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Special Sentences User Guide - Using Collections

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Special Sentences makes it easy to group your topics together into separate collections, each with an informative title. Situations where you might want to make use of this include:

  • using a different set of sentences at home and at school
  • working with more than one child on the same device
  • when you import topics created by someone else
  • keeping older versions of updated topics

The main view in Special Sentences only ever displays the topics in one collection: we refer to this as the currently selected collection. If you have never added any collections or imported any topics, all your topics will be in a single collection with title Collection 1.

To access the list of collections, and to switch between them, tap the Options/Menu button at the top left in the main view, and select Actions to reveal the Actions view. Then tap the Manage Collections button there. You will initially see something like shown below.

Special Sentences - collections iOS     Special Sentences - collections Android

If you already have more than one collection, they will all be shown here. The currently selected collection is shown with a checked (ticked) checkbox besde its title. To select a different one, simply tap its name.

If you were to then tap the Actions or < button at top left to return to the Actions view and then the Topics button to go back to the main view, you'd then see the list of topics in whichever collection you had selected. You can use this to switch between collections at any time.

If you stay with the list of collections, you can change the title of any collection, and add any notes or jottings about it, by tapping its  or button, to reveal its details view.

Below we have changed the title of Collection 2 to Sophie's Topics and added some notes.

Special Sentences - edit collection iOS     Special Sentences - edit collection Android

Tapping the Save button returns you to the list of collections.

Associated with each collection is a language, and in some cases a choice of voices. Initially this will be set to Default, as shown in the example here. To select a different language, tap its name - it will then be highlighted in blue and with a check (tick) mark.

The language setting affects the selection of built in words and recorded audio included with the app. It also causes the app to look for the most appropriate choice of simulated (text to speech) voice when needed. For a fuller explanation, read about the Voice setting in Chaprter 7.

In most cases, you can leave the language set to Default, which will rely on the device's current language and voice settings.

You can create another collection by tapping the + button in the action bar at the top. You're then presented with several options:

  • Default

    This creates a new collection just containing the original default built in topics.

  • Empty

    This creates a collection that initially has no topics in it.

  • Copy “...”

  • For each of your existing collections, there is an option, e.g. Copy “Sophie's Topics”, to create a new collection that contains a complete copy of all the topics in the existing collection. The new copies are independent of the originals, so that editing one doesn't change the other. This can be useful e.g. if you are working with more than one child, and want to have a similar set of topics for each.

Whenever you create a collection, it is selected automatically.

Below is an example where we have created 4 collections, and the currently selected one is entitled Whole Class Topics. You can rearrange the order of the collections, or delete any of them, by tapping the Edit padlock button. But note that once you've deleted a collection, you can't un-delete it.

Special Sentences - multiple collections iOS     Special Sentences - edit collection Android

We recommend you make safe copies of important topics and collections by exporting them to another device or as email attachments, as discussed in Chapter 8. You can export topics one at a time, or export an entire collection.

The import facilities, also discussed in Chapter 8, allow you to add individual topics or whole collections previously exported from this or another device. When importing a single topic, you are presented with choices allowing you to import it into any existing collection or to create a new collection, and when adding to an existing collection you can replace any existing topic or add as a new one. When importing a whole collection, you can choose between adding as a new one, or replacing everything in an existing collection. Be careful not to select replacing existing topics or collections if that's not what you want to do. After importing a topic or collection, the relevant collection becomes the currently selected one.

To organise your collections, you will probably want to copy or move entire topics, or individual sentences, between collections.

On iOS: To copy or move a whole topic, make sure you have selected the relevant collection, tap the topic's  or button in the main view, and then the topic's Edit button and then its Copy button.

On Andorid: To copy or move a whole topic, make sure you have selected the relevant collection, tap the topic's >button in the main view, and then the topic's Copy button.

You can then choose to copy it to an existing collection or to create a new collection for the copy, and whether to keep the original topic (i.e. copy it) or delete the original (i.e. move it).

To copy a single sentence, proceed as if you were going to edit the sentence (as described in Chapter 5), and use the sentence's own Copy button. You can then choose to copy the sentence as a new last sentence of an existing topic in any of your collections, or to add as the first sentence of a new topic in any existing collection. This won't offer to delete the original sentence, but you can easily do that yourself after copying if you want to.

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