Featured App: Read with Phonzy by MeowTek

iPad Screenshot 2

Read With PhonzyRead with Phonzy by MeowTek is a free universal app for iOS which features speech recognition to understand how well kids pronounced words using a character named Phonzy who provides prompts on the words.  The app requires that you opt in via email to use it and understand the terms and conditions.  It utilizes speech technology which recognizes and assesses the specific word that you are focusing on in the sentence.  It works best with children and does work well in a noisy environment like a busy home or a place where there is background noise.  As children pronounce words correctly, they can unlock the word which is then put into a gallery.  It also helps kids build confidence in reading (especially sight words) and improves skills of sentence building and thinking quickly.  We tested the app in a variety of environments including with a television on in the background, at a local park and in a classroom with other children.  Each time Phonzy was able to zero in and understand the words being spoken without picking up the ambient noise.

iPad Screenshot 4

One of the great things for me about the app was that I could help my son focus in on specific word types which he would learn and then as he got better with the pronunciation we were able to go back and re-listen to where he might have previously stumbled.  The app helps you correctly pronounce words and encourages children to read out loud – without a lot of corrections “in the moment” which then helps to build self confidence and sounding out skills.  MeowTek collects the audio recordings to improve the speech technology of the app and increase recognition, but no personal information about your child is collected.  Phonzy currently focuses on key words and important phrases, with the end goal of understanding the entire sentence.  The app is PRIVIO certified which means that MeoTek has COPPA compliant privacy practices to protect your child’s information and the verification via email is the method of ensuring that a parent understands that their child is using the app.

To use the app, Phonzy presents the user with a simple sentence similar to the one above with one specific word highlighted.  Your child reads and records the sentence and if the highlighted word is pronounced correctly, you get the object which is then placed in your gallery.  The words presented are appropriate for children from late kindergarten through mid-elementary school or approximately end of grade 3 according to the ones that I saw.  My son gained huge amounts of confidence when reading with Phonzy aloud because I wasn’t always trying to correct him and he didn’t feel “pressured” to perform on the spot.  My son liked that Phonzy would recognize his words most of the time and that he could easily re-record them as needed.

iPhone Screenshot 2

Phonzy is currently working to understand additional speech and speech recognition technology.  Currently, Phonzy is programmed to understand the specific highlighted words, very occasionally he will misunderstand a user however, as my son used the app more we found that Phonzy was correct in 18/20 trials.  The data collected from the app is made anonymous and is used to build and improve on speech recognition technology, it is never shared with any third parties and neither are the actual recordings.  I also loved that I could save the sentences that my son was saying and share them with his speech therapist to show his progress over time.

Overall, this is a great free app that encourages children to increase the number of words that they can read and earn some fun gallery prizes doing so.  It was a great self confidence booster for my son who struggled at times reading out loud and now has built up some confidence as he works through using the app and practicing new words.  We also liked knowing that we were helping Meowtek improve their speech recognition technology and perhaps, learn from some of the challenges that my son was having.



Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB


Also available on Google Play and Amazon

NOTE:  This post was sponsored by Meowtek but all opinions expressed are mine and are given honestly

Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

News: Successful Dyslexics Pen Red Letters for Awareness



Successful Dyslexics Pen Red Letters for Awareness

What do author Jackie French, Olympian Alex Edmondson and Philanthropist David Pescud all have in common?

They have all overcome the struggles of dyslexia to achieve great success in their fields. They have also all written their own Red Letters in support of the Make it a Red Letter day campaign that is raising awareness for dyslexia and shining a light on the changes that are long overdue in the Australian Education system.
Jackie French, an award-winning Australian author, writes a letter to her fellow dyslexics, encouraging them to never give up and to soar! She tells them that even though school is hard they can achieve anything they want if they follow their passions and work hard.  Read Jackie’s letter.

