app advice for speech-language pathologists, educators and parents


Again there are hundreds and hundreds of ways to use the iPad to support vocabulary.  The iPad 2 and iPad 3 already come with an onboard camera, so right there you have a powerful vocabulary teaching tool at your fingertips.  But check out these few suggestions for a quick fix gallery of vocabulary apps to have in your arsenal:

One of my favorite apps ever is Noodlewords.

The concept is simple.  Touch the word and the word will do what it means.  But it’s all in the execution, and the characters, the animation and the sound effects all come together magically.Pull on the word stretch with your finger and watch it stretch and then shoot around the screen like a rubber band.  Touch surprise and watch the word sneak up on the little bugs and scream out SURPRISE!     So much fun.  $2.99


There is no better app for making up your own flashcards (and more) than Bitsboard from Grasshopper Apps. (Read the full review here.) Create your own beautiful materials to teach vocabulary across any subject in a matter of minutes. And it’s free.



A new instant vocabulary favorite is Endless Alphabet from Callaway Digital Arts. (Read the full review from February here.) This beautifully executed app has children sequencing sounds to form words and then brings the words to life with meaning.  Each letter cries out its unique letter sound “arrr, arrr, arrr, arrr”) as your child drags it into place within the word.  Next adorable monsters put on a little animated cartoon to show kids what the word means. It’s all done with the perfect blend of whimsy, humor and style. It’s highly visual, highly interactive, and highly entertaining, and it’s the kind of fun-with-letters activity that our children with autism eat right up. This is “Edutainment” at its best. Perfect for preschool and early elementary kids, and absolutely free.


First Words International by Hamaguchi Apps is a great vocabulary builder for your younger students or emerging speakers. This app teaches 50 different early nouns (sorted by category) in seven different languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Hindi. Each activity takes the format of learn the word, find the word, say the word. It includes a record and playback interface for practicing and reinforcing production and it includes rewarding animations when tasks are completed. Choose the words you want to teach in settings, and this becomes a wonderful tool for shaping oral motor speech and/or early receptive/expressive vocabulary. Absolutely fantastic for ELL teachers, SLPs working with younger or minimally verbal students, and early intervention teachers. Home version is $5.99, Pro version is $9.99.


For hundreds of other free and inexpensive high quality flash cards, also be sure to check out the whole family of apps from kindergarten.com.


 Action Words is free, so you can start with that one and build from there.

Another app worth mentioning for some early vocabulary lessons is Pogg by Ricky Vuckovic.  This friendly little green alien will act out dozens of words (mainly action verbs) in response to a picture choice or the spelled command.  The animations are simple and sweet, and Pogg seems to draw young kids right in.  A great way to teach and reinforce a host of every day words like run, cook, draw, sneeze and yawn.  If you have a very young caseload, you will get plenty of mileage out of this 99 cent app.