App Review: Language Builder Pro from Stages

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Carrying around packets of cards can be back-breaking as a traveling SLP. Many companies have begun transferring their teaching cards to apps to help save space, cost, and our own backs. Today I am reviewing a new app by the company Stages Learning Materials. I often use the big box of noun cards in therapy for many different disorders from autism to language. The app puts all of the popular noun cards into one convenient app. Please read the features and my opinion of Language Builder Pro from Stages.

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Overview (from the developer):

The Language Builder from Stages App is based on the Language Builder Picture Noun Cards, Sets 1 & 2. Used by BCBA’s, SLP’s Teachers and Parents to teach basic language skills to children with autism, speech language delay or special needs, the app includes 6 ABA-based activities with customizable presentations. You can create unlimited users, save user lessons, and generate reports. All of the images in the Language Builder from Stages app are taken directly from the top-selling Language Builder Picture Cards which you have come to rely on daily. The Pro version of the app also allows you to add your own images and create your own flashcards to use with the app’s ABA based activities. There are 2 versions of the App available: the basic version for $39.99 and the pro version for $119.99.

The basic version includes 90 Basic stage images: 6 Apples, 6 Cookies, 6 Cats, 6 Birds, 6 Shoes, 6 Shirts, 6 Airplanes, 6 Cars, 6 Chairs, 6 Beds, 6 Balls, 6 Bicycles, 6 Flowers, 6 Cups, and 6 Spoons. With these images, you can do all of the Identical Matching and the Similar Matching activities, and you can do the remaining activities (Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting) with 15 different words (90 total images). Additional word packs are available for purchase by category for $15.99 each.

The Pro Version contains over 600 words from the categories of Animals, Foods, Transportation, Furniture, Clothing, Toys, Everyday Objects, Insects, Sea Life, Musical Instruments, Tools, Body Parts, Safety Sign, Shapes and Colors. There are no additional activities in the Pro Version that are not available in the Basic Version. The Pro Version, however, offers the ability to add your own flashcards, while the basic version does not. These features include:

  1. Reporting feature to track student progress: The reporting feature tracks the progress of each student, including words taught, success rate, prompts used, and more. The reporting feature is available on both the basic version and pro version of the app.
  2. Add your own flashcards: You can take your own pictures, and add unlimited flashcards to the app for use in the Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting activities. This feature is available only on the Pro Version of the app. Note, due to the very specific requirements for images in the Identical Matching and Similar Matching activities, you can no add your own images to those activities.

Once the app is opened you select the user. Both versions allow for unlimited users and will save that user’s data. After selecting the user, the next screen will be the Main Menu where you can select from six different activities: Identical Matching, Similar Matching, Receptive Labeling, Expressive Labeling, Picture Identification, and Sorting. Before entering any of the activities you can set up specific guidelines for that particular user in each activity.

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As you can see there is a lot of customizing that can be done towards your specific client. I only showed a small sample of the customizing that is available for each activity.

Before each activity begins the user is provided with directions and needs to demonstrate an understanding of the directions before the Start Game prompt is provided.

Next I will provide you with screen shots and additional information about each activity.

1. Identical Matching:  teaches students to match identical pictures of familiar objects. The user drags the matching pictures to get a verbal reinforcement. The developer suggests that all first time users of this app begin here. There are full detailed directions on the Stages Learning Material website.

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2. Similar Matching:  teaches students to match pictures portraying the same word but different images. This practice helps students generalize lessons taught in therapy into other environments. For example, an apple can be a variety of colors. An apple even looks different when it is cut. It is important for the students to understand more than one representation of the word. More detailed directions are available at this link on the Stages Learning Materials website.

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3. Receptive Labeling:  after the student hears the word he/she touches a picture to identify their choice. Each section has detailed directions and videos on the Stages Learning Materials website.

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4. Expressive Labeling:  students name the object shown. Note: this sections does not have voice recognition capabilities due to differences in pronunciations. This sections also does not provide reinforcement. The website, Stages Learning Materials, provides detailed directions and a video tutorial.

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5.Picture Identification:  the student hears the word while looking at the picture. This section is practice to work on increasing the association between words and pictures. There is no student responses required for this section. The difference between this section and Expressive Labeling is that the student is provided the word to name the picture but in Expressive Labeling the student needs to name the picture. Further details are available at Stages Learning Materials website.

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6. Sorting:  teaches students to sort pictures into categories. The developers to not begin this activity until a student has mastered Similar Matching Activity. The complexity of the categories can be changed based on the students levels: different words vs. different categories. Make sure to understand review all of the details at the Stages Learning Materials website.

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Additional information can be found on the Stages Learning Materials website:

Target & Distractor Words

Positioning & Repetition

Prompts

Commands & Reinforcers

This app also allows the user to add their personal flash cards within the settings. When creating a flash card, the user can add audio and select categories that the picture might be included in as well. If an additional category is needed it can be customized also.

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What I like about this app:

  • This app has so many applications for speech therapy with students in a variety of disabilities including AAC, receptive/expressive language, articulation, following directions, categorizing.
  • The photographs used in the app help many students make therapy and environment connections easier.
  • The portability of the app vs. the box of cards can’t be beat for a traveling speech therapist.
  • I have never seen an app with the ability to customize each section to a student’s individual needs. I do recommend that a new user reviews the detailed directions on the developer’s website. I didn’t review them all before beginning with a student and I found myself going back to the website to perfect the section after the session. If I would have reviewed the directions first it would have been a smoother and more productive session.
  • It is nice to progress to the next level for a student without having to go to another app. The consistency of pictures, audio, and layout is helpful for students as well. If you would go to different apps, students would have different pictures to follow.
  • Make your own flashcards setting is wonderful! It is nice to personalize the app with pictures of common locations a student may visit or people the student may frequently encounter. Also a traveling SLP may want to add picture cards that they already have such as line drawings of things that match the photographs within the app (apple, airplane, etc.).

What I would improve:

  • The price is high for most school based SLPs to afford on their own but consider the price of a set of Stages Language Builder cards ($149.99) vs, the price of the Language Builder Pro app ($119.99). The customization of the app vs. the cards make it something to consider purchasing.
  • I would like to have more detailed directions on the app and a link to the video tutorials would also be nice to have within the app so you can link to the website easier.

This app can be invaluable for any SLP, especially travelling ones. The customization that is available is so important since no 2 students learn alike. I hope you consider purchasing this app to use in therapy to build students generalizing of objects, naming objects, identifying objects, and sorting objects.

One additional note: if you have the cards make sure you download the FREE Data Keeping Sheets. Here is the link to the free resource on the Stages Learning Materials website.

Disclaimer: A copy of this app was provided to me for my review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions are mine.

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