Reviewed by A. Taylor, SLPA
Magical Concepts, by Virtual Speech Center Inc., is a language therapy app that can be used to work on understanding of basic concepts. It is one of four speech and language therapy apps offered by Virtual Speech Center Inc. ( Magical Concepts, Auditory Workout, Quick Artic, and Outdoor Fun). Magical Concepts tracks progress for 60 basic concepts for home use/individual therapy or for a group of students.
This app I think will quickly become my favorite app for concepts-there are quite a few attributes of Magical Concepts that make this app stand out. First, it has a very large database of concepts- 60 different basic concepts- including spatial concepts such as under, next to, below, top, opposites such as dirty/clean, and many more (See below for full list). Secondly, it allows tracking for multiple students, if needed! This means I can work on basic concepts with more than one child at a time while collecting data for everyone! Third, it gives visual and auditory feedback, which is so important for our kids. (Can I call it Injini–esque in that regard?) I love how different tones are used to indicate whether a choice is correct or incorrect. There is a repeat button available during game play, to hear the verbal instruction again. It also awards stars for correct answers as the child plays- this can be adjusted in settings. Another visual cue is the use of fading of the picture choices. While the verbal instruction is given, the images fade and the child’s will not register. This helps the child focus on the instruction, not on the images. Lastly, when an error is made, the other pictures will disappear, leaving only the correct answer for the child to touch. (This can be shut off in Settings) This gives the child a chance to be successful. (A correct touch after an incorrect touch will not be scored.) And last but not least, this app has a built in reward system- when enough stars are earned, a magical show plays.
Over 60 Basic Concepts
Great for Listening Skills Practice
Engaging for students- built in reward system- Magical show
Data tracking- track responses for an individual or a group of students
Flexible settings- use auto-scoring or manual scoring; present cards in order or randomly, enable or disable rewards, allow automatic page advancing etc.
Store and email results of individual sessions
Basic Concepts Featured
above/below, angry/sad/happy/surprised, around, apart/together, behind/in front, big/small, bottom/top, clean/dirty, closed/open, cold/hot, crooked/straight, curly/straight, day/night, deep/shallow, different/same, down/up, dry/wet, empty/full, far/near, half/whole, in/out, inside/outside, light/heavy, long/short, loud/quiet, missing, narrow/wide, next to, old/new, on/under, over, pair, short/tall, thick/thin, upside down
Main Screen Tabs
From the Main Screen you can access Start Session, Settings, Reports, and Info.
Tap the Reports button from the main screen to view student reports. A new screen will display all the students names you have entered. Here is where you also delete student profiles you no longer need. To delete a student, hit the Edit button in the top right hand corner, touch the red symbol to the left of a name, then touch the Delete button that pops up to the far right of a name. To bring up a list of sessions for that student, tap on a student’s name. Tap on the session date to bring up specific data for a session- data will show the concept tested, and to each concept’s right, the percentage correct. From this screen you can also tap the Email Report button to send a report with the student (client)’s name, the concepts tested and the accuracy of those concepts. The Subject of the email will automatically display with the student’s name and date of session: [Student’s name]’s session from 2012-04-24 17:00.
The Info tab has details about the app (Description/ How to Use) and contact information (Website/ Email). This is a good place to start before using the app.
Turn Automatic Scoring On or Off here.
Show Answer- turn this On to have the correct image shown after a wrong guess, along with a verbal statement about it i.e. The girl is behind the tree.
Randomization– Turn this On to play the cards in random order.
Automatic Paging– Turn this On to make the page advance automatically to a new set of images after each response. If it is set to Off, a Next Page button will appear at the bottom of the screen during play.
User Alternate Count- this can be set from 1 to 5 by tapping the + or – buttons. This is how many turns in a row a student gets before the next student’s turn begins.
Magic Show – If you want a magic show to play as a reward every 5 stars earned, turn this to On. You can also tap the + if you want more stars to be earned before the magic show is shown.
Using Magical Concepts
Once you have adjusted the settings, you will go to Start Session to begin a session. Choose the student(s) you want to participate in the session, then tap the Next button to select the concept(s)- you must select at least one concept-the top of the screen will display which student’s concepts you are picking. Tap Next to continue to the next student for concept selection. Press Next again to begin the session. The concept being tested and the name of the student whose turn it is will be displayed at the top of the screen. (If you have selected more than one student, it will cycle through the students’ turns according to the settings you have chosen.) Verbal instructions will be heard i.e. Show me the cat that is above the bowl. Three similar pictures are below this, and there is a Repeat button at the bottom of the screen to hear the verbal instructions again if needed. While the instructions are being read, the pictures will fade, indicating it is not time to touch the answer yet. When the images return to normal, tap a picture to select it. A tone will play when the correct answer is chosen and a star will be awarded (this can be turned off in Settings); a distinctly different tone will play for an incorrect answer. If the answer is incorrect, the correct answer will be shown, while the other two choices disappear. Then a sentence using the concept will be voiced. (this feature can be shut off in Settings- Flashcards-Show Answer). The settings can also be adjusted so that the page automatically advances, or so that a button must be pressed to advance to the next lesson.
If Magic Show is set to On in the Settings, the student is awarded with a magic show every 5 correct responses- or more, if you have set the number higher. When your preset number of stars is reached, you will hear Congratulations, you earned enough stars to watch a magic show. Would you like to do that now? Tap Yes to accept or No to decline. A short magical trick will be shown, then you will be asked to continue.
Ending a Session
To end a session, tap the Finish Session button in the upper left hand corner. The announcer will say his goodbyes: Great job today, see you next time! You can return to the Main Menu through the Main Menu button in the bottom left hand corner, or tap the View Report button in the bottom right hand corner. (See Main Screen Tab– Reports for more information)
(I always have one!)
With so many features I seek out in a therapy app, I actually had to stretch a bit here to come up with a wish list. There are 60 concepts to choose from, so selecting the concepts to work on does require a bit of scrolling! For easier access, I would love to have the concepts grouped by type i.e. spatial concepts etc. I also wouldn’t mind having a way to select a group of concepts all at once, and then perhaps deselect from that group, instead of checking off each concept to use during a session one by one. I also noticed that some of the emotions images are a bit more “staged” than I would like. For example, the “angry” image featuring a little boy is a boy pretending to be angry, with his fist pumped and his face scrunched up. The other “angry” images are different, but also staged. I would love to see actual people captured in an angry state, as it can be quite subtle.