“If you’re dyslexic you have two choices: you can give up, or be determined, learn to focus, learn to work. Because we’ve had to do that, dyslexics who don’t give up tend to be very, very good at what we do. Talent is common. Genius is talent plus determination. There’s a good chance you’re going to have that.” – Jackie French


alexAlex Edmondson, an Olympic cyclist, writes about his struggles through school but by having a supportive family and finding his passion he has gone on to achieve more than his wildest dreams.  Read Alex’s letter.

“If you are struggling with dyslexia and you want to throw the towel in that’s all normal, but what you need to do is stand up and say to yourself, “You know what, I am better than this and I can overcome it.” – Alex Edmondson


pescudDavid Pescud, founder of Sailors with disABILITIES, discusses the importance of mindset and having positive experiences. He believes schools should prepare us for our future, to get us ready to go into the world as young adults, with tools that are appropriate to our needs whatever they may be.  Read David’s letter.

“For the responsibility of our children future lies with us all. If you cannot help, then get out of the way, because we are about making a difference.” – David Pescud


Jackie, Alex & David have written their Red Letters alongside parents and children that are advocating for change. As a community, dyslexics and their families are banding together to have their voices heard.

The ‘Make it a Red Letter Day Campaign’ is aiming to raise awareness and create discussion in the broader community, the media as well as political and education leaders. The campaign encourages everyone who is touched by dyslexia, parents, siblings, teachers and tutors to also write their own red letters to help show all sides of living with dyslexia.

To read inspiring letters and learn more about the campaign and competition please go to  http://www.myredletter.com.au/

The ‘Make it a Red Letter Day’ Competition and Campaign runs until October 22nd  2016, has been organised in conjunction with the ‘Light it Red for Dyslexia’ event to be held nationally on October 15, 2016, as part of World Dyslexia Day.

The two events coincide with Dyslexia Empowerment Week (16th to the 22nd October).

The ‘Make it a Red Letter Day’ Campaign and Competition are volunteer initiatives by the combined national Dyslexia Support Groups to raise awareness and create change for dyslexia across Australia. The colour red was chosen to reclaim and empower dyslexic students who all too often see ‘red’ in a negative way on their school work and assignments.

‘Make it a Red Letter Day’ competition encourages children (aged 5 to 18) touched by Dyslexia (diagnosed or suspected) to write a heartfelt ‘Red letter’ about dyslexia (without spelling or grammar correction) to someone they believe could influence change, e.g., a politician, teacher, principal, the media or someone famous. Although ‘written letters’ are the intended medium, for inclusion purposes children will also be able to submit their entries in other mediums (such as film, art, dance) – allowing for dyslexic creativity.

Our Sponsors have donated over $10,000 worth of prizes, and the competition will be judged by the 2015 Senior Australian of the Year, Author and proud Dyslexic Jackie French.




Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda – Review

Square Panda Phonics Playset

What we love…

ability to use a multisensory approach to learning letters which includes apps and physical letters placed on the playset to form words; included parental dashboard to track your kids progress

What we’d love to see…

ability to customize words in all apps, a mobile friendly version of the Square Panda Playground website


The Square Panda Phonics Playset is a great demonstration of how you can use your iPad and integrated playset to provide learning both on the screen and using tactile letters to complete a goal – I can’t wait to see what else this company will bring.

Our Rating



The Square Panda Phonics Playset by Square Panda which features a bluetooth enabled playset to engage kids in learning a variety of activities from learning letters, spelling, letter sounds, rhymes, learning new vocabulary words and more.  The set consists of 45 Smart Letters, a Playset box which you pair to your iPad and holds your device while in use, access to the Square Panda Playground where you can manage a parent account, see information about your child’s progress and additional learning opportunities as well as 4 AA Batteries.  The Square Panda Playset requires either iPad 3, iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro in order to run and you must be running iOS 8.x and above.  The Square Panda Phonics Playset provides a multisensory tactile learning experience which combines content on your iPad with letters and visuals within the app. It includes 14 levels of phonics play as well as an integrated dashboard to track progress.

