Phonological Awareness Lab app review and giveaway!

PAL cover

***Deb Culbertson was the winner! 11/13/2014***

You know what I’m already thankful for this November?  Apps.  Not only have I had the chance to review and enjoy two goodies from Mobile Education Store, but I’ve also had an absolute ball trying out the latest from Smarty EarsPhonological Awareness Lab.

It caught my eye for two reasons.  The first is the mad scientist (I love a good mad scientist).  The second is that more and more often I find myself needing to support the classroom teacher’s lessons on phonemic awareness.  Too frequently my kiddos just don’t get it, or at least they aren’t getting it at the speed the rest of the class is.  (And that’s just the language issue kiddos.  Those with artic issues that are also confusing themselves as they struggle to match their sound to letters….let’s just say, if I get the long side of the wishbone I’m tempted to use it on that bunch!)

Put on your lab coats and let’s take a quick look around.

PAL map

As always, Smarty Ears apps allow you to easily add a player (including adding a photo or avatar) or you can import players from the therapy report center (it’s like your own database of players for all your Smarty Ears apps and can be a huge time saver).  Now we choose our activity.

PAL science exp

Sentence Experiment:   You listen to a sentence and touch the dropper for each WORD you hear.  The dropper provides reinforcement by filling the beaker below.   Once you’re done, touch the beaker to see if you are correct.  Audio reinforcement is provided for in/correct answers and little golden beakers keep track of your right answers.  Hit the play button (red arrow) to hear the sentence again.

PAL decoding

Decoding Room:  Here you have two options, blending syllables or blending sounds.  For this activity, there is a Frankenstein type monster that says either the syllables or sounds.  There are three pictured choices (also read aloud) and you select the picture that matches.

PAL rhyming id


PAL rhyming match

Rhyming Compound:  There are three levels in this section.  The first is Rhyming Identification which reads three words and you choose whether they all rhyme or don’t.  Rhyming Selection reads a word and asks you to find a rhyming match from a selection of four (all read aloud).  Finally, Rhyming Match reads seven words aloud (also pictured) and has the child select the four that rhyme.

PAL xray

Syllable X-Ray:  In this activity you are trying to find a word with number of syllables indicated on the “x-ray.”  You have the option in settings to have 2-4 answer choices with anywhere from 1-5 syllables (you can choose 2 or more syllable options).  I liked that when you chose an answer, the picture would “flip” and show you it’s x-ray so you could see if it matched.

Exiting any activity allows you to go to the Report Center and see your score(s) for the day as well as a graph of your overall accuracies.  Sharing options are provided.

Like many of the Smarty Ears apps, there are a lot of options in settings to really breakdown the skill which I appreciate.  They also do a superb job of reporting and sharing stats.  I found this particular app a little tricky to navigate sometimes.  If I found myself in an activity and needing to adjust to another it seemed to sometimes take a couple more steps than needed to get back to where I first started.  Also, I wished there was the option to “skip” a question for some activities.

This review is based on version 1.0 available for $14.99.  I was given a free copy for review, but the opinions expressed here are strictly my own.

I have a free copy to give away to a lucky winner!  To enter please leave a comment below letting us know which phonemic awareness skill you seem to work on most often (right now I’m on a rhyming streak).  You have until midnight EST on Wednesday November 12, 2014 to enter and I’ll draw the winner at random.  Good luck!


This Post Has 54 Comments

  1. Susan S.

    Decoding seems to be “it.”

  2. Ronnie Kaufman

    this app seems to be just what i need for my apraxic kids. I’ve used prompt method to effect correct production of target sounds, but these kids are really challenged with then matching the “sound” with the “written word”. I am definitely going to try this app. i have several other smarty ears apps. they are all relevant and appropriate for the kids on my caseload..
    Thanks for this review.
    I will let you know how it goes with my students.

  3. Sumi Wilson

    Identifying initial and final sounds

  4. Marie M

    I spend a lot of time working on multiple syllable words!

  5. Colleen Roganovich

    I seem to work on most of these skills. I just feel that reading and speech are so integrated that you shouldn’t work on one without working on the other. They go hand in hand. With that being said, it seems that rhyming and multiple syllables have been winning the race recently.

  6. Cassie

    I see this as a great app to help my apraxic students match letters to sounds, as well as students who have difficulty producing multi-syllabic words. This app looks awesome!

