Over time there have been 2 different editions of Special Sentences:
To use the web-based edition, you will first need to install it as detailed in Chapter 2.
This user guide is for Special Sentences Plus, not the previous edition. For the sake of brevity, in some places we refer to Special Sentences Plus as just Special Sentences.
Special Sentences supports emerging readers and writers by encouraging sentence building, improving reading, grammar, and comprehension, as well as improving sight-word vocabulary. Learning to read and understand sentence structures allows children to develop socially, culturally and emotionally. Special Sentences can be used alongside Special Words, to support the recognition of sight words through whole word matching activities, as well as Special Stories, to develop independent reading skills.
The app allows you to create sentence building activities tailored to support children’s individual learning needs. A sentence belongs to a topic, and can be personalised with your own photographs and text. Special Sentences allows children to practice their writing, reading and comprehension skills without becoming intimidated by a full page of text. After creating your topics, you will be able to use them in the sentence building activity of Special Sentences. Children are presented with all the words and punctuation need to complete a sentence, and need to drag them into the correct order before moving onto the next sentence, supporting them to become independent writers.
You can create topics as you wish, and update them again later. Each topic can have any number of sentences, and each sentence can have an image or photo, a written sentence, and corresponding spoken sentence. Topics belong to collections: the app comes with one collection of example topics built in. You can add your own topics and sentences to this collection, but you may find it more appropriate to create additional collections for your own topics, especially if working with more than one child. It's easy to edit, reorder or delete topics, and to move them between collections. This is explained in Chapter 7.
You can transfer individual topics or whole collections between devices that have Special Sentences. There is a one-to-one correspondence between a topic in Special Sentences and a story in our Special Stories app, so you can save time by sharing your topics/sentences between the two apps. Sharing is covered in detail in Chapter 9.
Special Sentences has a built in word list, shared by all collections, which is essentially a bank containing every word from all the sentences in all the topics. When a sentence is created, any of its words that are not already in the word list are automatically added for you. You can manage the word list and, if you wish, pre-add words you are going to use in sentences. Each word can have audio and an identifying image associated with it. If you plan to use words you already have in our Special Words app, you can make use of the fact that you can export any word list from Special Words and import it into Special Sentences. The effect is to merge these words into the single word list in Special Sentences. The initial built in word list contains all the words in the example topics, plus the same core 96 words as in Special Words, and a few others, as well as common punctuation characters.
Note: Currently there is not a facility to export the word list in Special Sentences to another instance of Special Sentences or to Special Words. If you intend to use individual words you create on multiple devices, we strongly recommend you create and manage them in Special Words.
The child can be supported in the activity by individual spoken words and whole spoken sentences. You can record real human speech using the app, make use of audio in imported topics and word lists, or rely on simulated voices provided by your device's text-to-speech facilities. You can configure the use of speech and voices in the app's Settings, see Chapter 8.
The user interface and example topics are currently available in English only, however you can create content in any language your child or student uses. If you think this app would be beneficial in another language, get in touch by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.