Setup is quick and easy.  First, you set up an account on Square Panda with your email and other information.  That gives you access to the parental dashboard.  After that you can unpack the Phonics Playset, install the 4 included AA batteries, download the apps and be using them within 10 or less minutes.  I spent some time in the Square Panda Playground website because I wanted to check out the features there.  There are so many great things!  You can add your own custom words including your child’s name – and for me when I last had my son use the playset I included words from his spelling list that week!  When you enter custom words they are put into your child’s games and you can even upload a picture to go with them!  Words must be between 1-8 characters, so more complex spelling words won’t work here, however, it’s a great way to practice.  The Square Panda Playground also lets you choose words for specific types of situations like bathroom and body anatomy as well as even excluding a specific letter if you misplaced it from the playset.  You can also block specific types of words if you wish which gives you a great level of customization.

iPad Screenshot 1

The playset includes 45 smart letters.  Vowels are yellow and consonants are yellow to make for easier differentiation between the letter types.  These all stored inside the playset case when not in use.  You can have up to three players per playset, and the content dynamically changes depending on which user is selected so with my 2 year old we are simply working on even identifying letters while with my 8 year old he is working on spelling words and earning badges.  The Square Panda Playset includes access to two apps, and one of the two apps Square Panda Lagoon allows you to use the custom words that you have created.   Square Panda Bowling (above) has you bowl with your finger to knock down the pins and spell out words.  It combines a multi-sensory approach where you do an activity, get a letter with your finger on your iPad and then properly place it in the try to spell the word.  Kids are taught to spell words correctly from left to right which is the way that The National Reading Panel recommends as well as the way that reading is taught in school.

iPad Screenshot 4

First of all – this is not the plastic letters that I grew up with!  Many of us may remember growing up and having the magnetized letters that we used to spell things on our refrigerator.  I loved that the app required letters to be correct before allowing you to move on.  Letters are placed individually in a white box at the bottom of the playset.  The must be positioned correctly and placed on the playset in the correct order.  The photo above is from Square Panda Lagoon and includes a photo as well as the word below to reinforce learning.

It isn’t often as a mom that I find a toy that both my 2 year old and 8 year old can use.  One of my favorite things about the Square Panda Playset is the level of customization that is included especially with the Square Panda Lagoon.  I can see it is a great way to practice “trick words” or words my son might be having challenges with at school and having a great way to keep track of what he is learning in terms of letters.  With my 2 year old, we can work on understanding letters and teaching him that my iPad is a learning device.  I also liked that we could store the letters inside the playset which meant that they were not misplaced the next time we went to use it.  I use a Griffin Survivor case on my iPad Mini because even though it’s “mom’s iPad” my kids use it a lot and I loved that we could leave on the protective case even when it was in use with the Square Panda Playset, this isn’t always the case with other products on the market.  I really liked the Square Panda Playground where I could keep track of what my kids were doing with the apps – I knew what my 2 year old was doing because we were playing together but with my older son I usually help him learn how to use something and then let him try and figure it out on his own.  I liked seeing the badges of the items he accomplished as well as the ability to add in the custom words for his spelling list that week!

In terms of enhancements, I wish that both of the apps included the ability to use custom words, my son enjoyed rolling the bowling ball in Square Panda Bowling more than the Square Panda Lagoon game – I’m not sure why he preferred it more other than he enjoys bowling, so having the two app options was great.  Square Panda is planning to add more apps Letter Lab.  I hope that they include the ability to use custom words in this app.  I’d also like to see a mobile friendly version of the Square Panda Playground – I don’t often get time to sit down at my computer so I was trying to look at it on my iPad and it wasn’t as user friendly as I would have liked.

Play with letters and words today...

The Square Panda Phonics Playset is a great demonstration of how you can use your iPad and integrated playset to provide learning both on the screen and using tactile letters to complete a goal – I can’t wait to see what else this company will bring.  The Square Panda Phonics Playset retails for $119 USD and includes a standard one year parts and labor if the letters malfunction or the product itself malfunctions.  It can be purchased from Square Panda for $119 USD.


