The app is designed to help children learn how to create syntactically correct basic and complex sentences using color-coded visual prompts. Users engage and learn that sentences are comprised of essential word groupings which are ordered to help provide information regarding who, what, where, and how information.
- Syntax: Shapiro (1997) discussed how “syntactic knowledge allows us to make judgments about reference…sameness of meaning… and recognize structural ambiguities.” The Rainbow Sentences app gives a colorful picture to reference in a sentence, offers opportunities to select appropriate semantics related to the prompt, and allows for identifying ambiguities when they incorrectly create a sentence.
- Semantics: Snider (1989) found typically developing children learn new vocabulary through reading rather than conversation. While other research suggests expression/narratives work hand-in-hand with reading, Rainbow sentences offers opportunities to learn vocabulary given a context (picture), text, and repetition. As the child touches the sentence components, a voice reads it; once finished, they can hit ‘play’ and hear the sentence again. 3rd times a charm!
- Semantic Relationships: Brackenbury & Pye (2005) discussed evidence suggesting children with language impairments do not struggle with using syntactic clues to extract meaning. Therefore, by using their relative strength in syntax to build up semantic difficulties can be helpful. Rainbow Sentences uses consistent syntactic forms (subject + verb + object) which offers a ‘map’ children can follow when introduced to new vocabulary in various contexts.
- Complex Sentences: The app encourages production of complex sentences, which is hard to do in children who are satisfied with productions like “I like lamp” or “I need to pee.”. Children with language disorders tend to use simple noun phrases (the cat) which lack adjectives, prepositions, spatial terms (behind the cat), and simple modifiers (that cat) (McCormick & Loeb, 2003).
- Application of Skills: A receptive task where students must identify the who, what (doing), where, and why parts of the sentence with and without color cues. An expressive task using the picture prompts and covering the text to allow the student to create sentences, guess/ID which color code components should be, and then compare to the model.
What I Like
- 165 colorful images for creating sentences
- Easy to navigate and quick start
- Creating users to track individual progress and pick up where each client previously left off.
- Modifying prompts, settings, and complexity as a child’s needs change.
- Recording and emailing audio of the child expressing the sentence. Great for analyzing structure in following sessions and progress monitoring.
- Each picture offers a quick, audio-visual recording on how to construct the sentence.
- Multiple settings to change the level of prompting. Turn on/off instructions, line color, word color, and whether or not the words are grouped or not (see below for example of word grouping).
- Because the pictures are illustrations, I would limit the apps use to clients under the age of 10-12, depending on development and level of functioning (see references below for similar teen-friendly app).
Overall, Rainbow Sentences is an excellent tool for SLPs to use with children developing langauge skills such as creating simple and complex sentences, including semantic relationship vocabulary (temporal, causal, spatial), and increasing overall vocabulary.
Suggestions for Updates
- Verb Tenses: Currently the only verb tense I’ve noticed on all levels is present progressive (playing, swimming). I would like the option to include past tense regular and irregular verbs, future tense, etc. Research has shown -ing endings are a relative strength for children developing language (Redmond & Rice, 2001; Rice, Warren, & Betz, 2005), while auxillary verbs, articles, and pronouns are more difficult for students with language disorders (Bates, 2003; Eisenberg, 2005; Rice, Warren, & Betz, 2005).
- Recording and Saving Audio: After each sentence task, the option to record, save, and email an audio file is available. After recording, the app prompts you to name the file continuing. I would like the app option to auto-name files based on the picture prompt to save time. Or the option to not prompt to record at all would be nice.
Mobile Education Store Video Tutorial for Rainbow Sentences
- Other Reviews via Cindy Meester, SLP, iHeartThisApp
- Shapiro, L. P. (1997). Tutorial: An introduction to syntax. Journal Of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 40(2), 254-272.
- For more teen/adult-friendly illustrations to facilitate sentence construction, check out Sentence Builder Teen (only $5.99) by the same developer, Mobile Education Store.
I did receive a free copy of Rainbow Sentences, however, the opinions, evidence referenced, and suggestions are my own.