Q. What are some options for the settings?

Q. How do you play this app in the full setting?

A. The child can select the character(s) to play with or the program will select them randomly. The choices are a mouse, a cat, and a bear. The narrator instructs the child to tell the character what to do. For example, if a mouse is selected, the child is told, “Tell the mouse what to do.”  In the normal mode, the child then touches each part of the phrase, in order. As each word/part is touched, a pre-recorded voice says the words. The child can choose a boy or girl voice to say the words in the settings or the default (a boy voice) will be used. The child is coached by the narrator to “Do it again” until the desired number of repetitions is achieved. (In settings, can be one, two or three repetitions. The default is two repetitions)

After the child activates the phrase the selected number of times, the character then indicates he/she will perform the desired action. For example, the mouse will say, “Ok, I’ll drive the car!”  The animation of that phrase will then automatically pop up so the child can see what a “mouse driving the car” looks like. The animation generally lasts 5-7 seconds.

The next screen is a microphone and recording option. If the user does not want the recording option (especially if the child is nonverbal) you can turn it off in the settings and this screen will be skipped. If it is not de-selected, it will automatically engage in the default mode. The narrator says, "Now you say it." ” 

We have added optional visual support for the recording page! You can have it activated or not. If it is activated, you can tap on the shapes (as seen below) and they turn around to show the target pictures/words. You can even turn them back around and hide them! This will be available in the update that is planned for early May 2012, so stay tuned!

The Start button is touched and the recording begins. There is no “correct” answer for this screen. It is left open-ended so the users can verbalize at whatever level they are, and the parent or speech pathologist can gradually model or coach a more complex response as the child is able, over time. For some, practice with articulation or fluency may also be integrated here. The child can then listen to the newly-recorded production with their voice and watch the animation again, or try recording again. When finished, the child is introduced to the next verb phrase screen and the game continues until all pre-selected verbs (or all of them, if none have been selected) have been completed.


Q. Can you explain the levels of play?

A. “Easy Play” is for children who have difficulty with fine motor control or touch/point responses. All they need to do is touch any part of the phrase parts and it will activate the voice to say the entire phrase, and the child is given credit for successful completion with a check mark. “Normal Play” requires the child touch each part of the phrase in order to be considered successful. So in a 3-part phrase, there would be three elements to be touched in order: the verb, “the”, and the noun. For the “Challenge Play” mode, the child needs to touch and drag each part of the phrase to the boxes above, in the correct order.

Challenge Play Screen Example:


Q. What is the difference between the 2-part and 3-part modes, and why do you have them?

A. In the 2-part mode, the child has each phrase broken into two parts: the verb/verb and preposition + the object. For example: Eat + the apple; Step over + the rock. The child only needs to touch the verb (e.g. "drive") and any part of the noun phrase (e.g. "the car.") It is a chunking technique that is often helpful for children who remember language better in smaller units. It also provides a more fluent phrase production and is slightly more challenging because it has less emphasis on the word “the”, requiring the child to remember to integrate into the phrase with less cueing. In the 3-part mode, the child has more attention drawn to the word “the” and so it is more helpful for children who need to cue in to the article and syntax form of the phrase. In may be helpful to start in the 3-part mode and then progress over time to the 2-part mode.

Two-Part Phrase Screen Example


Q. Who is an appropriate candidate for this app?

A. This app is a excellent choice for a toddler or child who is learning to put English phrases together, using a verb + noun phrase, such as “eat the apple” or “drink the water.” Children who are working on using the article “the” will also find this app helpful. It is also an excellent tool for working on language processing, concept imagery, early literacy and auditory memory for young children. Creative speech-language pathologists can also integrate working on articulation, fluency, and answering simple "wh" questions with this app. The full version offers an in-app purchase to also access animations that lend themselves well to he and she practice. While it is primarily a syntax activity, it is very useful for many language learning activities.

Q. What settings would you recommend for a child is not yet talking?

A. The best choice would be to turn OFF the recording function. Set the level to Easy Play. I like to keep the text on, even though the child is likely not reading because it is a good early literacy exposure that shows word boundaries and left to right reading patterns. The two or three part phrase setting will work, but I would only have one repetition of the phrase since the child's attention span may be short. However, you may want to experiment and see if the child can tolerate multiple repetitions of the phrase.

Q. Can you explain the differences between the full and lite versions?

Lite:                                                                      FULL version:

3 Users’ data/settings stored                          15 Users’ data/settings stored

4 simple verbs, 2 verb + prep phrases          17 simple and 12 verb + prepositions

Boy’s voice speaks the phrases                      Girl or boy output voice models

Cat character performs animations              6 characters: girl, boy, cat, dog, bear, mouse

19 total animations                                          * Total of 456 animations

Q. What verbs are contained in the full version?

A. Close, cut, drink, drive, drop, eat, kick, open, play, pop, pour, pull, push, ride, roll, throw, wash, go on, jump off, jump on, jump over, put away, put on, sleep on, step over, take off, take out, turn off, turn on.  Verbs are nearly all associated with several objects and animations. For example, the word drink is associated with, "Drink the water," "Drink the juice," and "Drink the milk."

Q. Can this app be used for children with autism?

A. Yes. This is an excellent choice for children on the autism spectrum, as well as other developmental delays, who are learning to understand and use two and three word phrases. The white backgrounds are intentionally used to provide a clutter-free visual field for children who need help to focus on the important elements of an app. In addition to the visual format, the voice models were carefully edited to demonstrate a natural intonation pattern. The animations demonstrate the modeled phrase so the child can connect the words with what they mean.

Q. How often should a child use an app such as this to practice?

A. As with all media and “screen time” (TVs, computers, etc.) you should use apps for very short periods of time, especially with young children. There is no hard and fast rule but a suggestion would be for no more than 15-20 minutes a day on apps in general for developing talkers, if the activities are engaging and helpful, with occasional exceptions for long car rides or trips. The essential aspect of communication should be in face-to-face interaction and play, not on a computer or app. Remember, the app is just a quick, fun way to play and practice, but should not be overused.


Q. Can this app be used by a speech-language pathologist?

A. Yes, the settings allow for up to 15 children to be included so the speech pathologist can keep track of which verbs have been targeted and completed. The speech pathologist may also find the 2-part phrase setting especially helpful for children who need to work on improving the prosodic features of their phrasing. Lastly, the recording option should be customized according to the child’s needs in response to the question, “What did the (character) do?” For example, the speech pathologist may want to target a simple verb (eat) a two-word phrase without an article (“eat apple”) a subject+verb+ noun form (“Mouse eat apple”) the word “the” (“eat the apple”) or past-tense verbs (“The mouse ate the apple.”

Lite Version of First Phrases is 99 cents!

Q. What verbs are contained in the Lite version?

A. Close, drink, drive, sleep on, turn on. Each verb has several objects associated with it. For example, the word close has these phrases associated with it: "Close the door," "Close the window," and "Close the drawer."

Q. What characters are contained in the Lite version?

A. The cat demonstrates all the actions in the animations.

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We hope you enjoy the First Phrases family of apps!

Check out First Phrases for a longer demo on YouTube!

First Phrases HD and First Phrases HD Lite for the iPad & iPhone are in the Apple App Store and iTunes

Single User: samples of the activities
99 cents!

Full version $15.99