THE PAL AWARD is the only Toy Industry recognition led by a credentialed speech and language expert, calling out the language learning edge in exceptional toys, games, books and media. Through their design, quality, content and character, PAL winners spark Play that Advances Language. Sherry Artemenko’s selections based on 35 years of child development experience and over 15,000 hours working with kids, empower her unique reviews that explain how parents can best use her winning PAL recommendation.
In a world that runs on words, finding fun ways to build kids’ speech and language early on is invaluable to their future academic success. Sherry Artemenko training as a language pathologist and over thirty five years and 17,000 hours working and playing with children has equipped her to distinguish top products. As a language expert, Sherry regularly promotes PAL winners in the media—FOX6 Milwaukee, NBC CT TV,ASHASphere (American Speech Language-Hearing Association’s blog), and has been tapped as an expert for Parents Magazine.
The Techie Rangers story is a sweet introduction to children who have an alternate way of speaking as well as to the Bluebee Pals who are great companions to learning! The free activity guide is a helpful tool for parents, therapists, and educators to use to expand language learning based on the story.
Kayle Concepts LLC ( Bluebee Pals) creativity, hard work, and developmental focus is evident in this outstanding product. The exciting Bluebee Pals Book and guide can be purchased on Amazon: E-book for free with Kindle membership or print version for $9.99. The PAL Award is the only industry recognition focusing on the best toys, games and books that not only entertain, but also inspire kids and caregivers to engage in rich communication and interaction.
The Bluebee Pal Pro 4.0 is an interactive plush learning tool that connects via Bluetooth to all iOS and Android devices and pairs with all apps with a narrative, which provides endless educational opportunities and entertainment for both mainstream and special needs children in early childhood classrooms. The patented technology allows Bluebee’s “mouth and head” to realistically move while teaching curriculum through educational games, activities, and apps.
Due to their endearing, universal appeal, Bluebee Pals and The Bluebee Pal Program, Bluebee app, Techie Rangers E-book and free Activity Guide are uniquely suited for use with early intervention and elementary-aged students. They are easy to incorporate into early childhood curriculum standards, and they capture and maintain student interest while making learning fun and memorable.
Bluebee is compatible with ALL apps with a narrative.
Bluebee teaches language and AAC (alternative augmentative communication).
Bluebee sings with your favorite music apps.
Bluebee acts as an educational tool with voice recording apps.
With Bluebee, children become immediately more engaged and attentive, and eagerly look forward to focused learning opportunities!
What is the Bluebee Pal Program?
The Bluebee Pal Program is a free curriculum aligned with Common Core State Standards. The curriculum consists of lesson plans that have been created by a certified teacher who specializes in exceptional and early education. With these easy to use lesson plans, teachers are given step-by-step instructions on how to teach standards to their students while engaging with Bluebee Pals.
Our free curriculum use vetted applications and internet resources to teach:
Science and Listening
Social Emotional Skills
Writing a Book Report
ESL (English as a Second Language)
The lessons focus on PreK and Elementary Education Common Core State Standards in Literature, Informational Text, Foundational Skills, Language and Geometry. The lesson plans clearly outline needed supplies, links to applications and internet resources, teacher and student expectations, extension activities and differentiation for exceptional education.
The Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-book (also available in paperback from Amazon) takes readers on an adventure with Andy and his Bluebee Pal Techie Ranger friends. Andy, a student with complex communication needs, uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device or “talker” to speak to the Techie Rangers as they help him return to the Rainbow School.
The accompanying free Activity Guide provides fun extension activities focused on literacy and math. Don’t forget to check out the Bluebee Pals Curriculum for a lesson plan made especially for the Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-Book and Activity Guide.
The free Bluebee Pal Learning App is a fully integrated life skills and cognitive development tool for children ages 3 to 8.
The app includes a Bluebee Pal House with 5 rooms targeting life skills, social/emotional skills and educational activities.
*The Bluebee Pals Curriculum, Bluebee Pal App, Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-Book and Activity Guide, app recommendations, numerous video tutorials, and extensive professional development resources are all available at http://bluebeepals.com
* Learn more how to implement Bluebee Pals in the classroom
“We all have beliefs about our own abilities and potential. These beliefs are part of our mindset which is so powerful it can fuel our behavior and predict our success. Mindset shapes our everyday lives, helping us interpret our experiences and future possibilities. In her research at Stanford University, Dr. Carol Dweck identified two different types of mindsets. Growth mindset occurs when we believe our intelligence and abilities can be improved upon with effort and the right strategies. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence and abilities cannot be altered in a meaningful way.” https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/teach-growth-mindset-kids-activities
“You see, many students enter our classrooms believing they’re either smart or not smart, good at reading or math, or not good in those areas. This belief that our basic qualities like intelligence and talents can’t be changed is called a fixed mindset. Often our students figure: Why bother trying at something that’s hard for me? I’m not naturally good at it and I can’t really do anything about that.
Our students may not realize that their brains have the ability to change and grow through their experiences (neuroplasticity). Students need us to teach them that the human brain is like a muscle that can be trained through repetition and practice. When students realize this, they develop a growth mindset: the belief that abilities can be developed through commitment and hard work. And once they have a growth mindset, they can learn anything.” https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/routines-growth-mindset/
Simple ways to infuse growth mindset on a daily basis. These are regular practices that help you ensure students will:
Be willing to try new things
Stick with hard tasks and not give up
Push themselves to do their best work, not just what’s “good enough”
Believe in themselves and their own ability to learn
Strategies for helping students develop a growth mindset
Introduce learning activities that are designed to benefit children’s brains.
When kids make mistakes, respond in casual ways that help them rebound.
Get student input on creating helpful classroom displays that reinforce learning.
Use specific feedback and helpful vocabulary that guides students to identify how they achieved success.
Model growth mindset so kids can see it in action on a daily basis.
Start formally teaching kids about growth mindset / neuroplasticity through books, apps, and other resources.
Provide attainable challenges and set achievable mini-goals to encourage students’ consistent, incremental progress.
Give opportunities to face obstacles and solve problems.
Teach and model good attitudes.
Teach how to accept constructive criticism.
VIew failure as learning.
Design classroom activities that involve cooperative, group learning –rather than competitive or individualistic.
Celebrate successes and minimize failures.
Provide opportunities to celebrate the success of others.
Teach perseverance and the power of “YET”. Encourage students to not give up when things get hard and tell them that if they can’t do something now, it doesn’t mean they never will. Say “You can’t do this YET, but keep going!”When students succeed, praise their efforts and strategies as opposed to their intelligence. Help students focus on, prioritize, and value the process of learning.
Model resilience and problem solving strategies.
Give children opportunities to solve problems on their own when appropriate.
Encourage children to ask a friend to help before seeking an adult’s assistance.
Do not always try to fix things for your students. Give them the time to try – and fail – to fix their own challenges.
Give children the time and space to use materials in their own way. This helps build confidence, independence and creative problem solving, which are all big parts of fostering that growth mindset.
Make space for frustration. Talk about that emotion and how to deal with it. Help your students be motivated by frustration, not shut down by it.
Praise effort authentically and specifically.
Use diverse teaching strategies.
Encourage active observation and interaction with the environment (wonder).
Encourage question asking.
Utilize Investigation and experimentation.
Encourage student development of conclusions
Some Resources to Get You Started!
Whooo’s Reading: (K -8) This web app allows you to help students improve their writing based on personalized feedback. After answering a standards-aligned, open-ended question, the response is sent to you for grading. You can then score the answer and give the student feedback on how he/she can improve to get a higher score—score is tied to Wisdom Coins, giving students even more motivation to take a second swing at it.
Daily Goals: This app is perfect for setting and tracking student goals. Though it wasn’t created for use in the school setting, it has all the features of a motivating student goal tracker. Once signed up, students simply create their goal(s)—read something new every day, write one blog post a week—and then keep track of it with the app. With built-in analytics, students are able to determine what might be holding them back, assessing the process rather than just the outcome.
Growth Mindset Videos by Class Dojo Awesome video library for mindsets, social, and emotional growth.
Typorama.Is an app that you can use to add words to a picture, which is perfect for creating encouragement posters to foster mind growth for your classroom.
Two of the best children’s books on growth mindsetare Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by Dr. JoAnn Deak and Making a Splash: A Growth Mindset Children’s Book by Carol E. Reiley.
Check out the free online brain songs provided by the University of Washington.
“English-language learners, or ELLs, are students who are unable to communicate fluently or learn effectively in English, who often come from non-English-speaking homes and backgrounds, and who typically require specialized or modified instruction in both the English language and in their academic courses. https://www.edglossary.org/english-language-learner/
According to fluentu.com, the goal of teaching ESL is to get ELL students proficient in English as quickly as possible to allow ELL students to be integrated into classrooms and social settings, and to be able to communicate effectively. ELL students must develop critical thinking skills and test-taking skills along with their English language skills. Specific objectives include improving skills in the areas of grammar, vocabulary development, listening, speaking, pronunciation, reading and writing. https://www.fluentu.com/blog/educator-english/what-is-ell/
Bluebee Pals can be excellent tools in teaching beginning ELL students!
Bluebee Pals easily connect to apps via Bluetooth to make learning come to life! Children become immediately more engaged and attentive! With engagingly charming mouth and head movements, students will eagerly look forward to focused learning opportunities!
Bluebee is compatible with ALL apps with a narrative.
Bluebee is compatible with text-to-speech apps
Bluebee inspires learning with educational apps.
Bluebee reads any storybook apps
Bluebee sings with your favorite music apps.
Bluebee acts as an educational tool with voice recording apps.
1. One on One and/or Group Circle Time : Use Bluebee connected to apps to teach students core curriculum concepts individually or in small groups. You can target comprehension, vocabulary, wh-questions, grammar, listening, speaking, sequencing, following directions, pronunciation, critical thinking, spelling and more!
Apps to get you started:
*Lingokids – English For Kids by Monkimun Inc. This wonderful app creates an individual English Learning Program for your student based on their language level and age. Their curriculum and graphics are beyond amazing. It focuses on language skills such as English pronunciation, vocabulary, ABCs, numbers, shapes, colors, animals, food, writing and more.
*BrainPOP ELL by BrainPOP® is a comprehensive English language learning program that uses animated movies to model conversational English. It offers leveled learning for beginner, intermediate and advanced learners. It targets listening, speaking, reading, and writing. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/brainpop-ell/id813671555.
*Endless Alphabet by Originator Inc. Endless Alphabet shows students how each word is spelled and provides a fun illustration of it’s definition. Then it shuffles the letters and challenges your student to put the word back together. What makes it even more awesome is that when the students pick up each letter to put it back on the right place, the letter makes its sound! ELL students get to review the sound of each letter, the spelling of each word and its definition through super entertaining and interactive illustrations!
*Fun English | Learn English by Studycat Limited This app covers all 4 language domains through fun games, stories and songs! New vocabulary is introduced in creative contexts to help students remember each meaning and is used in sentences to maximize their understanding. Lessons are divided into different categories that will allow your student to review different concepts and ideas.
*Learn English US for Beginners by Hector Gonzalez Linan teaches 500 vocabulary words in the areas of alphabet letters, numbers, colors, food, verbs, days of the week, animals, clothes, body parts, sports, and more.
*Voice Memos by Apple. Quickly and easily record vocabulary words for Bluebee to say and for students to practice repeating. Let your students record their words, sentences, or stories, too! Matching game: Record nouns for Bluebee and give students picture or word flashcards to choose the correct match for the word that was said. Use the recorder to have Bluebee give instructions or ask questions. Use the recorder to have students sequence or retell a story.
3. Text-to-Speech: Interact in real time with your Bluebee Pal by typing in text for your Bluebee to speak! Ask and answer questions or carry-on a real life conversation! Make up your own stories or type in the text of books for your Bluebee Pal to read. Book discussions: Have Bluebee Read a book out loud. Then, using this app, type in questions for Bluebee to ask the students. Have Bluebee help practice vocabulary by typing in words or definitions, questions, or even tests for him to say aloud.
BIG EXCITEMENT OPENING DAY AT AGOSCI CONFERENCE- PERTH, AUSTRALIA: August 28-31, 2019
Bluebee Pals Exhibit in Perth Australia!..AAC Communication: Augmented, Alternative Communication.
What is AGOSCI? Established in 1981, AGOSCI is an inclusive group interested in enhancing the participation of all people with complex communication needs. AGOSCI also aims to build the capacity of society to achieve their vision.
Their vision is that people with complex communication needs participate fully in all aspects of life.AGOSCI’s membership includes individuals with complex communication needs, family and community members, teachers, speech pathologists, and other professionals.
An estimated 3.5 million Americans experience speech disability to the extent that they have significant difficulty being understood by others. Many of these people have no speech at all and also have other physical disabilities that preclude expressive communication using gestures, writing, or typing.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a field of endeavor addressing the communication and other related needs of individuals who experience significant and complex communication disorders. The goal of AAC is to achieve the most effective communication possible for the individual in order to maximize their potential and lead the highest quality of life possible. Aspects of this field include clinical service delivery, education, research and advocacy. Individuals who benefit from AAC intervention frequently require assistive technology such as Speech Generating Devices (SGDs), the term used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as a funding category of Durable Medical Equipment.
At the start, the field of AAC often focused on teaching AAC users to request highly desired items like food or toys and labeling nouns and verbs.
The vocabulary taught and used was often very specific such as “I want cracker”, “bathroom”, “ball”. Over time a vast amount of research has guided therapists, users, and caregivers towards more effective AAC use.
What we have learned is that 80% of the words we use in English to communicate across various settings are not specific nouns and verbs, but instead what we call “core words”. Core words are frequently occurring abstract words that can be used to communicate many messages across many topics. They are words like “it”, “go”, “you”, “see”. Many low-tech and high-tech AAC systems are providing core word vocabulary to the user on their front or home page to allow fast and effect communication across all settings. Just one look at a well-known AAC website http://praacticalaac.org/ will help you to see how core word use is really at the forefront of the AAC world!
The more AAC users hear and see core vocabulary being used by their communication partners on their devices and the more they are aided to use it themselves, the more they will be able to communicate with the world! Bluebee Pals are a great tool for use with AAC apps and core words. Simply connect your Bluebee Pal via Bluetooth connection to your iPad with a communication app. As the AAC user activates buttons on their communication app, Bluebee will speak. What a fun way to hear your “voice” being used!
Bluebee Pals are a diverse assistive technology tool and considered by many speech therapists as a effective tool in engaging children and adults in communication.
This educational e-book is a perfect companion to be used with both the Bluebee Pal Pro and the Bluebee Pals app. The book also stands alone as a story about a young boy named Andy who gets lost and rescued by his Bluebee Pal friends. This story, which initially takes place in a school with children that have complex communication needs takes the reader on the adventure of a lifetime!
