Articulation/Phonology with Toca Life World

This is how I spent so much money on Toca Life World: each addon you buy gives you new items in your house “store” (accessed by touching the blue chair button once you’re inside one of the houses in the neighborhood where you can build them). I prefer getting my articulation targets from there (rather than gathering them from the other locations) because they’re so much easier to replace if I need to. I use the doors from the Snuggle Cubs Furniture Pack (which costs $0.99) to keep items for each phoneme in because they don’t get “buggy” as often as the boxes and cabinets do. For each target phoneme I found 10 items with the phoneme in various positions. For /r/ (my most common target) I gathered 10 items for each position and I keep them in one of the suitcases to keep them organized.

Side note: Before I start using Toca Life World to target articulation/phonology with a patient I use minimal pair cards (from the original Sound Contrasts in Phonology/SCIP CD that’s no longer available to purchase except from eBay) until the patient reaches 80% accuracy with phoneme segmentation or phoneme prolongation.

Here’s my tutorial on how I use Toca Life World for articulation. This also gives you ideas of how long it takes me to go from recording these videos to publishing them!

When I start using Toca Life World for articulation I pull each item from the shelf and have the child repeat the word after me (often with phoneme prolongation or phoneme segmentation to start and then without either once they get more accurate). Once they’re able to do that with 80% accuracy I’ll start asking them what each item is so that they’re producing the words without a model to imitate. Once they achieve 80% accuracy at the word level without imitation I’ll start doing different things with the items like putting them in the hands of Toca Mrs. Amy or the Toca version of the patient and asking questions like, “What’s happening?” I find that’s the best way to get children to say sentences like, “You’re holding a rat” or “I ate rice.”

Note: Yes, I skip the phrase level. I’ve yet to find a patient who’s unable to produce a target sound at the sentence level after mastering it at the word level. For younger children I’ll use shorter sentences, but I haven’t had a patient who needed the phrase level instead.

This single room has curtains, a picture of flowers, a treasure chest, a trundle bed, and a frog to work on /r/!

Once my patients have reached more than 80% accuracy at the sentence level I move on to conversation. For this I’ll go into the various locations that I bought in Toca Life World and I try to make it relevant to the season. For example, I’m currently using the ski slopes, ski lodge, and ice skating rink since it’s winter, but I recorded my tutorial in October and I was using the Haunted Mansion. Every location has parts to explore and I keep my ears open for each child’s target phonemes as we’re exploring. For example, while working on /r/ at the haunted mansion I found costumes for the children and then asked, “Is that all we do on Halloween?” to elicit sentences like, “No, then we go trick or treating.” Then once we’re at the haunted mansion’s door I asked, “Now we’ll just stand here, right?” to elicit, “We need to ring the doorbell.” Once we get our candy I then tell the kids we should explore the mansion. Under the sink we found recipes using the gross food in the house so I ask, “Do you think these are puzzles?” to elicit “No, they’re recipes.” Once we open the chest in the downstairs bedroom and find the radio I ask, “Is this a TV?” to elicit something like, “It’s a radio.” Once we open the sculpture’s head I ask, “What should we do with the button, just look at it?” to elicit “Press it.” Once the bookshelf opens I say, “Is that an owl up in the corner?” to elicit, “It’s a spider.” Then once we’re ready to go upstairs I’ll say something like, “I want to go upstairs but I can’t find any stairs.” to elicit, “Use the elevator.” Once we’re upstairs I try to elicit treasure chest, but often fail. To open the secret door I’ll say, “These things in frames are dogs right?” to elicit “They’re pictures.” If kids need more help I’ll say, “This is a dog, and this is a dog, and this is a dog” while moving each picture in turn. Then I’ll move one of the monsters and say something like, “This is a regular person, right?” to elicit “It’s a monster.” I think you get the point – I make a lot of intentional mistakes to elicit the target words with the phoneme the child is working on at the conversation level.

For December I’m using the ski slopes and ice skating rink addons for conversation level. Since I haven’t started using it yet I’m sorry to say I don’t yet have ideas for targets! One of these days I’ll compile targets for my most common phonemes for each location.

Here are some more ideas for addressing articulation in play-based activities.

And here are some more ideas for using Toca Life World in speech & language treatment.