In today's world it's easy to find yourself between a tablet and a hard place. As SLPs, educators, and parents, we want kids to use screens in educational and beneficial ways. However, digital media isn't always associated with quality, communicative interactions and educational experiences. It's easy to feel that the struggle between people and media regularly ends with technology declaring a victory, imprisoning everyone involved.
What about wordless media?
Wordless picture books offer limitless opportunities for readers to engage in the story on their own terms, at their own level. Illustrations may provide a guide, but the story and the language used to tell it, are in the eye of the storyteller. Likewise, wordless digital media may be an ideal addition to your own app toolbox.
But first, a few things to keep in mind...
1. People have the power to turn any experience into a communicative one. When it comes to technology and digital media use, this simple strategy is a powerful tool in helping you increase communicative value - Play It, Pause It, Talk About It, and Repeat!
2. One of the great things about technology is that, as the user, you have greater control in customizing the media to suit your needs. So, if the background music is too loud or distracting, simply turn it down or off entirely. You have the power to make digital content wordless.
3. All of the following video links are via YouTube. If you're around kids these days, you probably already know how much they like watching YouTube! So, in some cases, you may find the YouTube video itself, is all you need at the moment.
4. Finally, the following are examples and do not constitute a product endorsement. See disclaimer.
Ask SLPs to share their favorite apps and Toca Boca is almost always found on the list. Who knows exactly why, but it probably has something to do with the fact that Toca Boca is dedicated to the "undeniable, power of play." Beyond just play, Toca Boca is committed to the ideals of innovation, quality, and inclusion. Kids have the time and opportunity to discover, explore, imagine, and create within each of these apps. Check out the Toca Universe for yourself.
Imagistory is a wordless picture book app allowing you to transform traditional wordless story experiences into digital ones. Not only can kids tell their own stories, but they can record and share their stories with others.
In my experience, the Peekaboo apps by Night and Day Studios are always a fan favorite (for both kids and adults). Although they are simple apps, the app gives users the time and space to talk about each animal, imitate their sounds, and enjoy the communicative contributions and interactions of those involved in the media experience.
Wordless videos present a stronger story format (i.e., introduction, problem, attempts to resolve the problem, and a resolution). Unlike wordless apps, the audience doesn’t have the freedom to explore the digital environment on their own. Instead they must follow along as the story is presented in the video. This is where pausing the story comes in handy, offering users the time to talk about the story, exploring their own observations and thoughts as the story unfolds. Wordless videos often present users with the option to repeat all or part of the video.
Shaun the Sheep
This claymation series from the UK features a group of sheep living on a country farm, complete with a farmer and herding dog. Their antics are always good fun. But whether you're using a series or a short, the possibilities are limitless.
Because there is no dialogue, the story and character interactions are conveyed through other modalities. Background music, sound effects, character chatter, facial expressions, body language, etc. offer insight into the more subtle aspects of the storyline.
That's where it gets good... because it's up to you and the other viewers to create any needed dialogue (perfect to fit your therapy needs and goals)!
Stories with multiple characters provide opportunities for viewers to take on the dialogue of individual characters ideal for role playing.
Some stories don't offer opportunities for dialogue, but they are ideal for story narration.
Videos can also facilitate hands-on, carry-over activities. Who doesn't love exploring the adhesive qualities of tape?
Dig around YouTube and you can easily find a variety of wordless videos. The best part is you that you can find a genre and storyline that may fit not only the interests of the audience but also targeted learning objectives.
What are your favorite wordless
media videos and products?