What happens when the Andy gets lost? He gets rescued by his friend and park ranger, Leo the Lion who takes him on an adventure through the forest, farm and back to school. During this quest, he meets all of the Bluebee Pals and learns about their superpowers in helping other children.
The main character in this engaging and educational picture book is a young child with complex communication needs that uses a communication device to express his communication needs. Through the use of his talker, he is able to communicate with all of his new Bluebee Pal friends. With his communication system, he is able to tell them how to get back to his Rainbow School, where his class and teacher are waiting.
Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers is not just a story about an adventure, it’s also an opportunity to discuss diverse learning styles as well communicating through augmentative and alternative communication. Children will learn more about their own Bluebee Pal and have an extra special connection with them after reading the story.
Educators, therapists and parents will find this book easy to implement with their child or student!
What does it include?
The ebook and paperback will include the following:
Repeated lines and vocabulary suggestions to make it easy for parents and educators to program vocabulary in their child’s talkers before reading the book.
A free teachers guide that aligns with the common core curriculum.
Free printable visuals to be used while reading the book as well as used for recall and comprehension.
Suggested communication and educational goals to target with the book.
Are you interested in a printed book?Goals such as increased communication, vocabulary expansion, sequencing, literacy expansion, answering “wh” questions, turn taking, and commenting are just a few goals to target when reading this book with your child or student. Stay tuned!
“Literacy is a process by which one expands one’s knowledge of reading and writing in order to develop one’s thinking and learning for the purpose of understanding oneself and the world. This process is fundamental to achieving competence in every educational subject…literacy is a necessary foundation for educational achievement.” Enclopedia.com
Literacy involves spoken and written language skills and the ability to read and write. It’s never too early to start getting your child involved with literacy activities. There are lots of fun opportunities to support early literacy development. Talking, singing, creative play, playing sound, letter, and word games, reading, writing, and playing educational games with your child are great ways to set up a good literacy foundation.
You don’t need lots of time for literacy activities. Just a few minutes a day can make a big impact! The key is to use different times and engaging opportunities to help your child learn.
10 Simple Ways To Engage, Play And Teach Your Child!
*Literacy Sensory Bins– Sensory Bins are simple to make and are absolutely guaranteed to capture a child’s interest. Find a sturdy container (a clear plastic bin with a lid works great). Add some sensory filler such as dried peas, rice, packing peanuts, cotton balls, fake grass, leaves, etc. For a Matching Letters and Sounds bin, use an assortment of plastic upper and lower case letters, letter flash cards, object picture cards, and/or mini objects to match letter sounds you are working on. Give your child a letter of the alphabet (written on a card) and have them find all the letters in the bin that match that letter. Then ask them to find objects and pictures of things that begin with that sound.
For extreme fun, use a set of Alphabots transformer letters in the bin!
For extra sensory play and learning, use Play-Doh and letter stamps.
*Play-Doh– Help your child make numbers and letters out of Play-Doh. Use it to spell simple words and your child’s name. Use alphabet and letter stamps and cookie cutters to press out letters and words. Play-Doh offers several fun activity sets for letters and sounds.
*LEGOs- Kids Love LEGOs! Let your child practice making alphabet letters by giving them a sheet of paper with a letter drawn on it. Have your child use LEGO bricks to outline the letter. Next, see if they can make each letter and spell their name using their LEGOs. LEGO makes a LEGO DUPLO Play with Letters Set to support early literacy.
*Books– Use alphabet books to teach letters and have your child point out the words that begin with each letter. Read books with rhyming and repetition. Examples: The Cat in the Hat, There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake, Nothing Rhymes With Orange, Jamberry. Show your child how to hold a book and help turn the pages. Touch the words as you read together, and discuss the characters and the story. Ask questions about what you read together. Talk about the pictures and what is happening in each one. Bluebee Pals are super motivational tools to engage your child in digital books!
*Nursery Rhymes and Songs– A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words. Nursery rhymes teach your child language, vocabulary, rhyme, repetition and rhythm. Rhyming is a precursor for early literacy skills. Sing nursery rhymes to play with words and sounds. Example: Humpty Dumpty, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; The Alphabet Song; Three Little Kittens.
*I Spy– Help your child learn to recognize and listen for sounds. Example: “I spy with my little eye something that begins with s-s-s. What do you think I see that starts with that sound?” You can also play I Spy with books by asking your child to find sounds on the pages and in words. Example: “Can you touch all the f letters or words with f on this page?” For language, Play I Spy in the grocery store, too! Example: “I spy a yellow fruit“ or “I Spy something sweet” or “I Spy something that is crunchy”.
*Puppets– Puppets are great to use for oral language development with preschoolers. Use puppets to tell or re-tell a story, ask questions, and take turns to engage in conversations. Puppets are easily found at Dollar Stores.
*Pretend Play– Children love to role play and play-pretend! These activities offer rich learning opportunities. You can set up a shop, your own restaurant, Doctor’s office, Vet office or school classroom and have creative fun! Children can make signs, forms, lists and menus and have fun while playing with literacy. Play-Doh has learning sets which are excellent for encouraging pretend play. Sets include kitchen, barber shop, dentist, sweet shop, and more.
*Treasure Hunt- Have a Letter Treasure Hunt by hiding alphabet cards or letters around the house. Tell your child a letter sound to look for and have your child say the letter, say the sound it makes, find it and bring it to you. Have your child find something at home that starts with that letter.
*Educational Games– Games are great fun for early learning and literacy as they involve oral language, conversation, vocabulary, sharing, following directions, Wh-questions, turn-taking, and much more. If you can find literacy based games that is even better. Children love playing games with their parents and peers!
Examples: Go Fish; Old Maid, Candyland; Peaceable Kingdom Alphabet Bingo! Letter Learning Game for Kids; I Spy Dig In; BOHS Literacy Wiz Fun Game; Carson-Dellosa Publishing Time to Rhyme; The Learning Journey: Match It! Bingo – Picture Word – Reading Game for Preschool and Kindergarten; Learning Resources Alphabet Soup Sorters; and Magnetic Alphabet Letters And Numbers. https://www.bluebeepals.com/apps-bluebee-pals/
Literacy, even more ideas, please visit the following sites:
Melissa Stark – Special Education Teacher-New York, NY
As a special education teacher, you are always looking for ways to help increase your students love of learning. At the ISTE Conference( International Society for Technology in Education) in June 2019, I presented on Technologically Applying the Communication Bill of Rights to All Learners. Giving all students a voice should be a goal for us all. While walking the conference floor, I had the chance to find Bluebee Pals. As summer school was approaching I decided to give it a try and buy one for my classroom.
Bluebee has made learning fun and age-appropriate for my students. I love that my students AAC devices can be modeled through Bluebee. I also love that my students can read books or share items they completed for classwork on Bluebee. Bluebee gives my students that voice. They integrate with so many different apps and programs. I also love that Bluebee has its own individual app that focuses on life skills such as what do you do in different places in your home (i.e., kitchen, bathroom). I am so happy to have found Bluebee and cannot wait to continue using it in my classroom. http://frontandcentral.com/k-12-trends/technology-changing-special-education-classroom/
Special Education Teacher – Boston, MA
Meeting founder Laura Jiencke at the 2019 ISTE show and getting to see the Bluebee Pals and how the work was truly the highlight of my experience at ISTE! Winning the raffle was extra special, and I can’t wait to introduce Lily Lamb to my students when school starts in September!
The Bluebee Pal Website is fantastic, the home page is bright, inviting and uncluttered, and the tutorial videos and PDFs are really helpful. I would truly love to see the speech, O.T., and other Early Childhood teachers in Boston Public Schools using the Bluebee Pals with a wide range of our special needs populations. I plan to meet with Laura Jiencke at our school and brainstorm together how we can make this happen.
My main focus on teaching is implementing curriculum and supporting learning in all areas of the new school year. I’ve always had technology in my classroom, and I’m really excited to introduce and have my students use the Bluebee Pals! I will definitely keep track of the Bluebee Pals app and third party apps and other ways I use Bluebee Pals in the classroom. https://www.bluebeepals.com
Classrooms with Bluebee Pals Programs!
Bluebee Pals can be utilized for various early learners populations (special needs – developmental delay, Speech, O.T., bilingual, social/ emotional)
The Bluebee Pals Website provides Prek-3 curriculum and professional development information for teachers.
The Bluebee App has interactive games focusing on social-emotional, literacy, and math
The New Techie Rangers Children’s E-Book Includes a 61 Page Free Activity Guide
Bluebee Pals easily connect to storybook apps via Bluetooth to make storytelling come to life! Your Bluebee Pal will “read” any connected story, with natural head and mouth movements! Children become immediately more engaged and attentive!..https://www.bluebeepals.com
The Perfect Reading Match! Bluebee Pals and Epic Books
Reading to a child daily helps develop vocabulary, attending, sentence construction, grammar, pronoun usage, social-skills, turn-taking, imagination, creativity, sequential thought, emotions, wh-questions, comprehension, receptive/expressive language skills, critical thinking and problem solving, and so much more! Reading to young children is one of the most language rich and meaningful learning opportunities that parents (and educators) can give their children. Many natural educational interactions occur while reading by talking about the subject matter, elements of the story, questioning about the story, and through practicing story retelling.
Epic! -Kid’s Books and Videos by Epic Creations Inc. is a wonderful digital library for children ages 12 and under.With instant, unlimited access to 35,000 high-quality ebooks, audiobooks, learning videos and quizzes, kids can learn, explore their interests and develop a love of reading! https://apps.apple.com/us/app/epic-kids-books-and-videos/id719219382
“Epic!’s award-winning service includes a wide variety of high-quality books and learning videos from leading publishers like Scholastic, National Geographic, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Smithsonian and many more…Epic! has been called the “Netflix of kids’ books”- it’s an unlimited library your kids can take anywhere!”
The library contains well-known books and series, such as Pete the Cat, Fancy Nancy, Biscuit, National Geographic Kids, Clifford and lots more! It offers picture books, chapter books, early readers, audiobooks, and videos. It even includes Spanish and Chinese books.
App key features include:
35,000 books and learning videos with hundreds more added weekly
Personalized recommendations for each child based on their reading level and interests
Online and offline reading (you can save books to read offline)
A reading log to track reading progress
Access to Epic! on almost any device
Includes comprehension quizzes and learning videos
FREE for elementary school teachers!!!
After a 30 day free trial, it is $7.99 a month for parents
Users can easily search according to interests
Highlighted text option
Filter books by reader age, AR Level, Lexile Measure, fiction and non fiction
Pairs easily with Bluebee Pals!
*Paired together, Bluebee Pals and Epic: Motivational Reading Tools
*Set aside daily time reading time. Find somewhere quiet without any distractions.
*Let the Child Pick the Book! One excellent way to get young children involved in the reading aloud process is to allow them to select the book you read.
*Don’t Be Afraid of Wordless Picture Books!When reading a wordless picture book, ask the children questions such as:
• What do you think is happening here? (comprehension)
• What makes you think that? (inferring)
• What do you think will happen next? (predicting)
• Why? (vocabulary and oral language)
*Start Small. The younger the child the shorter the attention span.
In the beginning, choose shorter books or books that are not too text-heavy. Then, as you notice their attention spans getting longer, you can start reading longer books.
*Read It Again! Reading the same book multiple times can really help children develop language skills and improve reading comprehension.
*Read Aloud to Big Kids, too! Reading aloud isn’t just for young children who can’t read on their own yet. Kids usually listen on a higher level than they read.
*Explain Some New Words.Explain a few of the words your children may not have heard before – no more than half. Each time you re-read the book, you can explain different new words to build vocabulary.
*Point to the pictures and encourage your child to talk about the book. Talking about the characters and their situations helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues.
*Give your child plenty of response time. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
*Relate the story or illustrations to something your child knows. This will help them make connections to their own life experiences.
￼*Above all else…make reading fun and enjoy the time together with your child!
Bluebee Pal is a plush educational learning tool that can be connected to a tablet, phone or computer via Bluetooth. Once connected to a device (such as an iPhone or iPad), this interactive educational tool can talk, read and sing. As an app reviewer for Bluebee Pals for the past four years, I have discovered countless ways of utilizing Bluebee Pal Assistive Technology Tools in AAC Therapy to meet speech and language goals with my clients that present complex communication needs. To see my app reviews on Bluebee Pal’s website, click here (https://www.bluebeepals.com/beccas-app-reviews/).
In order to meet these goals below, you would need two different devices. One device that is connected to Bluebee Pal via Bluetooth and one that has a communication system installed, whether dedicated or non-dedicated for your student. As an SLP that has specialized in the field of AAC of the past 18 years, I generally target multiple goals during a variety of activities. In this article, I want to share how to use Bluebee Pal to meet AAC goals in both the therapy and in the classroom.
Ten AAC Goals Achieved with Bluebee Pals
Reading a Story: Since Bluebee Pal is connected to your device, this tool can read any book to your student that is downloaded on an app or available online. When reading the story, pause, ask questions and encourage your student to comment via their AAC system. Listening to Bluebee Pal read the story can be engaging and exciting for a child, which can help meet your goals more readily. Some of my favorite story apps include Go Away Green Monster and Crepes for Suzette. I also like the story time apps One More Story and Storybots. For more suggestions of story time apps, check out my article here (http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2016/08/18/5-excellent-storytelling-apps-for-kids-with-special-needs/)
Improving Choice Making: During an AAC evaluation or training present Bluebee as a choice for requesting. With the child’s communication device, they can work on creating sentences and use describing words to request Bluebee. This would be a great opportunity to create the sentence, “I want soft Zebra”, or “I want blue puppy”. For those children who want to figure out how to say Bluebee without it being programmed, navigate to colors for “blue” and then the “bugs” page for bee. Combine to say Bluebee! Other ways that a child can make choices is within the app itself. The child can request specific sounds within a soundboard app like in the picture below. This is a wonderful opportunity for creative and complex sentences that can be modeled and then communicated by the child
Answer “wh”Questions: This is often a common goal that appears on IEPs and lesson plans. Use Bluebee pal to ask questions in the app About You and Me by Super Duper Publications. Responding to Bluebee pal can increase motivation and engagement among students. This can also help the student practice answering “wh” questions about themselves.
Social Story Companion: Social stories are commonplace in special education classroom because they help meet a variety of both social and communication goals. Use an app such as Pictello and let Bluebee read the social story with your student.
Pretend Play: Bluebee Pal is perfect for dramatic play! Since Bluebee is a stuffed animal, he can participate in lots of different play from dress up to be at a tea party! There are a variety of ways that you can incorporate Bluebee into dramatic play. Bluebee can start conversations with your student via being connected to a communication app or provide the voice and music in the app such as Toca Boca Tea Party.
