When our school IT director asked if I wanted to try out the Amazon Echo Dot with my students, I quickly said “yes!”. I’ll admit I had no idea what I was going to do with it or what the Amazon Echo Dot even really was, but I’m always eager to try new things! Using Amazon Echo in speech therapy quickly proved to be a fun tool that has been motivating for my students.
For those who are unfamiliar, the Echo Dot is a a wireless speaker and voice command device from Amazon. It is a 3- inch wide, circular black microphone/speaker that allows voice commands. It responds to the name “Alexa,” but this can be changed to “Echo” or “Amazon.” Here are some ways I’ve been using Amazon Echo in speech therapy:
Articulation: I’ve had some very effective sessions using the Dot, primarily because students must use precise articulation in order to interact with Alexa. I’ve been amazed at how persistent my students have been and the amount of practice they have engaged in — all to ask Alexa a question! Just the name “Alexa” has provided terrific practice! We’ve also used tongue twisters for Alexa to repeat (use the prompt “Simon Says” for Alexa to repeat anything). For articulation practice, the Echo scores high marks in my therapeutic book!
Language: We’ve had fun formulating questions (“Alexa, who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”) and checking facts with Alexa. The Echo allows you to download free “skills”, which are similar to applications (apps). My students like Daily Word, which gives you a fun and interesting word each day along with a definition. (Note: recommended for upper elementary and high school students.)
Pragmatics: Although the Echo is pretty limited in this area, we’ve used it to decide who goes first by asking “Alexa, flip a coin”. To add some humor to your session, ask Alexa to tell a knock-knock joke! There are also some good “skills” (apps) to help with emotional regulation. When my students are a bit wound up, we ask Alexa to open “Mindfulness” for a quick 1-minute meditation/cool down!
Like anything, the Echo Dot is only limited by your imagination! To get you started, here are 15 fun things your students can say to Alexa:
- Why did the chicken cross the road?
- What came first, the chicken or the egg?
- What’s the weather in __________? (fill in any city in any country)
- How do you spell _____________? (fill in any word)
- What’s the definition of _________? (fill in any word)
- Who is ___________? (fill in any name, real or fictional)
- How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
- Alexa, who you gonna call? (from Ghostbusters)
- Is there a Santa? (the answer is great!)
- How much is that doggie in the window?
- Do you know the muffin man?
- Where’s Waldo?
- Who let the dogs out?
- One fish, two fish.
- Twinkle twinkle little star.
And, one more for when students leave my room: “Alexa, see you later alligator!”