Monday, February 23, 2015


Sentopiary ($4.99) is a new and very interesting app from one of the creators of Popplet (a favorite of mine) that has nice potential for use in targeting complex syntax. With Sentopiary, you can explore sentence building with students within two modes:
-The "create a sentence" mode lets you build leveled sentences (e.g. at level 1 with articles, nouns, pronouns and present-tense verbs whereas when you increase difficulty, tenses, adjectives, prepositional phrases and adverbs come into play)
-Similarly, the leveled "challenge" mode asks you to recreate a sentence using the above grammatical categories.

Check out this video to see how it works.

SENTOPIARY - Create - A Hungry Bull from eeiioo on Vimeo.

Sentopiary is fun and engaging, as well as aligning with research demonstrating the importance of phrase elaboration for development of literate language. Kahmi (2014) states "There are three basic ways to make sentences more complex: (a) noun phrase elaboration, (b) verb phrase elaboration, and (c) conjoined and embedded clauses." This app includes contexts for (a) and (b), but not (c)- so I wrote to the developer and requested that they consider this! They promised to do so for future updates.

Kahmi also writes "My general principle for targeting complex syntax in therapy is this: Target the meanings and/or functions conveyed by the syntactic structure rather than the structure itself"- i.e. to make the intervention pragmatically appropriate. This app would seem to contradict that principle with its emphasis on labeling the structures. However, the metalinguistic aspects do align with curriculum goals (e.g. identifying nouns and verbs) and clinicians can easily incorporate strategies to emphasize meaning as I often recommend "around the app" such as:
-incorporating sketching or visualization strategies about constructed sentences and at the same time increasing bombardment/elicitation of the structure.
-utilizing the app's potential for absurdity in constructing sentences.

So check out Sentopiary- looks like a great tool for a wide age range!


  1. Thanks for the overview - I may now spring for the $5 to play with it a little more. I can use this app as an example of how to use low frequency nouns as "pivots" for high frequency core words. I also appreciate the pointer to the Kahmi article which I hadn't seen; so many articles, so little time!

    1. Dudes- that whole issue is a treasure- got to see all the authors in a panel at ASHA 2014.

  2. Looks like a great app at a great price for developing syntax. I like that this app is geared for older students. So many of the syntax apps are for elementary students. Thanks for the review.

    1. Good point Annie- not much that adds more complexity for older students!