Use for AAC Assessment: The app that I use often for assessment is AAC Genie. With Bluebee connected, this tool can help with assessment. Let this educational tool guide your student through the protocol which can help keep the child motivated during the evaluation. For a more in-depth look at how to use Bluebee with AAC genie, click here (https://www.bluebeepals.com/app-reviews/make-aac-assessment-interactive-bluebee-pal-pro/)
Learn Phonics: Learning phonics and literacy is the key to communication. With the app, Phonics you can expose your student to exploring phonics. Another way is using the phonic keyboard on Touch Chat with Word Power during a literacy activity. Let Bluebee Pal answer the question, “What does the letter “a” sound like?”
Categorization: Working on categorization is another common goal to target during speech and language therapy. When a child can learn categories more readily, this can help speed up communication and expand vocabulary. It can also help with improving word association. With one app that I reviewed called Categories Therapy Lite, Bluebee Pal can help a child learn categories. To learn more about learning categories with Bluebee Pal, click on the app review here (https://www.bluebeepals.com/app-reviews/beccas-app-reviews/category-therapy-lite-bluebee-pals/).
Learning Actions: Learn actions with the app, Actions in Video. This app can help students combine symbols together into sentences focused on actions. At the end of the sentence, hear Bluebee Pal say the whole sentence or record your own voice. To practice on their AAC system, ask them to construct the same sentences on their AAC system with modeling and prompting as needed.
Turn-Taking in Conversation: Bluebee Is a perfect companion for practicing taking turns in conversation. This can be done with a Bluebee connected to an iPad with a communication app or within an app such as Elmo Calls. For more tips on how to use Elmo Calls with Bluebee, check out my review here (https://www.bluebeepals.com/app-reviews/beccas-app-reviews/phone-calls-elmo/).
According to ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association), “Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an area of clinical practice that addresses the needs of individuals with significant and complex communication disorders characterized by impairments in speech-language production and/or comprehension, including spoken and written modes of communication. AAC uses a variety of techniques and tools, including picture communication boards, line drawings, speech-generating devices (SGDs), tangible objects, manual signs, gestures, and finger spelling, to help the individual express thoughts, wants and needs, feelings, and ideas. AAC is augmentative when used to supplement existing speech, and alternative when used in place of speech that is absent or not functional. AAC may be temporary, as when used by patients postoperatively in intensive care, or permanent, as when used by an individual who will require the use of some form of AAC throughout his or her lifetime.”
There has been incredible advancements since I began in the field of AAC in 1999. In 1999, there were speech generating devices available as well as Boardmaker, but color printers were still rare and those crayons and markers came in handy to color in communication boards! Now, coloring in symbols seems archaic compared to the amazing technology available today with the invention of the iPad and other tablets. The advancement in computers has also brought significant changes in the field with easier access to eye gaze and other access methods.
Many people that I meet that are not speech language pathologists and/or in the field of AAC, think the development of AAC began with iPads and other tablets but this can not be further from the truth! In this article, I am going to give you a brief overview of the history with excellent links to more information and articles on the topic.
How did AAC develop and when?
According to Gregg C. Vanderheiden, PhD (2002), “In plotting the course of early augmentative communication, it is important to follow three different threads of development. One is the development of early electromechanical communication and writing systems. The second is research on ordinary (without disability) child language development, and the third is communication and language boards. These three threads developed largely independently until the 60s and 70s, when they merged to form what we now know as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Computer access then evolved out of the interface portion of this work, particularly the thread dealing with human machine interface (with its roots in the conversation and writing machines).”
What was the first AAC device?
According to Gregg C. Vanderheiden, PhD (2002), “Perhaps the earliest electric communication device was the POSM (Patient Operated Selector Mechanism), a sip-and-puff typewriter controller first prototyped by Reg Maling in 1960 (one of several he eventually created) Reg was a volunteer visitor at Stoke Manderville hospital (for paralyzed people) and noticed that they had only a bell to communicate with. This inspired him to develop the very first POSM for them. A Communications System for the Handicapped (Comhandi) was developed in 1964, consisting of a scanning teletypewriter controller with an illuminated display.”
Who is eligible for AAC?
When I teach my graduate class, I always review the “zero reject model”, which means that no one is ever rejected for communication based on their cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Anyone with complex communication needs are eligible for AAC. In my career as a speech language pathologist in the field of AAC, I have evaluated and trained both children and adults with Congenital disorders (disorders that children are born with such as Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome), Acquired Disorders (e.g. disorders that are acquired after birth such as Muscular Dystrophy, Traumatic Brain Injury), Degenerative Disorders (e.g. such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers, etc.), and Temporary Conditions (e.g. such a someone in the hospital who can’t temporarily communicate). https://www.bluebeepals.com/beccas-app-reviews/
Do you want to learn more about AAC? Learn more about it here.
School – it is a given in most children’s lives in the US. Just out of diapers our kids begin preschool at least a few days a week by 3 years of age. With the onset of Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) programs, access to affordable and free early learning has increased. Early education prepares kids for the many years of schooling to come. Elementary, middle and high school follow– ensuring all children are provided the knowledge and skills needed within their K-12 education careers.
Many children who are hospitalized are “invisible by the broader field of education” according to Dr. Megan Nickels, Faculty Director of the University of Central Florida’s PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital. The PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital tackles this problem head-on. It is the world’s first hospital-based school program that ensures children fighting for their health are not forced to lose valuable education. The program provides research-backed educational opportunities daily through the use of virtual reality, robotics and avatars. https://pedsacademy.org
Education Integrated PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital
The PedsAcademy partners with the University of Central Florida (UCF) bringing 54 affiliated faculty and students to run the school program. Pre-service elementary educators teach students daily in the hospital setting (right in their hospital room if needed!) under the supervision of Dr. Nickels and her team. UCF students from all colleges, including the School of Social Work, are provided an opportunity to work with the students at the academy providing a unique and valuable pre-service experience.
Joining the pack of technology-based intervention are our very own Bluebee Pals! We are proud to announce that the PedsAcademy is now a Bluebee Pals Project donation site. The Bluebee Pals are helping these resilient students learn through book reading and engagement with academic apps! Four students at the PedsAcademy have recently been gifted their Bluebee Pals and will take them along when they are able return home! Thanks to Bluebee Pals and the PedsAcademy for partnering to ensure access to education no matter the challenges a student faces! https://www.bluebeepals.com/#
Technology and media are educational tools that are effective only when used appropriately. A joint statement issued by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College indicates that technology and interactive media are here to stay. “Young children live in a world of interactive media. They are growing up at ease with digital devices that are rapidly becoming the tools of the culture at home, at school, at work, and in the community. When used wisely, technology and media can support learning and relationships. Enjoyable and engaging shared experiences that optimize the potential for children’s learning and development can support children’s relationships both with adults and their peers. There has never been a more important time to apply principles of development and learning when considering the use of cutting-edge technologies and new media. When the integration of technology and interactive media in early childhood programs is built upon solid developmental foundations, and early childhood professionals are aware of both the challenges and the opportunities, educators are positioned to improve program quality by intentionally leveraging the potential of technology and media for the benefit of every child”.
What Does Effective Use of Early Childhood Technology Look Like?
It has a point and is intentional. Early childhood educators should be informed and selective when choosing technology to be implemented within their program, taking into consideration child development and effective practices. As educators strive to be intentional with technology implementation, the question needs to be asked, “Can the learning goals be achieved more easily using traditional classroom materials or does use of a particular technology extend learning and development in ways not possible otherwise?”
It is interactive, engaging, and empowering. Technology implementation in early childhood doesn’t mean plopping kids down in front of a computer to zone out for long periods of time. In fact, early childhood educators should avoid passive non-interactive technology. Instead, by putting interactive and engaging technology in the hands of children and their educators, we are empowering them and giving them exciting new opportunities to learn from the world around them.
It is a piece of the complete overall learning experience. Developmentally appropriate technology should be only a piece of the overall learning experience and should not replace excellent traditional activities. Children use their senses to learn about the world around them, and they learn in a multitude of styles. Interactive and engaging technology can reach kinesthetic, auditory and visual learners simultaneously and can enrich the overall learning experience.
Educational technology tools that can engage little learners in a BIG way:
Square Panda Phonics Multisensory Sight, Touch, and Sound Playset for Kids Learning to Read:
The Square Panda playset helps children ages 2-8 learn to read through fun games grounded in research and uses a multisensory approach, combining sight, touch and sound in each play experience.
The system includes a playset, which doubles as a storage tray, 45 smart letters and access to a library of 11 free learning games. The playset works in tandem with your own tablet.
Square Panda provides access to a customizable database that stores children’s words, pictures, milestones and learning progress.
Learning games are available free to download on the App Store and Google Play Store and include Letter Lab, Square Land, Bowling, Jiggity Jamble, Bubbles, Space Cows, Fishing, Letter Lullaby, Farming, Lagoon, and Monster Rhymes.
Targeted concepts include learning the alphabet, learning letter sounds, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, word construction, reading fluency, rhyming words, word families, and more.
Osmois a unique educational gaming accessory that opens up your tablet to the infinite possibilities of physical play. Osmo’s advanced reflective technology bridges the real and digital realms. Osmo’s games are geared toward embodied learning, meaning the games teach abstract concepts by connecting them to objects and actions in the physical world.
Osmo offers games and apps for a wide range of academic subjects, including:
Coding (Coding Awbie, Coding Jam, Coding Duo)
Math (Numbers, Pizza Co.)
Drawing (Monster, Super Studio, Masterpiece)
Fundamentals of Physics (Newton)
Spatial relational skills (Tangram)
World geography (Detective Agency)
Pre-reading, storytelling, fine motor (Little Genius Starter Kit)
In addition to teaching traditional subject matter, Osmo games foster social-emotional skills like problem-solving, creativity and perseverance.
Osmo games are designed for ages 3–12, according to game.
Wonder Workshop provides a fun way for children to learn fundamental coding skills through robotics with a family of award-winning robots and age-appropriate apps, which encourage hands-on play and learning to develop creativity, problem-solving skills and imagination. Their tailored activities promote STEM learning with personable robots (Dash, Dot, and Cue), accessories, and free software for your mobile devices designed specifically for kids ages 6+. There is a growing library of in-app puzzles, standards-based lesson plans, and annual robotics challenges. They offer professional learning opportunities that encourage a meaningful shift towards establishing a foundation for 21st-century learning.
Learning Resources Programmable Mouse STEM Activity Set brings the “hour of code” to life with this amazing programmable robot. Guide the mouse through a fully customizable maze with step by step programming. Connect the maze tiles to build an activity board. Ages 4+.
This coding set for kids turns coding into a hands-on analog activity for tactile and visual learners
As kids learn to program they build key skills that include critical thinking, problem solving, sequencing, and programming fundamentals.
Colby the Mouse lights-up, makes sounds, and features 2 speeds along with colorful buttons to match coding activity cards for easy programming and sequencing.
This coding set includes 16 maze grids, 22 maze walls, 3 tunnels, 30 double-sided coding cards, 10 double-sided activity cards, cheese wedge, and activity guide to provide a hands-on introduction to coding concepts.
A great hands-on tool to keep young children actively engaged in learning about coding.
Bluebee PalPro4.0 is an interactive plush learning tool with a FREE companion (life skills /educational) app that connects to all iOS and Android Devices and pairs with all apps with a narrative. The patented technology allows Bluebee’s “mouth and head” to move while reading stories, teaching through educational games, communicating through speech/AAC apps, learning a language and singing songs. The Bluebee Pals Learning App is a robust life skill and cognitive development tool for children ages 3 to 7. When connected to a Bluebee Pal, children can immerse themselves in activities in five life skills rooms and play 9 educational mini-games. In addition to their app, Bluebee Pals pair with all apps with a narrative providing endless entertainment and education for all mainstream and special needs children.
Bluebee is compatible with all apps with a narrative.
Bluebee inspires learning with educational apps.
Bluebee reads any storybook apps.
Bluebee teaches with language and AAC (alternative augmentative communication).
Bluebee sings with your favorite music apps.
Bluebee acts as an educational tool with voice recording apps.
Laura Jiencke, Bluebee Pal creator is at it again – making meaningful connections with educators everywhere she goes! She recently attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2019 conference in Philadelphia and met Melissa Stark, a special education PreK teacher in New York City.
“As a special education teacher, you are always looking for ways to help increase your student’s love of learning. At ISTE in June 2019, I presented on Technologically Applying the Communication Bill of Rights toAll Learners. Giving all students a voice should be a goal for us all. While walking the conference floor, I had the chance to find Bluebee. As summer school was approaching I decided to give it a try and buy one for my classroom. “ – Melissa Stark
She hit the ground running and began using her Bluebee Pall in the classroom right away! “I love that my student’s AAC devices can be modeled through Bluebee. I also love that my students can read books or share items they completed for classwork on Bluebee. Bluebee gives my students that voice. They integrate with so many different apps and programs. I also love that Bluebee has its own individual app that focuses on life skills such as what you do in different places in your home (i.e., kitchen, bathroom). I am so happy to have found Bluebee and cannot wait to continue using it in my classroom!” https://www.schools.nyc.gov/special-education/school-settings/district-75
7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit.
Melissa’s desire to share Bluebee Pals with her entire district lead her to suggest they make an appearance at the 7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit. The Bluebee Pals were out in full force at the NYC Tech Summit where over 1,200 leaders, technology staff and teachers learn about the district’s latest technology plans and priorities. As the largest school system in the nation, the NYC Department of has a budget of nearly $500 million and serves over 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools. Solutions, such as the Bluebee Pals plush educational technology tool, were on full display allowing technology and education enthusiasts immerse themselves in the lasts technology for their students! https://www.bluebeepals.com/special-needs/
Many thanks to Melissa Stark – an exceptional teacher serving exceptional students in NYC! Keep on helping kids find their voices!
The founder of Bluebee Pals, Laura Jiencke, donated through the Bluebee Pal Project,a Bluebee Family Pack of Interactive Educational Plush Learning tools and three iPads to the Southampton Day Care Center (SDCC) in Southampton, NY.
As many of you know the Bluebee Pals connect to any Apple or IOS Device and pair with most apps and are a multifaceted learning tool. It now has extensive curriculum available on Google Workbench designed by the experts on the Bluebee Team. The lessons include Essential Life Skills, which are defined as behaviors that enable individuals to adapt and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. As well as STEM/ELA, ESL, as well as ACC support for children with special needs and more.https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-project-participants/
Educational Technology in Day Care
This was the daycare’s first introduction to any kind of educational technology in their classrooms. A sad state of affairs in 2019 and in such an affluent area of the world! Often people are not able to look beyond their own backyard to see what is going on in their community and this oversight seems to be more prevalent in resort areas. Fortunately for us, we had the newly elected mayor of Southampton participating in this event and hope this will raise awareness and encourage others to get involved with SDCC, esp. philanthropists with an interest in education
The educators at the daycare center will be assisted with ongoing professional development designed by the Bluebee Pal team to help them with this new approach to learning. The Southampton Day Care Center Director was most appreciative of the generous contribution, and the children were beyond thrilled! The BEST part, they will be all the more ready to begin school. (More on getting ready for school here)
Written by Jayne Clare: Jayne Clare is dedicated to being in the forefront of the ever-changing digital landscape. She has been working directly with students and startups and recognizing what works and what doesn’t, along with the why behind both. Jayne co-founded Teachers With Apps in 2011.