  7. Janna


  8. Hilary Nelson

    What a great app! Smarty Ears has done it again. I seem to have a huge caseload of Apraxia and Auditory Processing at our clinic these days, and this would be perfect for both. Rhyming, multi-syllabic words, phonemic awareness, word endings, prefixes, listening for an incorrect word in a sentence…… the list goes on.

  9. Marsha Dedrick

    Right now I am doing a lot of sound blending, especially in consonant blends in words.

  10. Myra Tishkoff

    I have an influx of auditory processing kiddos. Right now blending sounds and multi syllable words are in the forefront.

  11. Annette Macher

    Rhyming is always big!

  12. Christy

    Syllables. Segmenting and blending.

  13. Joan O'Brien

    Thanks for another chance to win, Kim. It’s all about the syllables for me right now!

  14. Erin M.

    Rhyming and syllables!

  15. Kim Hovey

    Segmenting syllables!

  16. Susie

    I am mostly working on rhyme and segmenting right now, but it varies as needs change. This looks like a great app!

  17. Lynda Ames-Smith

    Segmenting and manipulating sounds in words.

  18. Cindy

    i almost always do some phonological awareness with my artic kiddos. Rhyming is a biggie! I’d love to have this APP. (Sorry about the all caps, my caps lock button is stuck.)

  19. Judy

    Rhyming, multisyllabic words, sons blending, etc. Thanks for sharing this info.

  20. Shane

    Rhyming, rhyming, rhyming!

  21. patricianon


  22. Shannon Giles

    I’ve got students working on phoneme segmentation and blending. The app looks great!

  23. Connie franklin

    I have several apraxic K & 1 students, letter-sound assoc. sound blending and rhyming are three things we often do. Sounds like a great app!

  24. Kate Becker

    My students are working phoneme segmentation and blending right now.

  25. Marissa Patrick

    Multi-syllabic words and sound blending! Thanks for the great review!

  26. Emmaj


  27. DeNeal Toews


  28. Lita

    Rhyming is what I am targeting most. I would love to have this app.

  29. Pamela Mayfield

    I am also on a rhyming streak right now! 🙂

  30. Laura Nathan

    Segmenting, blending, and rhyming, oh my!

  31. Stephanie

    Mostly rhyming and phoneme manipulation. This app would be great for the students who have multiple artic errors. It is so comply seen that they have difficulty with foundational reading and readiness skills. Thanks for sharing!

  32. Julia Pellegrini

    I work a lot on segmenting and blending. I feel this gives non-readers “Super Powers” to turn it all around!

  33. Valarie

    Rhyming! I have a lot of kiddos this year really struggling with phonological awareness. I was very surprised to find out that many of them could not rhyme at all. This APP looks great and just what I need!

  34. Karen

    Multi syllabic words !!

  35. Leslie

    All of phonemic awareness is an issue at our school. I would have to pinpoint segmenting and breaking down multi-syllabic words.

  36. Connie

    I work on Multisyllabic words daily

  37. Meredith

    Love my other Smarty Ears apps! Rhyming seems to be “it” for me right now!

  38. Kymm Nesheim

    Multisyllabic words & complex clusters!

  39. Deb Culbertson

    I’ve been looking for a phonological awareness app. This one looks like a winner!

  40. Shamekia Mason


  41. Carla M

    Decoding. I work on Decoding with many age groups with various diagnoses.

  42. Trisha Delio


  43. Joy Glick

    Rhyming and decoding

  44. Melissa Mercer

    Thanks for the review! Phoneme substitution!

  45. Rosalia

    Rhyming and segmenting

  46. Debra J.

    I work with several Pre-School and Kindergarten level students who need to strengthen each of the Phonological Awareness skills found in this app. They would be very excited to complete the app activities as a break from our usual skill practice.

  47. Shari W.

    Segmenting and blending

  48. Jennifer

    Right now it’s multisyllabic words.

  49. Merrie S.

    Rhyming has been especially tricky for my littles this year.

  50. Lynda

    multi-syllabic words

  51. Danielle Faust

    Multisyllable words and marking final consonants!

  52. Denelee

    I’ve got a handful working on counting syllables

  53. Carolyn Branch

    Decoding and final sounds

  54. Leah


Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.