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Speaking of Apps

MakeChange Makes for a Great App

Published July 2, 2012 9:31 AM by Megan Sutton
There used to be a stash of coins in my desk drawer for use in therapy, but now I've spent it on an app called MakeChange. Priced at a reasonable $1.99, it offers a realistic way to practice counting money for people of all ages.  There are several money counting apps available, but I believe MakeChange offers the most therapeutic value.

It's the customizability that makes this app a standout. You can select the difficulty, ranging from "up to 10 cents" to "up to 5 dollars" with five steps in between. The currency is adjustable, so clients in the US, Canada, or the eurozone can use it.  The most helpful setting is the tally: toggle on to show how much money has been counted as you go for teaching, toggle off for testing. You can even select the background color or graphic, making the screen as distraction-free as needed - a plus for those with visual attention or perceptual problems.




To "play", the user slides the photo-realistic coins and bills from the near-limitless piles across a line until the target amount has been reached. My clients enjoy flinging the coins to watch them flip against the end of the screen and hear the realistic coin sound. When the user is satisfied that they have the right amount, they press the "Count Change" button to see if they're correct. If correct, the app gives a rewarding "cha-ching" sound, showing a more efficient solution when possible. If incorrect, the app tells them how much they counted vs. how much was needed and encourages them to keep trying. Not many apps allow for re-trying a problem that has been answered incorrectly, but in therapy we encourage working towards success.



In therapy, this app can be used for counting, addition, attention, money management, and naming goals. It's simple enough to be used independently by clients, but a therapist or family member can add value by encouraging the client to name the coins, count aloud, add the numbers on paper, or attend to the tally. There is nothing childish about this app; it's perfect for clients with stroke, brain injury, and developmental disabilities who need to practice this essential life skill.

Downsides? The price is very reasonable, but it's a competitive marketplace, and there are several free and $0.99 money counting apps available. The US dollar bills are smaller than the quarters and make the same metallic sound when flipped, which detracts from the reality of the experience. While there are three currency options, this leaves out users in the UK, Australia, and other parts of the world. The name is MakeChange, but really, the app focuses on counting money; it would be incredible to also be able to practice making change. The app is for iPad only, but there's no obvious reason why this app couldn't be universal.

Do you include money counting as part of your therapy? Which apps have you found most useful?


Thanks for the comment Jessica!  A lot of skills, like counting money, are really best learned by, well, counting money.  There's not much literature to support it, but we all know it works.  I suppose the priciple of specificity in neuroplasticity research supports it - do the thing you want to get better at, over and over again.  If it's a speech-specific app, I'll try to tie it back to the literature.  My posts will always be for adult users (though they often carry-over to the younger clients), whether the app was designed for adults or not, so no developmental norms from me, but perhaps Jeremy can add some to his posts on Wednesdays.  Thanks for reading!

Megan Sutton July 2, 2012 10:17 PM

It's great to have an on-going dialogue with comprehensive reviews on apps.  Would love to see references back to research literature on how the app relates back to known developmental normative data, or on what populations the app was developed with/for.


Jessica, SLP, AAC - SLP, University, Clinic July 2, 2012 2:36 PM
University Park PA

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About this Blog

    Speaking of Apps
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Rehabilitation
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