What are Life Skills? Life skills are behaviors that enable individuals to adapt and deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. In terms of early development, these are often called “learning to learn skills” which can be developed through intentional activities.
There are many such skills, but core life skills, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) include the following:
Coping with stress
Coping with emotion
The Bluebee Pals app is a fun and easy way to begin working on many of these skills with young children. Children learn best through play!
In the Bluebee Pals app, there are 5 colorful and interactive rooms to explore with your child. By talking about, asking questions, and encouraging free play, you can focus on and reinforce many early learning and life skills. https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-app/
Bedroom: Discuss bedtime routines with your child. What routines do you have? What do you wear to bed? Talk about things that are found in a bedroom (vocabulary, categorization skills), practice listening, choose your favorite color, and learn the meaning of “on/off”. Ask the child to describe his/her own bedroom.
Bathroom: Discuss your bathroom routines. Practice listening and following instructions, practice brushing teeth, talk about washing hands, learn to recognize hot/cold water, on/off, and categorize things that are found in a bathroom.
Kitchen: Discuss things that are found in a kitchen. Do you see something in the Bluebee kitchen that you have in your kitchen (critical thinking). Discuss recycling, follow directions, name foods and categorize them. What are your favorite kinds of foods? What vegetables are green? Yellow? Red?
Living room: What kinds of things are found in a living room? Name the things in the Bluebee living room. What is in your living room? What kinds of things can you do in your living room? How can you help your parents keep the living room tidy?
Playroom: The playroom contains mini-games for free play. Tap on an item in the room to play an educational game.
Balloons: Match colors to foods, talk about different types of food groups and categorize fruits vs vegetables.
Robot. Practice sequencing, critical thinking, following directions and problem solving skills while building a robot.
Voice recorder: Listen and follow directions to learn to use a microphone to record your own voice, or Bluebee Pal. Use problem solving skills to learn how to record and listen to the sounds around you. Can you talk in a happy voice? In a sad voice? In a soft voice?
Truck: Name the kinds of trucks you see as you slide them around the racetrack. Which one is the smallest? The largest? Can you put them in order from smallest to largest?
Ice cream truck: Seek and find the hidden Bluebee Pals on their island, then match them to their chairs on the beach. Can you name all of the Bluebee Pals? Can you match them to their names?
Puzzle: Complete a 6 piece Bear puzzle (problem-solving, critical thinking).
Construction hat: Dress up your favorite Bluebee Pal and talk about the different occupations they represent. What would you like to be when you grow up? What jobs do your parents do?
Maze: Practice thinking and problem solving skills as you complete a maze. How many ways are there to get out?
White board: Practice naming the letters of the alphabet and their order. What can you name that starts with the letter D? What letters are in your name?
Tips—When working with your child and the Bluebee Pal app, focus on the following areas to maximize language and learning skills:
Talk about grouping similar items into categories
Assist your child in following directions
For literacy skills, help your child learn to recognize sounds and letters
Talk about daily living skills and routines including hygiene, cooking, cleaning, brushing teeth, bath time, and bed time.
Find action words and talk about them. Make a sentence with action words such as playing, brushing, sleeping, bathing, washing.
Talk about the items in each room and what they are used for to build vocabulary skills.
Practice sequencing the tasks in the app, such as taking a bath, brushing your teeth, getting ready for bed.
Talk about how your child feels when it is time to eat, time to take a bath, time to clean up, or time for bed.
Practice negation while you are working with your child, such as “Don’t forget to turn off the light” or “Don’t forget to brush his teeth all the way”. Which foods are not red? What things do not belong in the kitchen?
Ask questions to improve inferencing skills, such as “How do you think he got so dirty? or What do you think he likes to eat for lunch”?
Music is a magical tool while working with children having speech and language difficulties! Music therapy is a well-established technique for using musical interaction to help individuals with a wide range of cognitive and emotional challenges to improve their ability to function. By interacting with those on the autism spectrum, the use of music can build skills, lower anxiety, and even develop new communication skills.
What is music therapy? According to the American Music Therapy Association: Music therapy is an evidence-based, allied health profession that uses music interventions to accomplish individualized goals. Through musical responses, a board-certified music therapist assesses emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills. Specifically regarding communication, music therapists are trained to adapt elements of music to promote effective expressive and receptive communication skills. Music interventions focus on enhancing social, communicative, motor/sensory, emotional, behavior, and academic/cognitive functioning.
*A speech language pathologist and qualified musical therapist can work alongside each other collaboratively to build individuals’ skills.
Advantages of Music Therapy:
Communication: Music can aid in speech development and production, and is a perfect medium to encourage and aid in non-verbal communication, too.
Multi sensory: Musical interventions engage multiple senses and appeal to sensory strengths and needs.
Whole Brain Processing: Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain; therefore, when engaged in musical tasks, many regions of the brain are stimulated simultaneously. The use of music supports mental, emotional and cognitive development. Kids with Autism can benefit significantly from this form of therapy.
Socialization: Musical intervention goes hand in hand with social skills. Turn taking, peer interactions, following directions and engagement can be supported by music. Music therapy helps autistic children learn to relate to us and to others.
Improves Behavior: Restlessness, aggression and throwing tantrums can be reduced through the use of music. Music helps remove various mental blocks, as well as stress and anxiety levels. As the same music is played in a repetitive as well as in a prolonged manner, this can bring about significant changes in social behavior and overall cognitive ability.
Music is Fun: Music is fun, safe, appealing, motivational, and enjoyable! This makes it perfect for therapy. It is fun and engaging for kids with autism to listen and learn through music. Because music is motivating and engaging, it may be used as a natural “reinforcer” for desired responses.
Music therapy is research-based:
Music therapy interventions are informed by research evidence and incorporate many of the identified ASD-specific evidence-based practices.
Music therapy services for young children with ASD are very effective for improving communication, interpersonal skills, personal responsibility, and play.
Music therapy interventions may elicit joint attention; enhance auditory processing, other sensory-motor, perceptual/motor, or gross/fine motor skills and identify and appropriately express emotions.
Music therapy interventions based on family-centered practice may increase social engagement in the home environment and community.
Music therapy interventions using musically adapted social stories may modify target behavior and teach new skills.
Bluebee Pals and Music in Speech Therapy: Working in collaboration with a music therapist, Bluebee Pals are a great tool to use when incorporating music into speech therapy to address communication skills. Use one-on-one or invite a Bluebee Pal into peer groups to practice skills. Paired with musical and rhyming apps and videos, Bluebee Pals offer children a special learning friend who makes communication skills practice fun…and therefore, more meaningful. By “speaking and singing” the audio in connected apps, a Bluebee Pal adds just the right touch of warmth and humanity to motivate children. Just connect your Bluebee Pal and get started!https://www.bluebeepals.com/blogs/
Some suggested apps and resources to get you started:
Toddlers Nursery Rhymes Bundle- Kids Songs Collection by PlaneTree Family Productions
Announcing a new partnership with The Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida (DSACF)! DSACF is an accredited not-for-profit association founded in 1991 by parents of children with Down syndrome that serves over 1,200 individuals with Down syndrome and their families over 10 counties. DSACF offers a starting point for new or expectant parents as well as “programs for every age and stage” including adulthood. In addition, they provide support groups, host fundraising events and provide legal support.
Bluebee Pals have partnered with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida with support of their acting interim executive director, Amy Drow. Amy has “always loved kiddos with something a little extra since her older brother is blessed with Down syndrome!”. She was eager to include the DSACF in the Bluebee Pals Project and add the pals to their lending library. The lending library houses items and resources available to their members for FREE. We had a grand time demonstrating the many ways Bluebee Pals could benefit those with Down syndrome. https://www.dsacf.org
Individuals with Down syndrome have many special talents as well as a specific areas of needs. Bluebee Pals and it’s accompanying Bluebee Pals app are a perfect tool for increasing these skills. See the chart below for skill areas paired with Bluebee Pals activities! Simply download the app suggested app and use the Bluetooth connection on your device to pair your Bluebee Pal! https://www.bluebeepals.com
Communication and Cognitive Skills with Down Syndrome Children
Bluebee Pals App
Wh? By Autism iHelp
Splingo’s Therapy Bundle
WH Question Cards
Fun Deck Following Directions
Things That Go Together
Listen to Bluebee Pals name, read and ask questions to increase vocabulary, following directions and basic concept skills. Use text-to-speech app to help Bluebee talk, ask questions, make comments and more!
Minimal Pairs for Speech
Listen to Bluebee articulate target sounds and practice your sounds too!
iSequences Therapeutic Functional Skills
Let Bluebee Pal read you social stories and teach you social skills with these functional apps!
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Bluebee Pals App
Physical Therapy for Kids
AIMS Improving Motor Skills
Increase fine motor skills by engaging with fine motor/handwriting and gross motor apps. Use text-to-speech apps to help Bluebee give directions for fine motor and gross motor activities!
Bluebee Pals App
Let Bluebee Pal teach you letters, numbers, spelling and more by connecting Bluebee to these learning apps!
Daily Living Skills
Bluebee Pals App – Bathroom
My Play Home
Help Bluebee with daily living skills such as showering and brushing teeth!
Life skills have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Skills that function for well-being and aid individuals to develop into active and productive members of their communities are considered as life skills. Educators are increasingly supporting the development of life skills, in addition to academics, in order to enable students to function effectively in society. Teachers sometimes describe these skills as “learning to learn skills” which can be developed through intentional daily activities.
Life skills go hand in hand with development and can help your child succeed later in life.
In the book, “Mind in the Making,” Ellen Galinsky, a leading authority on child development issues, organized the essential life skills that children need to be well-rounded, ready for school, and life.
What Are the Most Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn?
Focus And Self Control: Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibly and exercising self control. Children thrive onschedules, habits, and routines, which not only create a feeling of security, but also help children learn self-control and focus.
Perspective Taking: Perspective taking goes far beyond empathy in that it involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’, teachers’, and friends’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts. Thinking about another’s point of view doesn’t come naturally to most children, but it can be developed by making observations with children about how others are feeling.
Communication: Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing – it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. Children need to build healthy social-emotional skills, including the ability to understand and communicate with others. Children need to learn how to “read” social cues and listen carefully. They must consider what they want to communicate and the most effective way to share it.
Making Connections: Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting these things into categories. Making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. True learning occurs when we can see connections and patterns between seemingly disparate things. The more connections we make, the more sense and meaning we make of the world. Young children begin to see connections and patterns as they sort basic household items like toys and socks. Simple acts, such as choosing clothing appropriate for the weather, helps them build connections.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions, and actions. We live in a complex world in which adults are required to analyze information and make decisions about myriad things every day. One of the best ways to build critical thinking is through rich, open-ended play. Make sure your child has time each day to play alone or with friends. Through play, children formulate hypotheses, take risks, try out their ideas, make mistakes, and find solutions—all essential elements in building critical thinking.
Taking On Challenges: Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them do better in school and in life. One of the most important traits we can develop in life is that of resilience—being able to take on challenges, bounce back from failure, and keep trying. Children learn to take on challenges when we create an environment with the right amount of structure—not so much as to be limiting, but enough to make them feel safe. Encourage your child to try new things and allow reasonable risk, such as climbing a tree or riding a bike. Offer a new challenge when she seems ready.
Self-Directed, Engaged Learning: It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live—as long as we learn. A child who loves learning becomes an adult who is rarely bored in life. To encourage a love of learning, try to limit television and encourage plenty of reading, play, and open-ended exploration.
Bluebee Pals are excellent educational tools that can easily be incorporated in the classroom or at home to help model and build age-appropriate essential life skills. Use one-on-one or invite a Bluebee Pal into life skills learning or peer groups to practice skills. Paired with story books and educational apps, Bluebee Pals offer children a special learning friend who makes life skills practice fun…and therefore, more meaningful. By “speaking” the audio in connected apps, a Bluebee Pal adds just the right touch of warmth and humanity to motivate children. Just connect your Bluebee Pal and get started!https://www.bluebeepals.com
A few examples of apps that can be used to help develop essential life skills:
First Then Visual Schedule HD by Good Karma Applications, Inc allows you to create first-then boards, visual schedules, task analyses, social stories, choice boards, and video models, and even has a timer for task completion.
Peppy Pals Family Play Bundle by Peppy Pals AB is a set of three apps featuring engaging animal friends that enables children to learn and explore emotions in an relaxing, interactive environment while developing emotional intelligence.
Peppy Pals Social Skills by Peppy Pals AB features gender-neutral animals in story scenarios as they take care of each other and solve problems. Helps build social emotional skills such as self-esteem, resilience, empathy, problem-solving, managing emotions, managing stress, and creating healthy relationships.
10 Ways – a Social Skills Game by Everyday Speech LLC teaches through a familiar game format with categories of questions that include conversation skills, perspective taking, asking and answering questions, friendship skills, and more.
Categories Learning Center by Smarty Ears fosters categorization skills by sorting similar and dissimilar items, placing objects in the correct category, naming members of given categories and identifying which category name a group of objects belongs in.
Thinkrolls by AVOKIDDO is an addictive, award-winning logic, brain power, and problem solving app for kids that uses mazes to master the art of thinking. Provides for penalty-free and stress-free trial and error problem solving.
100% of students experience summer learning loss if they don’t engage in educational learning activities over the summer. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 25% of academic learning is lost by children over summer vacation.
Summer reading is critical forstudents to retain the knowledge and skills learned in the previous school year.Summer is an important time for students to keepreadingto improve their language and vocabulary skills. Students who don’t read are at risk of falling behind their classmates. Numerous studies indicate that students who don’t read or readinfrequently during their summer vacation see their reading abilities stagnate or decline.
The “Summer Slide” is the phrase used to describe this slidebackwards that many children make in reading skills over the summer months when school is not in session. Numerous studies show that kids who don’t read during summer vacation actually slip in reading ability an average of 2 months by the time autumn rolls around. It takes teachers 4-6 weeks to reteach material that has been lost over the summer.
*Classmates who continue reading move further ahead.
6 Benefits of Summer Reading
Improve Reading Skills.
Increase Desire to Read.
Neutralize Summer Learning Loss.
