Use this tool to help kids with visual memory and contextual understanding of words.

Scene Speak

Social stories and visual displays connect words and concepts for kids

Learning rating

Community rating

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Subjects & Skills

Communication & Collaboration, Critical Thinking, English Language Arts, English-Language Learning

Great for

Creating Media, Special Needs

Price: Paid
Platforms: iPad

Pros: You can add your own images and voice recordings or use the pre-loaded pages and images.

Cons: You'll need to read the 32-page tutorial to understand how to make pages and books.

Bottom Line: This useful tool can help kids communicate and learn words in context.

Use this app to customize sequences of images, books, photo albums, flash cards, and more to aid students in developing communication skills, building vocabulary, and understanding social context. The "hotspot" feature can also help kids learn about part-whole relationships. For example, if a kid taps on a hotspot of him- or herself in a class photo and hears the phrase "I am a classmate," (especially if their voice is the recorded voice) that can help make the connection that they are a part of the class. This app can also be used to record students reading stories to practice reading aloud and general speaking skills, and then share them with others who are using the same app. There are so many potential uses for this app that once you master the basics, you can be as creative as you want to be in using it to meet students' individual needs.

Scene Speak is like a create-and-store digital library for photo books, flash cards, diagrams, and more. While used effectively for special needs students, it can also be a helpful tool for all students to connect visuals and audio with vocabulary words. Teachers and parents can make photo books of kids' favorite stories, family photos, vocabulary words, social stories, and more. There's a 32-page tutorial on the app, which most first-time users will need to read. Then use pre-loaded images, upload images from your device's camera or the Internet, add your own voice, a student's voice, or use text-to-voice audio to create pages. Mark "hotspots" on the pages so kids can tap to hear and see the word associated with the object in that section of the page. Scene Speak's Visual Screen Display (VSD) Library comes with pre-made pages of a park, child's bedroom, doctor's office, and more. Tap on one, and the page opens to reveal items inside that room or details of a diagram. Tap on My Books and "edit mode" to create a book or VSD. You can also edit existing VSD pages and add audio.

While not intuitive on the creating (Edit Mode) side, the Play Mode in Scene Speak is very easy to use. It can be a useful tool for creating flash cards, pages, and books to help kids learn vocabulary, context, and self-expression. Kids can also practice naming, listening, and speaking, especially if they are prompted to repeat the words they hear or to record some of the pages themselves. It would be nice to see more on-screen prompts or a video tutorial, rather than wading through such a long written help section. Still, with a bit of patience, Scene Speak can become a go-to tool to create books and pages to help your students practice communicating or learn vocabulary, social stories, and more.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Kids can record their own voices or hear a parent or teacher's voice recording rather than using prerecorded text-to-voice. Adding personalized images to the pre-loaded scenes can also increase engagement.


By viewing and listening to information about the scenes and social stories, kids learn vocabulary in context. The "hot spot" feature is particularly helpful in highlighting details of a page for kids to tap and hear specific words.


Reading the 32-page tutorial is essential to fully understand how to use Scene Speak most effectively. It would be nice to see more on-screen prompts or a video tutorial, rather than wading through such a long written help section.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

Lots of possibilities, but cumbersome to use as a creation tool.

I think this could be a powerful tool for teaching ELLs, but I have concerns about the ease of use for my elementary students. The play mode is simple to use, but the real rigor of the tool lies in its creation (edit) mode. I had to read the lengthy user manual to understand how to use the app. This app needs more intuitive navigation tools to make it more easily usable by younger children.

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