Fun & Functional – A Review

Fun & Functional

by Smarty Ears 


The app was designed to target identifying and describing nouns. In addition, within the description the developer notes it has the potential to help increase descriptive vocabulary to aid in increased language comprehension and literacy (Bromley, 2007).

Price: $9.99

home screen pic

The Workings:

The app has both an expressive and receptive mode depending on the goals to be targeted. There are 10 categories that can be turned on and off to your preferences. The prompt for an expressive item allows for an open ended answer using a picture for context; while the prompt for a receptive tasks offers a selection of 2,3, or 4 pictured items.

Things I Like: 

  • Consistent question types allow for easier instruction on what type of response is required from client. (Like the above activity)
  • Alternating receptive-expressive provides an example response during the receptive question to serve as a model for the expressive section. To make it more challenging, simply select expressive only.
  • Under settings, users can change what happens if a client selects a wrong choice: Keep going, remove the item, or buzz.
  • I like the line-drawing style of the pictures since I use this app for targeting expressive tasks and sentence creation.

Things to add or change: 

  • The option to move back and forth between items. Currently, once you score an item and select next, you cannot go back. 
  • Addition of more categories such as “School” to include commonly observed items (even if they appear in other categories).
  • Ability to re-read an item by touching the photo. It only reads the question once, and cannot be repeated.
  • The line-drawings may be difficult for some children who need more concrete, contextual examples. Trial and error.

Activity Idea:

The app is straightforward in its purpose and design. However, I will share how I introduce an activity to expand the app’s purpose. I  introduce a visual prompt for sentence creation in response to an expressive item. For instance, if the question was “What do we do with a pillow”, the appropriate response, in a complete sentence should be “A pillow is used to lay my head on.” Selecting the keyword as the subject of the response, then using an appropriate verb can be difficult in the beginning. Using the sentence prompts below (above screen shot), have the student practice during initial trials with the app. Identify the noun (i.e. pillow), then place in the appropriate portion of the response (i.e. see arrows). This activity may help older, elementary students create more complex sentences and increase vocabulary with the proper facilitation by a Speech-Language Pathologist.

fun functional activity

pillow expressive


  1. Bromley, K. (2007) Nine things every teacher should know about words and vocabulary instruction [Full Text]. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(7), 528-537.
  2. Loeb, D., Pye, C., Redmond, S., & Richardson, L. (1996). Eliciting verbs from children with specific language impairment. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 5(4), 17–30.

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