Improve Memory Skills.
You can combat summer slide by encouraging your child to devote 20 to 30 minutes each day to reading. Bluebee Pals are a great way to encourage summer reading! They make excellent reading buddies!https://www.bluebeepals.com/apps-bluebee-pals/
Suggested Apps Summer Reading:
Storyline Online by SAG-AFTRA Foundation is an award-winning children’s literacy app that features celebrated actors reading children’s books.
Epic! – Kids’ Books and Videos by Epic! Creations Inc is a leading digital library for kids with instant, unlimited access to 35,000 high-quality ebooks, audiobooks, learning videos and quizzes for children 12 and under. There is a monthly subscription plan for home and a free plan for educators.
HOMER Reading: Learn to Read by Homer is a personalized reading program for kids 2-8. This award-winning app has been proven to increase early reading scores by 74% with just 15 minutes a day. There is a monthly subscription plan for home, and a free plan for educators.
The Every School Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) is a federal law that calls for a well-rounded (whole child) education and a shifting away from the narrow focus on academics. Under ESSA, teachers go beyond academics to cultivate positive student attitudes, values, and habits. Inter- and intra-personal (or, “social and emotional”) competencies include attitudes and behaviors that affect how students reflect on and apply their learning capacities and skills relative to managing relationships with others. These skills are sometimes referred to as 21st century skills, deeper learning, non-academic, non-cognitive, or soft skills.
“Social and emotional learning(SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.“– The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
What are Social and Emotional Skills?
According to CASEL, Social and emotional skills are the tools both children and adults use in social interactions and to manage every day emotional responses. Things like social awareness, setting goals, and taking responsibility for oneself are imperative to maintaining healthy relationships and practicing self-care.
CASEL’s widely used framework identifies five core competencies that can educate hearts, inspire minds, and help students navigate the world more effectively:
Self-awareness: Know your strengths and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence, optimism, and a “growth mindset.”
Self-management: Effectively manage stress, control impulses, and motivate yourself to set and achieve goals.
Social awareness: Understand the perspectives of others and empathize with them, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Relationship skills: Communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed.
Responsible decision-making: Make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety, and social norms.
SEL programs improve students’ social-emotional skills, attitudes about self and others, connection to school, positive social behavior, and academic performance; they also reduce students’ conduct problems and emotional distress.
Bluebee Pals are excellent educational tools that can easily be incorporated in the classroom or at home to help model and build early social skills. Use one-on-one or invite a Bluebee Pal into social learning or peer groups to practice skills such as understanding and using appropriate emotions, sharing, turn-taking, asking and answering questions, making appropriate conversations, showing empathy, and more. Paired with educational apps, Bluebee Pals are perfectly suited to offer children a special learning friend who makes social skills practice fun…and therefore, more meaningful. By “speaking” the audio in connected apps, a Bluebee Pal adds just the right touch of warmth and humanity to motivate children. Just connect your Bluebee Pal and get started! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
Helps to develop the skills needed to boost memory, motor, and auditory processing skills with simple one step directions, two step complex commands, inclusion/exclusion, conditional and motor-skill based directions. Great for working on language, auditory processing, vocabulary, memory, receptive language, attention, and focus.
Teaches communication skills and models personal interactions, navigating the community, appropriate school behavior, handling change, and social relationships. Includes ready to use lessons and videos and enables users to create their own social lessons.
10 Ways – a Social Skills Game by Everyday Speech LLC
Grab a Bluebee Pal and have fun exploring these FREE educational apps with your children. There are oodles and oodles of educational videos, shows, games, goodies and activities to explore. There is something for everyone! Take plenty of time to explore your favorite PBS shows, videos, and games in this HUGE collection of activities! These apps contain safe, educational videos, games, and TV.
PBS KidsVideo- Watch all your favorite PBS Kids shows anytime, as well as live stream educational videos and shows to help your child learn and grow. There are new videos each week. Watch full episodes of Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why, Curious George, Odd Squad, and more! For ages 3-8.
PBS Kids Games- There are over 100 free school games for ages 2 through 8 for discovery, exploration and learning. The games focus on science, math, reading, and creativity. There are mazes, puzzles, coloring, dress-up, and more activities. Learn ABCs, shapes, reading, and math skills.
PBS Kids Measure Up! Children ages 2-5 learn early math concepts focused on length, width, capacity and weight while watching instructional videos and playing in Treetop City, Magma Peak, and Crystal Caves. There are 19 measuring games and 10 measurement videos. Kids collect rewards for activity completion.
Play and Learn Science by PBS This is a suite of 15 educational kids games to develop experimentation and early science skills. Learn core scientific concepts while developing problem solving skills. Help the thirsty dog get some water, dress-up for the correct weather, find out which objects will float, and more. Great for preschool to kindergarten ages.
The Cat in the Hat Builds That by PBS KIDS features 5 educational STEM games for preschool and kindergarten kids, focusing on key science concepts. Build bridges, explore friction with slides, sort objects, create musical instruments, mix colors, and more!
Once in a while stars collide and sparks fly! Such was the case when Bluebee Pals met Dr. Eleazar Trey Vasquez III, director of the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute (TJEEI). In just over a year, Dr. Trey, as he is often called, has brought in over $8 million in funded research to the institute that is located at the University of Central Florida. At the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute Dr. Trey and his ever growing team of special educators and behavior therapists are focused on providing research-based practices, professional development, and partner collaborations to individuals with disabilities and their families. https://tjeei.ucf.edu
Dr. Trey credits his college experience with Special Olympics for guiding him on a path to an exceptional education. He has worn many different hats throughout his career including teacher, school psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), associate professor, and Principal Investigator of research focused on the use of technology to increase academic and behavioral outcomes for students with autism. In addition, Dr. Trey is an expert at increasing interdisciplinary collaboration evidenced by his partnerships with UCF’s PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital (hospital-based pediatric school program) and CAST (nonprofit education research and development organization focused on Universal Design for Learning).
Now to the fireworks! Bluebee Pals were introduced to the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute in 2018 and quickly became part of their technology-focused research. Dr. Trey and his team recently completed a Single Case Research Design on the use of the Bluebee Pals to teach children with autism early social skills utilizing the VP-Map curriculum. Preliminary results of the study demonstrate early social skills can be increased with the use of robotics and good pedagogical curriculum. We are thrilled that Bluebee Pals were part of this important research focused on increasing crucial social skills in children with autism! We can’t wait to learn more about the use of robotics and technology for learning and thank Dr.Trey and the entire TJEEI team for their innovative research and dedication to persons with disabilities! !https://www.bluebeepals.com/autism/
Check back soon to stay informed about TJEEI’s publication and future research projects!
Beenleigh Special Needs School in Australia received a special visit this month from Laura Jiencke founder of Bluebee Pals after they purchased the first Bluebee in Australia. Laura received a wonderful reception from the principal, assistive technology coach and teachers. Bluebee Pals were applied in conjunction with AAC Devices in every classroom to engage non-verbal children in communication.
Each classroom is set-up to the Australian AAC ( alternative, augmentative communication) system. AAC incorporates the individual’s full communication abilities and may include any existing speech or vocalizations, gestures, manual signs, and aided communication. AAC is truly multimodal, permitting individuals to use every mode possible to communicate. Over time, the ability to use AAC devices may change and the AAC system chosen today may be a different system tomorrow. In any case, an AAC system is an integrated group of four components used by an individual to enhance communication. These four components are symbols, aids, techniques, and strategies.
Assistive Technology Coach Shannon Braithwaite Presenting to Classrooms Bluebee Pals with AAC Apps.
“The classrooms use AAC apps Proloquo2go and PODD/Compass. AAC is embedded into the teacher’s practice so rather than utilizing it for specific activities, our teachers use it for all interactions they have with students. The teachers point to symbols of the AAC system while speaking to the students. This is referred to as (modeling) and teachers are encouraged to model a range of communication functions, not just asking a question. Our teachers implement the Australian curriculum where every lesson/ activity would be modeled on the AAC system. The students are encouraged to participate using multimodal communication (verbal responses, AAC, gesture/ facial expression and combination methods).” …..Shannon Braithwaite
Founder Laura Jiencke of Bluebee Pals visited the Ipswich Special School in Australia in late May. The school is the second Australian school to implement Bluebee Pal learning companion tools into their AAC Curriculum. The principal and faculty welcomed the Bluebee Pals with opens arms! Once the Bluebee Pals arrived from the USA, the teachers immediately started incorporating Bluebee Pals in every classroom.
“I am impressed by the passion and commitment demonstrated by principal Tracey Banks to her staff and students. Special education is very challenging for many educators when discovering the most effective assistive technology tools. Many special needs schools are often limited by expensive technology tools available on the market; Bluebee Pals bring creativity and innovation as an affordable tool that impacts a child’s learning abilities when connected to a wide range of AAC, Educational, Reading, Language and Music Apps.”
AAC is short for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Communication systems, strategies and tools that replace or supplement natural speech are known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). These tools support a person who has difficulties communicating using speech……( Source-AssistiveWare) https://www.assistiveware.com/learn-aac/what-is-aac
The first “A” in AAC stands for Augmentative Communication. When you augment something, you add to it or supplement. Augmentative communication is when you supplement your speech with something (signs, symbols, a letter board, for example) to make your message clearer to your listener.
The second “A” in AAC stands for Alternative Communication. This is when you are not able to speak, or your speech is not understandable even when you add something to it. In this case, you need a different way to communicate.
Basically, AAC are the tools, systems and strategies that help a person communicate when they are not able to communicate effectively using speech.
The history of the Ipswich Special School can be traced back to 1923 when classes for students with special needs commenced as part of the Ipswich Central Boys’ State School. The Ipswich Special School community strives for excellence in education by providing a caring and supportive environment in which all students may achieve their potential to function and participate effectively as valued members of society.
The Ipswich Special School provides educational programs for students with a broad range of abilities, learning characteristics and needs aged between three and eighteen. All students have had their educational adjustment needs profiled under Education Queensland guidelines. All students have been diagnosed with an intellectual disability and many have also been diagnosed with Autism, hearing impairment, visual impairment and/or physical impairment.
Bluebee Pals Founder Laura Jiencke sent Bluebee Pals to Joan Green(M.A., CCC-SLP) founder of Innovative Speech Therapy to evaluate Bluebee Pals talking tech companions as assistive technology tools for her speech therapy practice. Joan utilized Bluebee Pal Sammy Bear by participating in segments of her Facebook Speech Webinar iintroducing not only third party apps but a featured presentation of the new Bluebee Pal Life Skills/Educational App.
The Bluebee App is a free App on Apple and IOS and received 5 star reviews. Videos and PDF’s Tutorials for the Bluebee Pal and Bluebee App were incorporated early this year on the Bluebee Website as a support resource tool for therapists and educators. Bluebee Pals affordable assistive technology tools progressed from its original release as basic educational tech toy, to it’s a recent launch in 2018 as a premium educational tool created for therapists and educators. https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
Over the past 30+ years, Joan Green developed systems, techniques, and strategies to help others speed toward their communication, cognitive, and learning goals. She combine the use of the latest assistive technology features, online tools, engaging speech and language therapy apps, evidence based speech therapy techniques, inclusive family-centered communication training, and multiple means of support.
implementing Apps in Speech therapy
Adults who have not responded to previous therapy
Verbal and nonverbal children
Emergent language learners
Beginning to introduce AAC- Alternative, Augmented Communication
Diagnosis of Autism (ASD), Intellectual impairment, Dementia, or Cognitive dysfunction
With a considerable number of K-12 students in special education programs throughout the U.S., teachers have found that the traditional use of textbooks and worksheets is often ineffective. The use of assistive technology – computer software, communication devices and tablets – is a new and innovative trend among educators.
Bluebee Pals founder Laura Jiencke received this testimonial from a public elementary school in College Place, Washington
I thought you would enjoy watching this language lesson using one of the Bluebee Pals you donated to us in our elementary life skills classroom. This lesson incorporated teaching the core word SOME through our Blubee Pal Lion using the AAC App Proloquo2go on our Ipads.Our story was The Tawny Scrawny Lionby Kathryn Jackson (Little Golden Books).
After this video ended we went on to have the students practice asking the lion, “Do you want some food?” both verbally and with their voice output AAC devices. The Bluebee Pal Lion would respond, “I want some food” then the student would feed it. They were very engaged and excited throughout this lesson. https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
One of our students who is generally less engaged than the other students, squealed and laughed with delight at our antics with the lion. Thank you again for providing these fun educational tools for us to utilize in so many ways in our speech and language lessons. We wil continue to explore the usages in incorporating Bluebee Pals not only in our speech classes but in our reading classes and circulmn. https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-app/
Beenleigh Special School in Mount Warren Park Queensland, Australia is the first school in Australia to introduce Bluebee Pals Assistive Technology Tools. Founder Laura Jiencke is visiting the school this week after accepting a invitation to visit the school and recieving posiitve reviews of Bluebee Pals impact on the school. The school opened in 1983 and provides specialized education programs for students with an intellectual disability from Prep to Year 12.
The enrollment at Beenleigh Special School is currently 163 students who come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. The student population consists of children ages between 4.5 and 18, who have a wide range of disabilities. The school caters for students with physical, intellectual, vision and hearing disabilities and students with autism spectrum disorders.The educational needs of students attending Been Leigh Special School are determined using a statewide education adjustment process. Data from this process is used as a basis for enrollment at the school.
The curriculum that guides teacher planning and learning experiences for students in year P-10 is the Australian Curriculum. The focus for students in Years 11 and 12 is on future planning and post-school. This is achieved through an individualized curriculum, using the Guidelines for Individual Learning as a framework.
At the end of each semester, student progress is formally documented and reported to parents/careers. All students at Beenleigh Special School have an Individual Curriculum Plan (ICP),or for Senior Secondary students a Senior Education Transition Plan. Education teams work together to implement the ICP, and constantly monitor and evaluate each student’s progress.
Bluebee Pals meets Google Workbench provides a platform for educators and therapists to download a spectrum of classroom curriculum, life skills and fun activities for children Pre-K1. Through research, consultants and testimonials, the Bluebee team created resources to promote Bluebee Pals tech companions as an effective technology tool engaging learning and communication for all mainstream and special needs classrooms. https://www.workbencheducation.com/
Bluebee Pals Pal 8 Lesson Plans are available free on Google Work Bench…
The goal of all educators should be to prepare all 21st Century students for a global society through the practice and mastery of the Four Cs- Communication, Creativity and innovation, Collaboration,Critical thinking and problem solving. Over the last ten years the National Education Association interviewed a diverse panel of leaders who agreed on the necessity to incorporate the “Four C’s” into K12 education for all learners. https://www.bluebeepals.com/google-workbench/
Bluebee 4 PDF Resource Pages are recommendations from educators, speech and occupational therapists outlining the diversification of applications to utilize the Bluebee Pals and the Bluebee Pal Life Skills/Educational App.
