Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison

March 26, 2015 by - Leave your thoughts

Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison
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Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison

Many of us have worked with learners who have a special interest in trains, but even kids who don’t give trains more than a passing glance still generally love the Toca Train app by Toca Boca. In this post, we welcome back SLPs Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison of Communicare, LLC who share how they use Toca Train in their clinical work with young AAC learners. In addition to their prAACtical suggestions, they generously share a train-themed communication board and their data sheet for the phrases that can be targeted in this activity.Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison

iPad applications are fun and engaging, and can be a great addition to any clinician’s intervention toolkit. We use iPad applications to engage our learners in play-based activities that address a range of speech, language, and communication goals. One of our learners’ favorite applications is Toca Train; a bright and colorful application that involves a train moving around a track at different speeds, controlled by the user, and picking up different cargo and passengers.

Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison

When interacting with this application, we are able to practice using core word phrases, directing another’s behavior, asking questions, using prepositions and more. Here are some specific examples:

  1. Core Word Phrases: The very nature of having the train move at different speeds and through different places allows us to work on phrases such as “make it go,” “make it stop,” “I want more,” as well as cord-word phrase starters such as “I see ______” and “it is _____.”
  1. Adjective Practice: We are able to adjust the speed at which the train can go and are therefore able to practice adjectives such as “fast” and “slow.” We can also work on comparative and superlative forms of short adjectives by practicing words such as “faster” and “slower” as well as “fastest” and “slowest.” As the train moves through a tunnel we are also able to contrast “dark” versus “light.”
  1. Pronouns: At stations along the track, different people get on and off the train. This provides us with an opportunity to contrast “he” versus “she,” and also combine these pronouns with other core words (i.e., “she go on” or “he get off”).
  1. Negation: There are also loading stations along the track where the user can choose what items he or she wants to put on the train. We can practice phrases such as “I don’t want that,” or “not that” to make choices about the different options.

In order to help us track what we are modeling, as well as what the learner is generating, we use customized data sheets. We mark whether or not we modeled a target phrase, as well as whether or not the learner generated the same or similar phrase with or without our support (marked as independent/unprompted or prompted). Please see our example and feel free to download a template data sheet.

Magic Moments with Toca Train by Nerissa Hall and Hillary Jellison

These are just a few of the ways we address language goals while playing with Toca Train. There are many others that you can focus on using this application. Enjoy!


Nerissa Hall, PhD. CCC-SLP, ATP and Hillary Jellison, MS. CCC-SLP, ATP, members of Commūnicāre, LLC are speech-language pathologists specializing in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Assistive Technology (AT), telepractice, and tele-AAC. They focus on the systematic application of technology and innovative, evidence-based teaching methodologies and techniques to enhance an individual’s independence and progress towards specific goals, as well as support the skill advancement of multiple team members.

Contact Information: Nerissa Hall; Hillary Jellison

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This post was written by Carole Zangari

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