Apps for Older Students to Enhance Language and Learning Skills

As a speech/language pathologist who works with students in 7th-12th grade, I wanted to share some of my favorite apps. It can be hard to locate these apps in the great sea of the App Store, but it is so worth it when you find the right ones. I work with a wide range of students so this list represents a wide range of abilities and needs but all of the apps are age appropriate.

In the interest of fair disclosure I am also an app developer, and my husband and I developed Enchanted Dictionary.

Language / Learning Area App Link Use
Abstract/Idiomatic Language StoryLines The first player puts in his/her own idiom or chooses one that is provided. The next player has to try to draw the idiom. The next player has to guess what the idiom is. Great for discussing literal vs. figurative meanings.
Idioms Lots of idioms, the history of how they started and an explaination of what they mean.
Comixer Use the provided panels to create your own comic strips. Great for sequencing, humor, and creativity.
Expressive Language SimplePhysics Students build various structures and then watch while they are tested. Great for eliciting complex language, use of science vocabulary.
Creative Genius On-The-Go Great for eliciting language through “What If’s ?”, “Imagine That!” and “Wack-tivities”.
Leaf Snap HD Use categorization skills to analyze what tree a leaf belongs to. Take a picture of a leaf and use the database to identify the tree.
Educreations Import pictures or draw on this app and dictate as you go.
Scribblenauts Remix Students must look at the situation, problem solve what object they might need to get through it and then come up with alternatives if that doesn’t work. Can be used to work on using descriptives (“a bigger ladder”), explaining their inferences, word retrieval and turn taking.
Using I and Me Students must select the correct pronoun to fill in a sentence. Illustrations are provided.
Compound Words Montessori Drag words together to make compound words.
Roxis's Amazing Vacation Adventure A beautifully illustrated and action-packed app that is great for eliciting -ing verbs, comments, descriptions and requests. Great for older students with limited literacy skills.
Story Dice Story Dice allows students to roll a varied number of dice with pictograms on them. Great for eliciting sentences or narratives.
Sentence Builder Teen This app meets the needs of older students who are still developing language skills for producing complex sentences. The multi-level format and audio feedback allows for support at an appropriate level for a range of students. The pictures and sentences are age-appropriate and engaging for my students.
Written Language Typ-O This app is great for students who are dyslexic or have a great deal of difficulty with spelling. It has both word prediction and text-to-speech.
Works in conjunction with
Text editor, word processor, text-to-speech. Also gives a nice “Inspect” chart that gives word count, words per sentence, parts of speech used grade level and readability index.
Great for pre-writing/thought organization. All of these apps allow a student to create a graphic organizer on the iPad.
GoodReader Easy to use and comprehensive PDF reader. Students can use it to annotate class materials. I also routinely PDF materials like News2You and let my students use the iPad to mark answers.
Evernote Create text, photo and audio notes easily. They are all searchable and all save in the Cloud across all your devices. Makes text within images searchable. Record part of a lecture or directions for an assignment. Take snap shots of a white board, another student’s notes, and a page in a book. So many uses for this one.
Skitch Allows you to write on top of images, cut out parts of them, magnify them. Links to your Evernote account so you can save it there.
Lists for Writers Thinkamingo's Lists for Writers is a great way to help support students in developing independence for brainstorming and word retrieval.
TellTale-Free A socially collaborative story chain app. Up to three players take turns adding up to 120 characters to a story before passing it along. Great for turn taking, topic maintanance and written language skills.
Vocabulary Enchanted Dictionary 7-12th Grade
Enchanted Dictionary 4-6th Grade
I use our apps to help students identify the main idea of the topic they are studying in their classes and also to identify key vocabulary they are using. After the vocabulary is selected we play Enchanted dictionary and they focus on the language of the definitions.
WordSLapPs Create your own sets of vocabulary to practice using photos you take or imaged taken from the web. You record your voice to go with the picture. I have used this for everything from photos of classmates to steps of pre-vocational activities. Great layout that provides multiple definitions, synonyms and allows the student to listen to the word.
Flashcards+ There are many good flashcard apps but I find this one particularly easy to use and it interfaces with to quickly download lots of word sets.
iVocAudio Students can enter questions and answers to study in this auditory flash card app. Able to share files with other users.
Literacy Skills Sampler HD
Work Skills Sampler HD
Life Skills Sampler HD
These are a few examples of the apps by the Conover Company that have pictures and video clips to demonstrate life skills vocabulary.
Photo Table Allows you to add photos in various categories and add music as they come on to the screen. My Life Skills class finds it very motivating to try to name a picture so that I don’t have to stop the music.
GCF Vocabulary Provides audio paired with written words and pictures to present the most common words in the English language.
Just Say It! A “Taboo” style game that challenges word retrieval and use of synonyms.
Bag Game Select from various items to place in the bag and then have others guess the item. Great for word retrieval, categorization.
Comprehension and Listening Skills BrainPOP This app has short movies (>5 minutes) on a variety of topics and quizzes that check comprehension afterwards.
QuestionIt Great for working on “Wh” questions. Uses SymbolStix symbols.
PuppetPals HD Great for referential communication, following directions. Highly rewarding as you can add your own pictures in addition to using their stickers and background. Students love recording their own dialogue.
Khan Academy Watch Videos of Math, Science, Finance and Economy, Humanities and Test Prep.
Hear Coach Student must listen for a word presented under various listening situations. Tracks progress.
Tapikeo HD Create your own audio pictures with captions. Layouts are flexible and the language possibilities are limitless.
Social Communication / Social Thinking The Social Express Lite Discusses social rules and has animations that can be paused for discussion.
Social Skills Sampler HD Has short video clips demonstrating social skills such as handling criticism and apologizing.
Middle School Confidential This 49-page digital graphic novel is based on Book 1 of the award winning Middle School Confidential series written by nationally recognized teen expert and anti-bullying activist Annie Fox, M.Ed., and illustrated by Harvey award winner Matt Kindt.
Conversation Builder Teen This is one of those apps I can't imagine being without. Students have the opportunity to practice their conversation skills for teen-relevant topics including entertainment, bullying, and sarcasm. They get specific feedback about the choices they make in conversation. My students are very thoughtful as they use the app and it has promoted some great discussions and carryover.
Visual Supports VisTimerFree Great for goal setting with students who have trouble staying on task.
Pictello Many uses for this flexible app but great for teaching sequences of activities, and creating social stories.
Video Scheduler Easily make picture and video schedules.
Sōsh Lite The full version includes a comprehensive package of visual and social cognition supports. The lite version allows you to trial some of them.
Visual Timer HD This app is great for low literacy students and shows time remaining without use of numbers.
Math Alge-Bingo This creative app takes students through 13 different levels of difficulty building their equation-solving skills within a Bingo game.
Portion Platter Practice problems ranging from easy to difficult for identifying fractions, decimals, percentages, and simplifying fractions.
Math Bracket HD Practice simplifying equations.
Multiplying Acorns HD Have fun with practicing multiplication facts.
Multiplication & Times Tables: Invasion of the Moon Monkeys An arcade style game that is hugely motivating and the retro graphics and game play are great for older students.
Long Division
Fraction Math
Visual Multiplication
These are all great apps that provide a flexible level of scaffolding for students and great visual supports.
Social Studies Presidents vs. Aliens Use flash cards to learn about the presidents and then use that knowledge to help the presidents defeat the aliens.
Governomics Aligned with the Virginia Department of Education SOL Civics and Economics standards. The student makes decisions as governor to improve the quality of public services.
Cause and Effect DoReMi123 A music app with great animations that's also great for students working on cause and effect and imitation. Hugely rewarding and intuitive.