The Bluebee Pals Learning App is a robust life skill and cognitive development tool for children ages 3 to 7. When connected to a Bluebee Pal, children can immerse themselves in activities in five life skills’ rooms and play 9 educational mini-games. In addition to our app, Bluebee Pals pair with all apps with a narrative providing endless entertainment and education for all mainstream and special needs children.https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-app/
***Special Thanks to Jayne Clare-Teachers with Apps & Susan Wells -TechTerra Education
Advance Behavior and Learning is located in Maitland, Florida and a divison of Advance Behavior and Learning Academy. The organization serves families that have concerns regarding their child’s development, language, behavior, and/or learning.
Children range from those with formal diagnoses to those with no “labels”, which may just be experiencing some challenges that require additional support. Therapists work closely with families to create individualized programs that promote effective learning and maximum progress for each child. Therapy programs are based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to help children learn new skills and reduce problem behaviors. http://advancebehavior.com
“I’m a behavior analyst managing a clinical company that provides in home, in school, and clinic based behavior analytic services throughout Central Florida. I have been working in the field for almost 10 years and started as a behavior technician providing 1:1 direct therapy.
In my opinion, I think the Bluebee Pals are a fun affordable assistive technology tool for early learners who enjoy playing with plush toys and engage them to target various goals within verbal behavior. Bluebees are used within our clinical practice in a variety of ways. Some include as a reinforcer or preferred item the child can earn to play with or as a teaching tool to make learning more interactive and engaging.”
What goals/objectives are being targeted when using Bluebee Pals? Pragmatic/Social Language (turn-taking, joint attention, greeting, conversational skills etc.)Expressive Language (labeling vocabulary, sentence formulation, semantic concepts etc.) Emily Munoz, M.S. BCBA
Bluebee Pals are versatile educational tools for the classroom! Indeed, they can be used in a variety of both tech and non-tech ways to support early foundational skills. Students love to use them both ways as classroom learning partners!
Reading Skills:Tech-Use Bluebee Pals to connect with any book or reading app. Let your students enjoy a digital book while your Bluebee Pal reads aloud to them. This is also a great activity for group time. Students can follow along with the text (books with high-lighted text are especially nice). Students can also create their own books and record in their own voices, with their Bluebee Pal reading in the student’s voice. They love to hear themselves speak and this gives them excellent feedback on their oral reading skills.
Non-Tech-Let your students practice their oral reading skills by reading out loud to their Bluebee Pal buddy. We often break into small groups for oral reading practice. This is a great way for students to practice reading and intonation skills, and to gain reading confidence. Students can also orally practice reading and spelling their weekly vocabulary words with their Bluebee Pal tech companion.
Language Skills:Tech–There are a multitude of apps available to practice language skills such as sequencing, categorizing, grammar, wh-questions, sentence construction, and basic concepts.
Non-tech-When teaching early skills, use a friendly Bluebee Pal and have a play-pretend tea party or picnic! You can practice most of the same skills without connecting Bluebee. Practice taking turns, using pronouns (ex. Give the cup to him) positional and basic concepts (ex. Put the spoon next to Bluebee Pal), wh-questions (ex. Who has the blue plate?), categories (ex. Give all the red cookies to Bluebee Pal, Show Bluebee all the things you can eat). You can easily model and imitate your targeted language goals with students and Bluebee Pals in a group setting.
Articulation/Speaking Skills: Tech- Connect your Bluebee Pal to articulation and phonics practice apps to help your students practice and learn articulation skills. Your Bluebee Pal will say the sounds, words, phrases and sentences out loud for the students to practice, or can “speak” in your students’ voices when they use an in-app recording feature to capture their practice productions.
Non-tech: Have your students practice their sound production skills out loud with their Bluebee Pal! Say a word or sentence with the target sound. If they say it correctly, the student earns a point. If it is incorrect, give a point to Bluebee! Have them practice until they earn Bluebee’s points back! Let them also practice self-monitoring skills by taking their own data as they practice with their articulation picture cards and a Bluebee Pal.
Listening Skills: Tech-Connect your Bluebee Pal to a favorite listening comprehension skills app to practice listening for information with your snuggly friend. Additionally, it is essential that children are read to on a daily basis in their early years to foster listening, reading, comprehension, vocabulary, and cognitive skills. Tales2go is a wonderful audio book app that offers thousands of age appropriate selections for listening pleasure!
Non-tech-Play a listening game with your favorite Bluebee Pal. If the student listens and answers questions correctly, he earns a point. If he is incorrect, Bluebee gets the point. Who can collect the most points? Students enjoy playing with and learning with Bluebee Pals!
Social Skills: Tech-It’s tons of fun and lots of thrills to connect your Bluebee Pal to your smartphone to practice greetings, real conversations and taking listening and speaking turns! My students love to answer calls using Bluebee! The teacher or another student can stand with the phone within the Bluetooth range, out of sight, and practice conversations!
Practice your favorite social skills game apps and create and narrate your own social skills stories with your Bluebee Pals!
Non-Tech-Invite your favorite Bluebee Pals to your social skills group (non-connected). Students can practice social greetings, conversational turn-taking, questioning, play-pretend skills, and more, as they “teach” Bluebee the social rules!
Teaching early dressing skills require patience and plenty of practice for little ones. To be successful, kids require a sense of body awareness, the needed motor skills – both gross motor and fine motor, and the ability to sequence steps. Kids begin to express their base knowledge of steps of routine tasks through daily engagement. This simple act of participation takes on meaning and deserves attention because it is relevant. Relevancy facilitates retention.
Any other presentation of material can simply be PLAY. Using PLAY (experiential learning) as a medium is one of the most powerful learning tools because it turns-on the motor system in conjunction with the body’s other systems and THAT promotes active critical thinking, problem-solving, and memory.
Here are some tips in using a Bluebee Pal for teaching dressing skills:
Kids love to play dress up, and what a perfect way to practice fine-motor skills than to dress up Bluebee! We love dressing Bluebee for holidays and seasons. Not only can you demonstrate what clothing is appropriate for the season but also introduce practice on a wide variety of those tricky fasteners (snaps, buttons, and even belt buckles). I buy clothing at our local church’s thrift shop and have found bargains for all kinds of clothing. Six to nine-month clothing usually fits Bluebee perfectly – although I have bought shirts sized up to 2 years for “dresses”.
Onesies are good for left/right, front/back awareness which directly relates to one’s position in space, and the fine-motor abilities to pinch with force in the handling snaps. Socks or booties help kids sustain the ability to stretch and place the sock or bootie, and are one of the harder tasks for kids to perform. As kids gain competency with dressing Bluebee, try altering Bluebee’s position from looking directly at Bluebee to having Bluebee in your lap. In the lap position, it resembles how a child may dress themselves.
Some of my favorite preschool apps for dressing:
Sago Mini Babies Dress Up – while this does not have a narrative for Bluebee to play with the Bluetooth speaker, it is a great introduction for what to wear. The added bonus is that Sago Mini updates this app for seasonal variations.
Pepi House or Pepi Bath introduce self-care and has always been a clinic favorite. This is also an app that doesn’t use language. Learning at this level helps kids process and practice the sequence of events rather than have too much auditory input com overloading a kid’s system.
Dr. Panda apps always provide clothing to dress-up your character. They are great games to provide kids choices of what to wear. Their new annual subscription, “Dr. Panda Learn and Play” looks very promising.
With an app, or as a stand-alone activity, Bluebee is there to help teach your child through fun and play. Enjoyable activities lend themselves to skill retention and the ability to transfer skills real time – meaning that skills are not produced in exact circumstances. This is what we all wish for not only our children, but also all children. It is the gift to problem-solve and think through multiple strategies.
Proloquo2Go is a communication app that is used by individuals who have a limited ability to use speech for communication and need an augmentative and/or alternative way to communicate. I have used this communication app with all ages from young children to adults with complex communication needs.
The Proloquo2Go communication app offers a variety of page sets for individuals with varying abilities and is easily customized for each user. I find that the most useful page sets are the core vocabulary page sets, which give individuals the ability to communicate most effectively and with a more robust vocabulary page set. Additionally, it would be helpful to have Proloquo2go on two separate iPads (one for the child if they are using that as their form of communication and the other iPad for the therapist who is using Proloquo2go for modeling purposes) with the Bluebee Pal.
To learn more about how to facilitate communication with this app and Bluebee Pal, click here.
I have used Proloquo2Go for many years and have found its bilingual features intuitive and there is ease in switching back and forth between languages. Languages included in this app are Spanish, French, and Dutch. This app also comes with specific bilingual voices as well, so the speech sounds natural and fluent. To learn more about it’s bilingual features in both Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4Text, click here.
When using a bilingual app and Bluebee Pal, it affords the user the opportunity for Bluebee to speak multiple languages within a session. For bilingual speech language pathologist, the Bluebee Pal can be a great tool within a therapy session as well as the classroom for teachers with bilingual students. For children who are learning English, a teacher can set up a tablet with Bluebee Pal on one language (e.g. Spanish) and have the children respond in a different language on their talker (e.g. English). It can be an excellent tool with endless ideas!
LAMP Words for Life
LAMP Words For Life™ is a comprehensive augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) language app that combines the PRC Unity® language system with Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP™) principles and strategies. LAMP™ provides a consistent motor pattern for words with an efficient way to develop communication skills allowing for unlimited communication opportunities with others. The app is available with three different vocabulary pages sets; LAMP 84 One Hit, LAMP 84 Transition and LAMP 84 Full.
LAMP Words For Life™ combines 50 years of PRC experience with the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning approach. The app is appropriate for emerging, context dependent and advanced communicators. It is a symbol based app that is appropriate for individuals of all literacy levels. This language system is also based on many years of research that has helped shape the system that it is today. For more information on LAMP Words For Life™ app, click here. For additional resources, lesson plans and much more, check out AAC Language Lab here. To learn more about this app and how to use with Bluebee Pal with a featured activity, click here.
LAMP Words for Life has a unique page set titled LAMP WFL – Spanish/English 1 Hit and LAMP WFL – Spanish/English Full. These page set are truly bilingual and can give the user the ability to switch back and forth with ease. This app also comes with specific bilingual voices as well so the speech sounds natural and fluent. To learn more about this system and it’s bilingual features, click here.
Are you looking additional therapy apps to help teacher a child a new language?
My name is Daisy M. Duran. I am a Pre-K ESE teacher at Village Oaks Elementary in Immokalee, Florida. We are very grateful to have Bluebee Pals assistive technology tools as a leading technology device in our preschool classroom. As you can see in this photo, we created a separate technology area so students can focus their attention on learning with Bluebee Pals. In my opinion, my students have greatly benefited from using Bluebee Pals with the Bluebee Pal App and other third party educational apps.
The majority of students are language impaired in my classroom. I am so impressed how their communication and learning skills have improved by listening and watching their favorite Bluebee Pal. Bluebee Pals encourage engagement and motivate my students to participate in a variety of academic and social/emotional activities. The students are eager to complete the activities when they interact with their favorite Bluebee Pal tech companion.
Apps we are you using with Bluebee Pals
Bluebee Pal app for life skills and educational games
Smarty Ants for foundational reading skills such as letter identification and letter sounds
Super Duper Following Directions App for following direction with preposition concepts
My favorite moments are watching the happy expressions on my students faces when interacting with our Bluebee Pals. They are fascinated with the movements, the actions and sounds coming out of what they think is a stuffed bear or lion.
Bluebee Pals & Social Emotional Learning
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Self-aware. They are able to recognize their emotions, describe their interests and values, and accurately assess their strengths.
Regulate their emotions. They are able to manage stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles.
Socially aware. They are able to take the perspective of and empathize with others and recognize and appreciate individual and group similarities and differences.
Good relationship skills. They can establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation. They resist inappropriate social pressure; constructively prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflict; and seek and provide help when needed.
Demonstrate responsible decision-making at school, at home, and in the community. In making decisions, they consider ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate social norms, respect for others, and the likely consequences of various courses of action.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of sharing the power and fun of Bluebee Pals with many educators, therapists, caregivers and clients. Even then, it can be tricky to connect with the many people that could benefit from Bluebee Pals and empower them to use this educational tool with success. Thanks to the University of Central Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), I was able to provide a free webinar to help others get their “degree” in Bluebee!
With a little help from IT support and the guidance of Dr. Daly, UCF CARD Director, we were able to provide a live Bluebee Pals Tutorial webinar for caregivers and educators! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/ This live webinar was recorded and shared on the UCF CARD and Bluebee Pals Facebook pages for anyone to view at their leisure. Webinars provide an invaluable resource to us all as we try to stay informed about topics that affect our home and work lives. We are so thankful for the opportunity to educate caregivers and service providers about the many possible ways they can use Bluebee Pals as an affordable assitive technlogy tool to enhance learning and communication.
We have included Bluebee Pals in our grammar skills. Last week, Sammy the bear helped my students practice their prepositional phrases. My students took turns hiding Sammy behind, under, in, and on various items in the classroom. Using a free text to speech app, Sammy would call out “Hey, where am I?” When found, my students would use our “location words” to describe where Sammy was hidden. Once a student correctly identified the location, he/she would give him a hug and Sammy would say, “I love you, _______!” They were SO motivated, and Sammy got a lot of hugs!
Using Bluebee Pals has helped me to personalize my student’s learning! I have students with autism that find it difficult to attend to their peers in conversation. My Bluebee pal is a very patient listener, and a persistent communicator who never gets mad or frustrated! It’s a great step towards conversational skills! It’s awesome to have a communication partner who you can rely on to have an interest in any topic!
The soft snuggle factor of a Bluebee Pal cannot be ignored! Pairing a Bluebee pal with Raz Kids or a book being read on YouTube, and my students love cuddling up to listen to stories!
I brought in some of my son’s old baby clothes and Sammy the bear practiced getting dressed to go outside in different weather conditions. After using a writing chart, we then created a book for Sammy to read to us!My AAC users have also shown great interest in sharing their voices with a Bluebee Pal! Anything that motivates students to communicate more is a win in my book!
What is assistive technology? Assistive technology is any device, software or equipment that can help kids with learning and attention issues work around their challenges so that they can learn, communicate and simply function better. These products can make a significant impact on student learning. They can help kids become more successful and productive students, which can help grow their confidence and independence.Ranging in levels of sophistication, assistive technology is an ever-growing and dynamic field.
Here are some examples of assistive technologies:
“No Tech”—These items include pencil grips, post-it notes, slanted work surfaces, paper with raised lines, tactile numbers, letters or objects, magnifying bars, work organizers and weighted pencils.
