, information seeking, amazing SLP!

{thanks for reading!!}

Speechie Musings-T

Now, click the “Next Blog” image below to head on over to Consonantly Speaking to learn about tips for teachers who have students with fluency disorders! Or, click the image below to see the first blog post so you can begin there! :)

First Blog Next Blog

What’s In Your Cart? Linky for May 2014

 tpt loves teachers

To be honest with you, TpT sales can stress me out!!! I always wait until right at the end to make my purchases, and then end up buying too much or too little, or worse, I don’t know what to buy at all!! Since Jenna (Speech Room News) started her What’s In Your Cart Linky parties, my life has become much easier.


In case you didn’t know, there is a sitewide Teachers Pay Teachers sale coming up on May 6-7 (Tuesday & Wednesday). These only happen around 4 times a year so it’s the best time to stock up on some amazing speech & language materials!

Below are three wonderful materials to stock up on. Click on the pictures to check them out on TpT:

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1) Speech-Language Therapy Rubrics

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2) Articulation Progress Monitoring for /r/

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3) Story Grammar Prompts

Below are some of my recent favorites from my own store. Again, just click on the pictures to see more!

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Have fun shopping!

App Review: Minimal Pairs Academy


If you read my app reviews, you will know that Smarty Ears is one of my all time favorite app makers. I love all of their apps, and love that many are based on evidence-based practice which is so important!

This app is called Minimal Pairs Academy and is based on the cycles approach for phonology!

When you open the app, you are greeted with the picture above. I like that is bright and colorful, but not super overwhelming. From here, you can start the app or view previous reports.

To start, you can choose up to four students to play at once.


You can also double tap the pictures of the students to edit their goals. Check out all of the options for targets below:


This doesn’t even show all of the options (you can scroll to see more) so the variety of targets is fantastic. If you look on the bottom of the first picture above, you can see that you can target auditory bombardment, auditory discrimination, production, and phrase completion.


Auditory bombardment is shown above. On this level, the app says a word and your student finds the corresponding picture until they are all gone.


This is an example of the phrase completion level. As you can see, there is a phrase on the top and two minimal pair options below.


The production level is the classic minimal pairs activity. The flipped over card is a minimal pair of the image shown.


Last is auditory discrimination. Two images are shown with a word and your student must find the corresponding image!

One thing that you might have noticed throughout is that this app takes great data! You can either take it yourself (see the green, yellow, and red circles at the bottom of some screens) or the app takes it itself like in the auditory discrimination page. I love this feature. Check out some of the data it takes below:


One great thing about most Smarty Ears apps is the ability to customize. In the settings, you can adjust word lists and more!

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I love this app, and that it does most of the work for you. It does take a bit of time to get all of the students in the system and their goals set, but once you do it’s smooth sailing after that! This app truly does it all. I trust Smarty Ears apps to have minimal crashing and issues AND to be based off current research, which is very important to me. The voice in the app is surprisingly clear, as are the pictures used.

As I hope you can tell from this review, I’d definitely recommend this fantastic app for your phonology kiddos! It’s available in the iTunes store for $19.99 here.

Enter the giveaway below to win a copy for yourself:

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App Review: Preposition Remix

We’re continuing with the theme of the week: apps! I have another FANTASTIC one to share with you! It’s definitely the most used app on my iPad from the past couple weeks, and I use my iPad a lot!

It’s Preposition Remix from Smarty Ears!


This is an extremely simple (and effective and amazing) app so it won’t take long to describe, but don’t let the short description fool you. My students love it, and so do I!

One thing I love (and think it necessary) is that you can customize which prepositions to target.


Then you start! Some scene examples are shown below:

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When your student touches the correct object, a ‘Well Done’ image pops up and a new scene comes up.


Even my students that really struggle with prepositions experienced success with this app. I’ve began using it as a warm-up before more difficult preposition activities (e.g. barrier games) to get my students feeling ready and confident. In my experience, the pictures were always clear, non-distracting, and relevant. I would absolutely recommend this app to ANY SLP!! It’s available in the iTunes store here for $9.99 and it’s absolutely worth that!

Enter the giveaway below to win a copy for yourself:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Story Squares FREEBIE

I’m always looking for motivating and fun ways to target story sequencing and story retells. During a particularly busy day, I drew a story map on a sheet of paper and my students loved it! It helped them retell the stories and understand some of the parts of a story (who, where, ending). Check out the result below:


 Can you guess what book this was for??

So instead of hand drawing this each time, I made a printable and wanted to share it with all of you! I have versions for 3 and 4 events!

Print this one on one page, cut in half, and tape in one long line:


Or print on two pages so you don’t have to cut and you have room for a title and more information:

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Look like something you’d use? Download it for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. If you download, I’d really appreciate feedback!

{Thanks for reading!}

App Review: iPractice Verbs

Smarty Ears consistently makes some of my favorite speech & language iPad apps! So excited to share THREE with you this week (with givewaways) so stay tuned!!


Today, iPractice Verbs is up! As always, click on any pictures throughout the review to check out more about the app in the App Store!

When you open the app, you have the choice of either doing Flashcards or Find It. I’ll discuss both below:


 For both, you can customize the word lists used. I love this feature!


Flashcards is exactly what it sounds like! The page that comes up will look like the image below:


As you can see, you can chance the test (present, present progressive, past) and the utterance length (word, phrase, sentence). You can also see whose turn it is on the right side! Data can be taken quickly in the bottom right corner as well.

Check out some of the images below to see what changes as I play around with the features a bit.

First, I change the verb to past tense.


Then, I changed the length from word to phrase.


Here is another flashcard. You can see my stars building on the top. Your student gets a star up there for each correct response!


After you collect 10 stars, your student will earn a card which gets kept on their sticker page!

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After you’re finished and exit out, you will see three options:


You can view the sticker page (see the image above). You can also see progress cards (see image below).


Last, you can make certificates for your students that are customizable!

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As I mentioned wayyyy back at the beginning of this review, you can also utilize a “Find It” option instead of Flashcards. This option is customizable:


When the activity begins, it will look something like this:


When you find the correct answer, it becomes larger:


If you press an incorrect answer, it goes away and an empty white box is shown instead:


And here is an example of a sentence cue instead of a single word:


Great right?


This app is a good one for practicing and using verbs of varying tense! I like that it has both an expressive and receptive component. Smarty Ears apps are some of my favorites, and I appreciate that they can upload data to the free Therapy Report Center. The pictures in this app were clear and everything is very intuitive! I like the simple use of graphics because sometimes I think apps overdo it in the graphics department :) The app is available for $9.99 in the App Store and I think it is definitely worth that price! An easy and effective way to target verbs!

Enter the giveaway below to win a copy:

a Rafflecopter giveaway