For 2020, we are posting monthly blogs that talk about our current favorite tool, tip, or trick related to speech, language, and/or communication. Last month, in the middle of flu season, we professed our love and dependence on disinfecting wipes. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
This month, we are continuing with the somewhat non-traditional tool - Google Images. The amount of times I pull up Google Images during therapy on a weekly basis is...a lot. There are so many ways that it can be helpful for speech, language, and communication development!
For starters, if you are unsure how to access Google Images, check out these instructions below or click here. If you use Google multiple times a day, like we do, feel free to skip to the next section.
- Open a web browser and type in www.google.com in the search bar.
- Pick a word to search, e.g. “pizza,” type it in the search bar, press “enter” or "return" on your keyboard, or "Google search" on the screen.
- Below the word “pizza,” underlined, is the word “All.” Two words to the right is “Images.” Press “Images.” You have found Google Images! If you type in a different word now, you should automatically stay on the Images tab.
Ways I use Google Images to Help Develop Speech, Language, and Communication Skills:
- Articulation: search for pictures with the target sound. For example, if you are working on the /s/ sound in the initial position, you might search for pictures of a snake, sand, or Santa.
- Increase comprehension: a Google image is often more transparent (i.e. easier to understand) than a clipart picture or a drawn picture (if your artistic skills look anything like ours). If you are discussing a fire-breathing dragon, Google Images can show you many examples of a fire-breathing dragon (yay generalization). Google Images are also helpful for finding logos, such as for restaurants, stores, and specific food and beverage items. Having a picture of a logo might be helpful if it comes up in an activity.
- Reward: it can be incentivizing to individuals to get to look up a picture on Google, and print it or save it as a reward for completing a less exciting therapy task, chore, or activity. They might choose to look up a favorite character, a desired toy, or place they want to go. If I am having difficulty engaging an individual in a task, I may look up a Google Image of something they may like to pique their interest, then transition into the therapy task. For example, if they love dogs, I may search for "dog sleeping," find a cute picture of a dog sleeping, then transition into the therapy task of identifying emotions. First, I reward them with a desired image, then they are (usually) more willing to participate in therapy.
- Descriptions: develop expressive language by describing a picture that is found on Google Images. Depending on the individual’s interests, I may look up a holiday scene (e.g. Mardi Gras), a seasonal scene (e.g. snowy day), or maybe a sports scene (e.g. preferred football team’s stadium). Google Images can be more dynamic than traditional picture cards as well. If you are targeting action words (e.g. run, throw, eat), you can find endless images of different people and/or animals in action.
- AAC device: have an individual find different words/images on their AAC device that are related to a Google Image. Individuals may use their AAC devices for requesting rewards, targeting comprehension and descriptions as well.
I counted the number of times I used Google Images in four hours of therapy with a handful of individuals, and for what ways. Below are my counts:
-2 times as rewards
-4 times to increase comprehension
-3 times for descriptions
In 7 of these times - the individual used an AAC device
As you can see, Google Images are a valued therapy tool! The best part about them - free, small (on a phone/tablet/laptop), and do not require any prep to use. A win-win-win if you ask me!
What have you used Google Images for in your life as it relates to speech, language, and communication? Let us know!