Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 2 - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 2

by Sean Sweeney February 20, 2018 3 min read

La La Land imageIn last month’s La La Land post, I described some of the literature around using context-driven activities in therapy, related to a recent presentation at November’s ASHA convention in Los Angeles. In this previous session, Story Grammar Marker® and ThemeMaker® were presented as key tools in pairing book series specifically with technology resources for narrative development.

I previewed that this month’s post would discuss some of those exemplar pairings specifically.

Before we crack some books and launch some apps, a word about analyzing contexts. For both books and apps, it can help if they have what I like to call a “Speechie” quality. You can read more about this along with the FIVES criteria (Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant, Speechie).

Breaking down the Speechie part, we can ask ourselves if the book or app is a context for speech and language development:

  • Does it have a narrative structure that can be used for intervention, considering Story Grammar Marker® or Braidy the StoryBraid® as a tool (this includes apps that allow you to make your own choices such that a story unfolds)?
  • Does it provide or allow you to interact with informational language or curriculum topics such that the Thememaker® Expository Text Structures of List, Sequence, Description, Compare/Contrast, Cause-Effect, Problem-Solution, etc., could be targeted?
  • Does it provide a context for pragmatic interaction among students, tapping social competencies as they work together to accomplish a goal (e.g., creating a picture collage, discussed later in this post).
  • Does the context contain or prompt microstructures lacking in the student or students’ language (e.g., question forms, pronouns, verbs/tenses, cohesive ties, vocabulary)?

Without further ado, here are two sample series and app connections related to narrative language—these hopefully will spur you to find more series on your own!

1. How Do Dinosaurs… series (Yolen and Teague)

How Do Dinosaurs Go To School coverSpeechie characteristics of series: list structure, question forms, tackles specific social situations (schools, playdates, birthday party, chores, taking care of pets, being sick), facial expressions/emotions, “expected and unexpected behaviors” for situations (see Social Thinking®).

These books pair well with apps that simulate the contexts and situations involved; you can use these for dramatic play around the expected and unexpected behaviors in the books.

Toca Life Sample Screen

The highly interactive Toca Life apps allow you to interact with any character and object on screen, in a wide variety of settings for storytelling and socio-dramatic play.

2. Lakin and Nash’s Crocodile series: Snow Day, Beach Day, Rainy Day

Snow Day coverSpeechie characteristics of series: complete episode narrative structure, context of planning (poorly) enables discussion of executive functioning and strategies (see the work of Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen), minimal text to expand narrative in discussion, categories, a variety of settings.

These books, first of all, pair well with MarcoPolo: Weather, given the context of the weather affecting their “Group Plans.” With this free app, you can make many stories unfold by changing the weather and observing the effects on the characters on screen. This is a great opportunity to use cohesive ties to construct oral or written sentences about the weather events you make happen! (see MindWing’s Cohesive Tie JAR-gon activity kit).

Marco Polo: Weather app screen

Pic Collage sample screenAs described in this previous post, the free Pic Collage app could be used to create descriptive setting or action sequence collages of any of the settings relevant to these books. The crocodiles navigate (or try to) a snowy outdoor scene, a park, a beach, and a campsite, among other locations. Make life a beach with Pic Collage!

Note: most of the apps mentioned in this post are available for both iPad and Android platforms.

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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