This is not your mom’s letter playset.  This is a fun and interactive toy which can be used by younger and older children and can customize and provide data about what your child is learning.  It is a true demonstration of what the iPad can do versus other tablets on the market.


Square Panda Lagoon Square Panda Lagoon by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

A goofy chameleon with a love for dancing introduces children to letter sounds and phonics in a fun way as kids learn to spell independently. This game tracks individual spelling progress and adapts the.

Square Panda Bowling Square Panda Bowling by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

STRIKE! Letters meet their match in a bowling alley on a faraway island! With every roll of the coconut ball, your child learns the relationships between letters, sounds, and words. Compatible with the.

Square Panda Farming Square Panda Farming by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

Help Old MilkDonald plant, grow, and harvest fruits and vegetables in Square Panda Farming!

When placing Square Panda smart letters in the Square Panda Playset, children learn the alphabet, explore.

Square Panda Space Cows Square Panda Space Cows by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

It's a bird, it's a plane it's... alien UFOs beaming up cows! Compatible with the Square Panda Phonics Playset, children place smart letters in the tray to learn the alphabet, explore letter sounds, and.

Square Panda Fishing Square Panda Fishing by Square Panda Inc

Price: $FREE

What's the best catch in the icy arctic lake? Learning about letters! In Square Panda Fishing, children reel in their fishing line for a chance to catch letter fish! With each fish that they catch, they.

Video demonstration

NOTE: A product was supplied by the company for review purposes, no other form of compensation was received, all opinions stated in the review are those of the author and have been offered honestly.



If you would like to win a Square Panda Phonics playset , please enter via the widget below. Winners will be emailed and must contact The iMums within 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to to those with a valid US mailing address, and an iTunes account is required to claim the prize. Please ensure you have read and understand our Terms & Conditions. Good luck!

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Alison, the American iMum is from Massachusetts. She lives there with her two sons and husband. In their spare time, they enjoy playing outside, enjoying nature and of course testing apps and fantastic products on their devices. My older son loves technology and loves testing out the “latest and newest” apps and tech. I love sharing information about apps and products with others to help them make decisions without feeling overwhelmed with all of the choices.

Rhetoric Public Speaking by John Zimmer and Florian Mueck – Review


What we love…

Various options for narrative formation.

What we’d love to see…

Ability to choose/skip topics or make your own, option to record speeches for review, a junior version of the app.


A public speaking board game that presents lots of possibilities in practicing expressive language and narratives. Particularly useful for older children or adult clients in speech therapy.

Our Rating

Rhetoric Public Speaking Game is an app developed by the creators of Rhetoric-The Public Speaking Game (John Zimmer and Florian Mueck). The original board game was released in 2012 and was a huge success. It was made to help those with a desire to increase public speaking skills. The creators have now released an app that reflects the benefits of the board game. The purpose of this review will be to write about how this app can be used by Speech Language Pathologists in therapy.

When I first looked at the app, my impression was that this is for much older players. The description was more about how to prepare for debates and public speaking engagements. As I explored and played through, I realized that there are many ways to adapt it for practicing expressive language and narratives. The app needs to be monitored and set up by an adult, which is actually a good thing, as it encourages interactions between the clinician and the student.

Game play itself is relatively easy. The game can be played by 2 to 8 people at a time. A great feature is that the game supports multiple different languages (English, Spanish, French, German and Catalan; with more languages to come). Default time is set to a minimum of 1 minute, but can be adjusted to 2 minutes. There are 2 styles to the game, competitive or not. In the competitive mode, the other players are the ones that determine the score. In therapy, this can be useful in teaching the kids how to give constructive criticism and even compliments.

Opening the app results in a black home page with no illustrations. 3 options are there: Rules, Play and About. Of course, it is really important to read the rules before even trying to play. If you go straight to play option, you will be lost. The rule section is long and somewhat complicated, as it explains each space on the game board. Right from this page, I knew that I would need to create a cheat sheet to have handy during play.