“Low Tech”—These items include answer buzzers or buttons, talking calculators, microphones, switches, and tap lights.
“High Tech”—These include specialized keyboards, software applications, Text-to-Speech technology, mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, computers, word processors, augmentative communication devices, classroom amplification systems, and computerized testing.
Here are a few of our favorite affordable classroom assistive technologies:
Tips: Having the right AT tool can make a huge difference for your child’s education. A good way to choose an assistive technology tool is to start with a specific struggle or need that a child is displaying.
Bluebee Pals are one of our favorite assistive technology learning tools! Bluebee Pals “speak” when connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone or to apps on a tablet. Their mouths open and close and their head turns in a natural speaking position which makes them come to life. They are perfect snuggly study buddies for engaging students in reading practice while reading book apps, practicing skills in educational learning apps, and in practicing and learning social skills. Used with any targeted apps with voice narration, they motivate students to want to interact and learn. They are especially fun to use when recording your child’s own voice!
Nothing captures a child’s interest quicker than robots! They are very useful, hands-on tools to keep children actively engaged while learning, and can help with teaching a variety of subjects including STEM, motion, directionality, sequencing, estimation, problem solving, programming, and math skills. They also help students practice and build social skills while working in peer groups. You can create and measure angles, learn sight reading words, strengthen coding skills, or just use robots as a fun engagement tool. With robots, children think they are playing but they are actually learning. Robots are available for all ability levels, from beginning coding to advanced. They are particularly suitable for special needs students. Here are a few that are worth checking out.
Jimu Robot BuzzBot and MuttBot Kit
Bee-Bot and Pro-Bot, by Terrapin Software
Cozmo, by Anki
Audio Recorders and Buttons:
Many e-books have audio files and self recording features (for auditory feedback) and smartphones and tablet computers come with text-to-speech software that can read aloud anything on your child’s screen. If a child struggles with writing or taking notes, an audio recorder can capture what the teacher says in class so your child can listen to it again at home. Fun button recorders allow the user to make choices, practice speech, give messages, practice spelling words, and record short answers.
These inexpensive devices help kids who have trouble with pacing. Timers can be used as visual aids to show how much time is left to complete an activity. If a child has difficulty transitioning from task to task, timers can help him mentally prepare to make the switch.
Fun Time Timer by CodigoDelSur
Reading guides are good tools for kids who have trouble with visual tracking or who need help staying focused on the page. The plastic strip highlights one line of text while blocking out surrounding words that might be distracting. The strip is also easy to move down the page as your child reads.
For those with attention challenges and/or sitting still, students have the opportunity to wiggle or bounce while still being productive using wobble stools and exercise balls. Inflatable seat cushions are also available to help kids with sensory processing and attention issues. The cushion can provide enough movement and stimulation to help a child maximize his focus.
Depending on your child’s math issues, it might be appropriate for him to use a basic calculator in class. There are also large-display calculators and even talking calculators. A talking calculator has built-in speech output to reads the numbers, symbols and operation keys aloud. It can help your child confirm that he has pressed the correct keys.
Free Talking Calculator by Roundhouse Software LLC
Recently I had the opportunity to work with Laura Jienke, founder of the brilliant Bluebee Pals in a preschool in Naples, FL – we had a blast! The teacher had been celebrating Dr. Suess’s Bday & NEA’s Read Across America the nationwide reading celebration that takes place the whole month of March. When Laura asked me to read a Dr. Suess book I was more than happy to since there had been some talk that his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was not politically correct. (That book was written in 1937 and the world was a different place, use it as an opportunity to share some history – don’t ban the book…) Bluebee Pals Celebrate with Creativity her at the Methodist School Day School!
The classroom looked like it was straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine!
The lead teacher made us feel right at home, the classroom not only had a Suess theme it was crawling with Bluebee Pals and cool creative projects like this graph. The teacher graciously gave the circle time over to myself and Riley the Zebra to share one of the masters famous books ~ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, the children helped to read the book and eagerly engaged in a counting activity. We also shared the Bluebee Pal dedicated app and got the kids off their bottoms and actively taking turns with the screen. I don’t know who had more fun, Laura and I or the children!
What is grammar vs syntax? To learn more about this, click here.
Looking for more information about grammar and syntax? Check out this resource by Anne Rowley
Many students with speech and language delays and disabilities have difficulty learning syntax and grammar. How can we help children learn to use better grammar and syntax in conversation? Incorrect syntax and grammar can affect overall communication if a message is misunderstood. This can lead to frustration and interacting with others that are less familiar. It also comes out in writing, which can affect academics.
There are many apps available that help target grammar and syntax. Below I am going to give a brief description of each with a link to the full review with tips on how to use Bluebee Pal.
Bluebee Pals are a welcoming friend encouraging learning and communication. Bluebee Pal can also be an ideal model to model correct syntax and grammar with specific apps.
Syntax City is a state-of-the-art application designed by Barbara Fernandes, M.S; CCC SLP, that targets a variety of grammatical elements in fun and engaging way for varying ages and abilities. The theme sets the tone for children visiting a variety of places within the city. Each location within the city targets a different set of goals. Each location within the city targets a different set of goals: See below for the locations and goals that are being targeted: -Gym: Do/Does -Beach: Third person singular agreement -Bakery: Was/Were -Ski Resort: He/ She -Farm: Past tense verb agreement -Grocery: Has/Have -Park: Is/Are -Zoo: Regular and Irregular Plurals
To find out more information about this app and download, click here.
Grammar Apps by Super Duper
Super Duper Publications has a variety of apps that target grammar and syntax. Which apps? Here are some to download! Fun Decks such as I and Me, Adverbs, Understanding Double Negatives App, My Mine and Me are just to name a few. For a full list of apps to download that target grammar, click here.
Using Fun Decks with Bluebee Pal can be endless fun with these apps! For example, when you start the Super Duper Plurals app, Bluebee Pal will say “Max has many colorful _____” The child can listen to the sentence and then choose “balloon” or “balloons”. This app priced at $3.99 gives the option of tracking data, adding additional players.
Create Your Own Sentences with Pictello
What better way to practice what you learned than to create your own social stories and sentences with Pictello! Create a social story with Pictello and make Bluebee Pal the reader of the story! Pictello is a versatile app that can be used to create stories with using photos, short video clips and text. This app has the ability to use both synthesized and digitized speech. The app also gives you the ability to share easily with others is user friendly to set up. Pictello also has the option to use many different language and accents which can be an excellent feature for many individuals.To learn more about this app and using it with Bluebee Pal, click here.
Methodist Day school (Naples, FL) offers preschool classes for students 2 years old through 5 years old. Their program is set up so that each year students continue to build on the learning blocks of the previous year until reaching Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten, which is a government-funded program to help prepare students for kindergarten. Methodist Day School was founded in 1961 under the auspices of First United Methodist Church, having the unique distinction of being the oldest preschool in Collier County.
2 Year Old Class Program: Fine motor skills, Gross motor skills, Eye/Hand coordination, Reinforcement of colors and shapes, Introduction to numbers & ABC’s,Table manners, Continuation of verbal skills. Students will participate in art, dance, and group activities to help encourage learning of age-appropriate skills.
3 Year Old Class Program: Pre-writing skills, Number and letter recognition, Cutting skills, Gluing skills, Language skills, Communication Skills, Cognitive Skills. Personal/Social skills such as dressing, using bathroom, and washing hands independently or with minimal assistance. Students will participate in creative play, music, art, exercise, and games to aid in learning the skills needed at this age.
VPK ~ Kindergarten Prep Program: Uses Creative Curriculum which includes: Math skills, Pre-reading skills with sight words, Beginning writing, Cognitive concepts, Comprehension, Communication skills, Dramatic play and Creative movement.
Bluebee Pals Affordable Assistive Technology Tool
This school welcomes technology as a positive re-enforement for enhancing early childhood learning. Bluebee Pals assistive technology tools acts a the teacher’s helper in engaging children in life skills and academic lessons.
In these photos, Bluebee Pal Riley the Zebra is reading the Dr. Suess App as the teacher participants by asking specific questions. In the other photos, Bluebee is representing the Bluebee Pals Educational/Life Skills App focusing on learning goals.Literacy * Daily Living Skills * Learning Actions * Expand Vocabulary *Sequencing * Making Choices * Categories. Bluebee brings joy and fun when singing to a variety of educational music apps. https://youtu.be/dRdxflMv15M
These soft huggable tactile companions offer endless education and diverse learning methods by allowing teachers to think outside the box. Engaging and motivating children to learn in a fun and low pressure setting; Bluebee’s are an wonderful affordable educational tool compatible to hundreds of apps with a narrative from inexpensive free apps to more technical speech therapy apps.
Pathways Strategic Teaching Center is a comprehensive education and treatment program servicing children with autism and related disorders. Founded in 1998 through a collaborative effort between Trudeau and local parents of children with autism, Pathways is committed to utilizing scientifically validated teaching strategies to improve the lives of children with autism and their families. Our organization is Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, a division of The Trudeau Center. They are a school for students with special needs, aged 3-22, who are diagnosed with Autism and other related disorders. Our students are instructed based upon the principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis, and receive speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, adapted physical education, and other support services as needed. https://trudeaucenter.org/pathways-strategic-teaching-center/
Bluebee Pal Project
The founder of Bluebee Pals, Laura Jiencke met Megan Broz (Assistive Technology Professional) at the November Boston ASHA Conference and discussed Pathways Strategic Teaching Centers participating in the Bluebee Pals Project. Ms. Broz works with children with Autism in preschool classrooms and requested the opportunity for her staff to utilize Bluebee Pals as an assistive technology tool in a variety of speech/language and occupational therapy programs.
As a school for children with Autism and developmental delays, we are always seeking new and motivating ways to engage our students. During classroom groups facilitated by speech pathology and occupational therapy, our students were all introduced to Bluebee pals – and it was a hit! Students were following directions given by Lily the Lamb, dressing her for the season, and interacting with both her and others in the classroom. Some students requested to have more time with Lily and enjoyed exploring ways to “play” with her.
Students of all ages found ways to interact with Bluebee pals, many demonstrating increased motivation in and attention to the activities. Bluebee was not a replacement for the people involved, just a support to the human interactions that were already occurring. It was great, and we are continuing to develop activities to use with Bluebee pals! We are also really excited to explore the Bluebee Pal App! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/
Want to enhance your child’s communication? Join us March 22 12:00-1:00 EDT at UCF CARD for this week! The Bluebee Pal Pro is an interactive plush learning tool that “speaks” when paired with any iOS or Android device via Bluetooth connection. Bluebee Pals engage children during educational and therapeutic activities by providing the voice output/narrative during reading activities, fine motor/gross motor tasks, speech-language tasks, playtime and more! Learn how Bluebee Pals assistive technology tools can help your child increase participation in and attention to tasks to improve their functioning in all settings while having fun! Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lunch-bite-using-bluebee-pals-…
The University of Central Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities provides services within the geographical region that includes Orange, Lake, Osceola, Sumter, Brevard, Volusia, and Seminole Counties. Florida is home to many individuals with autism and related disabilities. In response to the needs of these people and their families, seven regional, nonresidential resource centers have been established.
The Centers serves both children and adults of all levels of intellectual functioning who have autism spectrum disorders, dual sensory impairments, or sensory impairments with other disabling conditions. A constituency board comprised of family members representing persons with autism and related disabilities meet quarterly with the Center staff to provide guidance on policies, priorities and activities.
The Bluebee Pal Pro is an interactive plush affordable assistive technology tool that “speaks” when paired with any iOS or Android device via Bluetooth connection. Bluebee Pals engage children during educational and therapeutic activities by providing the voice output/narrative during reading activities, fine motor/gross motor tasks, speech-language tasks, playtime and more! Learn how Bluebee Pals can help your child increase participation in and attention to tasks to improve their functioning in all settings while having fun! Vist the Bluebee Pal Website. https://www.bluebeepals.com
Personalized learning refers to efforts to tailor education to meet the different needs of students. It involves “instruction in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. Learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content (and its sequencing) may all vary based on learner needs. In addition, learning activities are meaningful and relevant to learners, driven by their interests, and often self-initiated” (The United States National Education Technology Plan 2017). To put it simply, personalized learning is a learning experience designed for each student with their specific needs in mind. Typically, technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments. There are a multitude of resources available to address personalized learning.
Bluebee Pals are fun, motivating and engaging and can be easily integrated with any of the featured apps!
Here are a few App Recommendations:
Splash Math Grade K-5 Math Learning Games by StudyPad, Inc.
This math learning app features interactive content, personalized/adaptive learning, games, progress reports, a scratch pad for rough work and more. In the adaptive learning feature, topics start easy and build based on the user’s progress. Medium and hard levels are unlocked based on performance. For even more engagement, connect your Bluebee Palto narrate and provide feedback!
This app offers a variety of learning tools and games in hundreds of topics. Users can learn a language, master vocabulary words, learn to read, improve spelling and more. It’s customizable and tracks answers so users can easily see what they’ve mastered so far and what they need to work on more. Bitsboard personalizes games based on the individual player’s skill and knows when the user is ready to move on to the next challenge. Bitsboard games are fun to play with Bluebee Pals!
Ideal for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, BrainPOP Jr. offers standards-aligned movies, quizzes, games, and activities covering Science, Reading & Writing, Math, Health, Social Studies, and Arts & Technology. It encourages young learners to ask questions and form their own ideas. All text is read aloud to facilitate comprehension.Bluebee Palsare great friends to help you work and learn!
Articulation Station Pro provides students with the opportunity to record and listen to their own voices as they practice pronunciation of sounds and words in conjunction with a narrator who speaks them. Designed by a certified speech-language pathologist, the app lets students play with letter sounds through word games, sentences, and stories. Through these activities, students can build self-awareness, correct pronunciation and letter and word recognition. Activities can be tailored to meet individual student articulation needs. Your Bluebee Pal easily connects to the app and helps students listen and practice. Record student productions within the app and your Bluebee will speak in your students’ own voices. They will be captivated!
Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard that allows you to instruct in real time through interactive learning and lets students demonstrate knowledge by becoming the teacher (the best way to know if you know something is to explain it to someone else). It is an excellent tool for creating and designing presentations, forcing students to articulate their understanding, and collaborating with their peers.
This is an interactive whiteboard and screencasting tool you can use to teach/explain any concept. Screencasts allow teachers to duplicate and provide each student with his or her own teacher-created personalized video lesson. Each student controls the lesson and can work independently. They can pause, rewind, and listen to their teacher again. Additionally, those who miss class no longer lack the instruction, instead receiving the same lesson presented to their classmates.
Seesaw: The Learning Journal by Seesaw Learning, Inc.
