Expanding Language Through Apps-Helicopter Taxi


Expanding Language Through Apps
We all have seen fun apps, apps that teach the basics like letter, numbers, coloring and game apps.  Is there more? I think so. The Toca Boca development company has a series of apps that are unique in their delivery and especially great for stimulating language expression. Never mind that, they will crack your kids up and keep them begging to play again and again. In a previous article about apps for kids on the spectrum, I highlighted two of their apps, Toca Doctor and Toca Hair Salon. Today I want to share with you a truly different app- Helicopter Taxi. This app is a “virtual app” in the silliest sense. Like all Toca Boca apps, there is no talking, that right NO talking in the app, no directions spoken, no overwhelming sounds, points to earn or levels to achieve. Kids have free rein to act out events by following picture cues within a successful environment. In Helicopter Taxi ($1.99), Rita and Skip pilot a helicopter with your child steering the trip. The “scenery” of the flight is your own living room! The app uses the camera feature of the iPad2 as the background for play. The apps shows on the screen the six locations your child needs to fly to where they will either pickup or drop off a passenger. The opportunities to talk about where you are flying to, what you see on your way and where you landed are plentiful. I have produced some low- tech materials to enhance the experience and help children with limited language and decreased memory skills to plan their “fights”. Below are three pages that can be downloaded and used with Helicopter Taxi. These are Google docs so you must have a free Google account in order to download. Directions for how to use the pages are included with the pictures on the second doc.
ENJOY! I would love to hear how you used the pages and what language your child was able to express while playing. I can be reached at
sue@communik-9.com or through this Blog if you’d like to share. Click here to preview Helicopter Taxi 

Boardmaker .pdf files @


UPDATED: OK Just checked the docs and the text did not transfer but the pictures are good so here’s the Directions for use: 
These pictures show the 2/6 locations indicated on the Helicopter Taxi screen during play. Laminate, cut apart as shown and fold in half to produce little “triangles.” Before the helicopter takes off, instruct the child to map out their locations around the house by placing the location markers in various locations.
Sample Discussions using the location markers and related communication board
·      Prompt language rich conversations by talking about:
various rooms of the house, in the kitchen, on the porch
·      use prepositions to identify specific locations example, “Where is the beach? “in the living room next to the couch”
·      use third person singular verbs (s) to describe what the helicopter taxi does, he flies, lands, picks up, drops off, goes, the passenger calls, to etc
·      use of recent regular and irregular past tense, I flew to ______, I wentto ______, I took off from _____, I landed at the _____, I pickedup___, the passenger got on, got off, called the pilot
·      address time by sequencing the flights, “First I went to the beach then I flew to _____, next I ______ and finally I flew to _____.”
·      Brainstorm possible reasons why the passenger traveled from location to location. Make up stories to match “Why did she go to the beach? Because she wanted to swim.” Why did she go to the hospital? Because she got stung by a bee at the beach.”

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