The game begins with an “audience” waiting to hear speeches. Each speaker has a marker, poised at the “entrance”. The players roll a dice, move to a space on the board, on which they are asked to participate in a speech task according to 4 categories – Topic, Challenge, Question, Reflection. The game continues until a player exits the “stage”.

When your marker lands on Topic, you pick a card that gives you the topic of your speech. Then you need to create your narrative to include one of 6 fields or tasks: Tell a story, Use a quote, Evoke the Senses, Draw an Analogy, Use Humor, Call to Action. Each of these is explained in the rules section (hence, the cheat sheet). If your marker stops at Challenge, you have to respond to that specific challenge (e.g. You are the host of a TV game show. Introduce the other players as the contestants).

When you land on Question, any player can ask you a question about anything and you have to structure your answer based on the result of your spin on the Wheel of Structure. Structures like ‘Good, Better, Best’; ‘Bad, Worse, Worst’; ‘Past, Present, Future’; ‘One, Two, Three’ and ‘Pros and Cons’ help you organize your thoughts and deliver an impressive speech. One last area is Reflection, where you can choose to talk about anything within the time limit.


Once the game starts, it is pretty intuitive, with the speaker just having to tap a card to bring you to the next “task”. Card selection is random, so you never know what will pop up. Subjects range from appropriate for younger kids, to rather older in nature (speak about something in the room to deliver your own eulogy). It would be nice to be able to customize the cards for the target population. Once you are ready to speak, the timer is revealed and when speech is completed you tap the check mark to end your turn. Play continues with the next speaker.


As you can see, once you are familiar with the different spaces on the board and the different tasks, the app can actually be a lot of fun. In therapy, I would delay the actual speaking part to help the student create a visual BrainFrame or use components of other narrative programs (SKILLS, SGM) to help organize thoughts and create a narrative. I would also limit the tasks that they can choose from, to make it more appropriate for the clients playing the game. An option that I would change to help with this idea, is to allow the speaker to use a field more than once. Recording the students while speaking would also be a great asset to therapy. The clinician can go back and review the elements of the narrative that were covered or missed.

Getting students to actually use expressive language in a structured activity is a difficult task at the best of times. The chance to incorporate this skill into a board game is an excellent addition to treatment. Students react well to electronics and the somewhat competitive board game nature of Rhetoric. There is also no real “judgements” made about the speech which is great.


I can also see the validity of working with adult aphasia clients that have been in therapy for a while. They too would probably like the game nature of this app. I would think the stress level of having to create narratives will be lessened by having topics and structures presented to them. If possible, recording the narrative to go back and review would be great as well.

There are a lot of things I like about this app (if used with the right demographics). The different language options is for sure a really big plus. The multiple player setup is great for group sessions. The simple design of the board game makes it easy to play and allows the clients to move ahead towards the finish quickly. There are multiple different options for narrative formation. The non-competitive version of the game allows for excellent client feedback and gives the clinician lots of opportunities for direct teaching of narrative formation.

What I would like to see is the ability to choose the topics for the speeches or even to make your own. Another option is for the developers to make a junior version. That would be awesome!!!! I would like to be able to skip a card if it doesn’t seem appropriate. The developers have mentioned that more languages and specific theme topics are coming soon so then maybe then it will be easier to choose. I would also like to see an option to record the speeches to review later.

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Rhetoric Public Speaking Game

Rhetoric Public Speaking Game Rhetoric Public Speaking Game by John Zimmer
Category: Games, Education, Board
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone3GS-iPhone-3GS, iPhone4-iPhone4, iPodTouchFourthGen-iPodTouchFourthGen, iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74, iPhone8-iPhone8, iPhone8Plus-iPhone8Plus, iPhoneX-iPhoneX, iPad75-iPad75, iPad76-iPad76
Size: 85.81 MB




Lisa is a Speech Language Pathologist who has been working in an inclusive school system for over 32 years. She works with children that have issues in all areas of speech and language. She loves her work and is always looking for ways to integrate technology.

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