Seesaw is a student-driven, digital student portfolio that inspires students to take ownership of and do their best work. Students are able to express themselves and reflect on their learning. Teachers find or create activities to share with students. Students take pictures, draw, record videos and more to capture learning in a portfolio. Parents and teachers see their child’s work and leave comments and encouragement.
Nearpod is a classroom tool for teachers to engage students with interactive lessons & assessments that students can access on any device. Teachers control the lesson, pushing content to student devices, which students complete at their own pace. Nearpod increases student engagement with lessons that require their interaction. Use Nearpod to collect and deliver video, web content, images, slides, PDF’s and assessments to your students in an single, organized collection for the lesson.
Students need personalized learning when it comes to classroom management in addition to instruction. Class Dojo provides teachers with a platform to track student behavior and assign positive and negative remarks. In addition, teachers can send instant messages to specific parents and share photos from the class. Students can choose their own avatar.
Google Classroom:A member of the Google Apps for Education suite of services that helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with their classes.
Easterseals Massachusetts focuses on the full potential of every person and is changing the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people’s everyday lives. They provide essential programs and services to children and adults with disabilities throughout the state. Easterseals ensures that children and adults with disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play. Their occupational, physical and speech therapists, assistive technology specialists, as well as our youth, employment, and transition teams are experts in their fields and provide services in a wide range of settings.
Easterseals Massachusetts is recognized nationally as a leader in assistive technology, their services are an excellent resource for children and adults with autism who need high and low technology solutions for home, work or school in order to increase their independence.
The Bluebee Pal Project & Easterseals
“I spoke with my team and everyone is thrilled and loved your product! .Our plans are to place 2 in each AT Loan Center and then use them directly with clients and our AAC Specialists, OTs and SLPs are so excited! Bluebee Pals will be a great communication and learning tool for all the assistive technology departments within Easterseals.” Kimberly Sokol: Vice President of Rehabilitation & Support Services-Occupational Therapist. http://www.easterseals.com/ma/
As a speech therapist working with young children, it can sometimes be hard to find ways to keep them engaged in therapy. The Bluebee Pal is a great interactive learning tool that is a fun and engaging way for the students to work on a variety of speech and language goal areas, especially when working with groups of children who all have different goals to be targeted.
The Bluebee Pal can target speech and language concepts such as making choices, categories, following directions, learning action words, expanding vocabulary, sequencing, inferencing, object function, wh-questions, articulation—the list goes on! The student’s love using the iPad and seeing the BluebeePal talk to them. The Bluebee Pal is another great assistive technology tool to have in a speech therapists toolbox…Laura N. Husted, SLP-M.S., Clinical Fellow-SLP
My mother knew the importance of using stuffed animals in times of trauma. She made and donated thousands of stuffed animals over 45 years as a volunteer at our regional hospital. The stuffed animals she made were simple dolls, and kids were encouraged to draw on them or just hold them close when stressed. They proved to be invaluable when working with kids and helped caregivers and first-responders to not only identify the problem a child might be experiencing, but also know what path to take in diagnosing and treating a child who has experienced upheaval in their life.
Stuffed Animals Utlized in Times of Trauma.
What is trauma exactly? Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as an emotional response to a negative event. It can vary in its intensity amongst individuals, and a person does not have to directly experience an event but can witness it from a distance. This makes trauma both elusive and deeply personal. The effects can be immediate or manifest days, months , or years after an event. Identification is the first step in giving kids the help they need.
Bluebee Pals can be an essential tool in the classroom or the clinic in discovering kids who have experienced trauma or distress. Sometimes talking to an inanimate friend provides the space and unconditional support in which to express oneself. Kids can project any attribute onto a stuffed animal through that thinly veiled line between reality and fantasy to make it so
– “Leo is a good listener, Lily loves me, or Parker gives good hugs and keeps me calm.”
There is also a foundation of science in support of using a stuffed animals such as Bluebee Pals. When we hold something tight against our body, we activate our core. Try it – hold onto a pillow or stuffed animal tightly – feel it? Do you feel it in your belly? That “gut level feeling” comes shining through when activating our core. This posturally supported position can give rise to wakening our awareness as well as a sense of confidence when sharing or speaking. The deep pressure and proprioceptive benefits also release neurotransmitters that help us calm and focus.
Bluebee Pals are an assistive technology device that provides children with the confidence to try something new. And because of Bluebee Pal’s adaptability, he speaks the language of children. Whether it’s learning a new skill from playing an app or the chance to communicate through an AAC program or a phone call, he is a loving and consistent presence that supports children everywhere.
According to The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) , “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” Social and Emotional Learning can take place in both the home and classroom. With empathy and creating positive relationships with others. we can be happier and meet goals of social closeness. The goal of social closeness is so critical for children with complex communication needs. To learn more about Social Emotional Learning, check out this video below.
I love this concept of Social and Emotional Learning because it challenges parents, teachers and students to think outside the box. How can we take this concept and apply it to the Bluebee Pal? How can we teach children with more complex cognitive abilities the concept of feelings and emotions? This can be a tricky concept but very attainable. In my experience, I have learned to meet goals of social and emotional learning through multimedia strategies. I used materials such as books, cards, etc but also role play and use video modeling, which I find extremely helpful. Below I will list some helpful apps to start with how integrate our friend, Bluebee Pal!
Create a social story with Pictello and make Bluebee Pal the reader of the story! Pictello is a versatile app that can be used to create stories with using photos, short video clips and text. This app has the ability to use both synthesized and digitized speech. The app also gives you the ability to share easily with others is user friendly to set up. Pictello also has the option to use many different language and accents which can be an excellent feature for many individuals. When creating a story, choose between Wizard or Expert depending on how much support you need. Name your story and then choose your voice, transition feature and filling out the “About Me” section.To learn more about this app, click here.
Let’s Be Social Pro
This app includes 40 written lessons and 5 video lessons developed by ASHA certified SLP’s. This app gives you ability to create customized lessons using your own pictures and text, Let’s be Social a therapeutic tool designed to help special needs professionals and parents teach social skills to those with delays in pragmatics. In order to meet social emotional learning, understanding social communication is key! To learn more about this app, click here.
Breathe Think Do with Sesame
This app helps teach skills such as problem solving, self control, planning and task persistence.This bilingual (English and Spanish), research-based app helps your child learn Sesame’s “Breathe, Think, Do” strategy for problem-solving. With app, there are challenging situations that can make a child frustrating. The app helps your child to make the monster breathe so that he can be calmer. Each time time the monster breathes, then you have to create a plan to help him. This free app helps teach vocabulary, strategies and problem solving. To learn how to use it with Bluebee Pal, click here.
Touch and Learn Emotions
Touch and Learn is an app that introduces new concepts related to feelings in a fun and exciting new way. This app focused on helping kids interpret body language and understand emotions. When the app starts up, the child has to answer the question, “Who is __(sad, tired, happy etc.?” The pictures included in this app are high quality and perfect to use for this task. This app can also be used to elicit conversation about facial expressions and other nonverbal communication. To learn how to use this app with Bluebee Pal, click here.
Let’s Use Language Pro
Written by ASHA-Certified SLPs, Let’s Use Language uses stories to teach the language concepts of: Vocabulary, Sequencing, Categories and Opposites.This app includes 40 lessons and provides a context for learning language. The app is well organized and gives users the ability to create their own skill set or edit the current lesson plan menu.To learn more about this app and how to use it with Bluebee Pal, click here.
Let’s Use Language Pro is written by ASHA-Certified SLPs. This app uses stories to teach the language concepts of: Vocabulary, Sequencing, Categories and Opposites.This app includes 40 lessons and provides a context for learning language. The app is well organized and gives users the ability to create their own skill set or edit the current lesson plan menu. This app relates well to the concept of Social and Emotional Learning with it’s embedded appropriate social behaviors in each story.
When you open the app, you have a choice of Vocabulary, Sequencing, Categories and Opposites. When you open the vocabulary section, you have a choice of various stories to choose from. These include; Visiting the Farm, Ella and Carly’s Day at the Beach, Playing Outside, Eating Lunch at School, A Day at the Zoo, Planting Flowers, Madison Gets Ready for Bed, Emma Goes to a Birthday Party, The Life Cycle of a Caterpillar and Tom’s Soccer Game. Once you open up the story, you can have the story read to you and then answer the questions related to the story. This is an excellent activity that works on reading comprehension (if you read it yourself), auditory comprehension (have the book read to you), answering “wh” questions and learning new vocabulary.
In the sequencing section, there are 10 stories to choose from. Once a story is selected, you have the option to either read it yourself or have it read to you. Then there is a sequencing activity. This is an excellent opportunity to work on sequencing, recalling information and time concepts. The pages are organized well, which makes the app easy to use and child friendly.
The categories sections is set up similarly to the sequencing and vocabulary section but the questions target categories. The opposites also includes 10 different stories with questions targeting opposites. I really love this app because it easy to navigate and consistent in the layout, which is so important for both a child and parent. This is also helpful for a therapist who is using multiple apps and materials.
How to use Learning Language Pro with Bluebee Pal:
Connect Bluebee Pal with your preferred device via bluetooth.
Once connected, let the fun begin! Choose a story such as Eating Lunch at School and Bluebee will read the story to your child.
Once the story is complete, Bluebee can ask the questions. Try this for each of the sections. Bluebee loves to help children learn language concepts and work on social language!
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame is a free app created by Sesame Workshop that teaches your children (appropriate for ages 2 to 5) how to breathe, calm down and work through stressful everyday challenges. For example, Little Monster has trouble putting on his shoes. He is getting very frustrated. What should he do to work through his frustration? With this app, your child will help Monster breathe, calm down and then choose a solution to this problem (which helps a child learn how problem solve).
The app includes five different situations to help your child problem solve and learn how work through various problems. Your child has to finish each activity before moving onto the next one. As your child helps Monster breathe, the color of the background changes and his facial expression turns from upset to calm. Breathe Think Do with Sesamehelps teach your child new vocabulary, follow directives, learning simple problems solving skills and most importantly learn social emotional strategies to calm a child. The visuals and simple layout of this app is perfect for young children and will help your child put on their thinking cap.
The app also is also bilingual!
For many parents who have children with low frustration tolerance, attention issues and difficulty with transitions, this can be a wonderful app.
How to use with Bluebee Pal:
Connect Bluebee Pal to your preferred device via bluetooth.
With Bluebee Pal providing the verbal instructions, you child can “choose an activity”
Once the activity is chosen, you can work through how to breathe and stay calm with Bluebee Pal! Practice breathing with Bluebee Pal as your child helps monster breathe. How can you help Bluebee Pal breathe and stay calm? After tapping on Monster’s tummy, tap on Bluebee’s tummy!
“Read Across America” is an annual, nationwide reading celebration that takes place the week before and on March 2—Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Across the country, thousands of schools participate by bringing together kids and books to emphasize the importance of reading and learning. You can help your child to read, learn and grow, during this special week, and year-round, too! Here are some suggestions to get you started…..(And Every Day, too)!
As a Speech Language Pathologist, I often use our classroom Bluebee Pals during therapy to work on reading, talking and playing skills! My students really relate to their Bluebee therapy friends, and look forward to learning with them! Teaching and learning begin at home. Parents are the first and most important teachers in the early, developmental years. Young children learn essential, foundational speech, receptive and expressive language, social, pre-reading, cognitive, numeracy and communication skills necessary for future academic success through meaningful play and lots of language rich learning opportunities.
Read, Read, Read!
Read to your child daily. Reading helps develop vocabulary, attending, sentence construction, grammar, pronoun usage, social-skills, turn-taking, imagination, creativity, sequential thought, emotions, wh-questions, comprehension, receptive/expressive language skills, critical thinking and problem solving, and so much more! Parents provide many natural educational interactions while reading, talking about the subject matter and elements of the story, questioning about the story, and practicing story retelling.
During Read Across America week, books by Dr. Seuss are highlighted. Here are a few of our class favorites. Have your own Dr. Seuss celebration at home by reading with your favorite Bluebee Pals!
Parents need to talk to their children! Talking and commenting on the world around them is a great, natural way to teach children. Examples: In the grocery store: “How many yellow fruits do you see? How many green vegetables? Let’s buy three red apples”. In the car: “Let’s see how many blue cars we can count” or “How many things can people ride in to go somewhere”? “Let’s look for things that are orange”. “Can you find a stop sign? What colors are in a traffic light”? At home during interactive play: “Oh, wow, I see that you are racing your red car and your blue car. Which one do you think will go faster”? Simple commenting and talking about what you and your child are doing and seeing and asking questions is a powerful educational tool. Commenting on the world around them will build and reinforce basic concepts, numeracy, turn-taking, pragmatic skills, receptive and expressive language, critical thinking and reasoning skills, problem solving, grammar, and more.
Play, Play, Play!
Play with your children! Lots and lots of learning takes place during play! Play dolls, play trucks, play games, play marbles, play pretend! Provide opportunities for you preschoolers to interact with peers! Beginning games such as Candy Land, Spot It, Pop the Pig, I Spy, Zingo and more are great for practicing social skills, turn-taking, sharing, numbers, colors, matching and categorization skills. Playing and learning through songs and finger-plays such as “Itty Bitty Spider, 5 Little Ducks, etc, is a great way to teach rhyming, sequencing, memory and basic concept skills. Learning through play provides powerful opportunities for cognitive growth.
We are proud to introduce our latest Bluebee Pals Project site Pathways Strategic Teaching Center, a program of the Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center located in Rhode Island. Pathways Strategic Teaching Center is an educational and treatment program that serves persons with autism and related disabilities. Founded in 1998, the program provides speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and behavior analysis in home, community and educational settings.
With an intensive staff-to-student ratio (often one-to-one), individuals ages 3 to 21 years are provided individually tailored curricula to increase communication, pre-academic/academic skills, daily living/self-care skills, play/social skills and behavior skills. Clients work towards tolerance of small and large group settings and are even provided assistance with transitioning via a transition apartment classroom where daily living and vocational skills are taught.
The staff at Pathways Strategic Teaching Center have been using Bluebee Pals weekly to encourage participation in otherwise non-preferred activities and tasks as well as a teaching/therapeutic tool for sustaining attention and targeting specific therapeutic and academic goals. Finding them “very simple to grab, connect, and start using so material making and therapy planning was not made more difficult” has allowed for Bluebee Pals to help increase success and participation in therapy groups, arts and crafts activities, reading and playtime. “We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience with Bluebee Pals and are encouraging parents of our students to investigate the possibilities for home.
We are expanding our opportunities and integration of the Bluebee Pals into our daily programming, and we are excited to find a larger variety of ways to use it!” stated Meghan K. Broz, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP of Pathways Strategic Learning Center. We are thankful for Pathways Strategic Learning Center and their creative use of Bluebee Pals to enhance their state-of-the-art program! https://www.bluebeepals.com/autism/