This how-to guide is for clinicians and educators.

If you are a parent, ask your clinician or educator how you can support your child’s communication or learning goals at home If you have concerns, seek advice from a professional.

playTOK always recommends real world interaction, real world experience, and real world play over any screen activities. The Boom Cards developed by playTOK were created to address needs:

  • Need for tools that meet can be easily and quickly disinfected (e.g., many toys in clinics and schools have now been limited due to infection and prevention)
  • Need for use on multiple platforms (e.g., through telepractice, in-centre on a tablet, laptop, whiteboard or smartTV).
  • Need for tools that can be shared with families
  • Need for low- or no-prep tools to decrease clinician time
  • Need for tools that work in 1:1 or group settings

This article will address questions such as:

  1. About playTOK
  2. Why should I use Boom Cards or playTOK Boom Cards?
  3. How can Boom Cards by playTOK be used?
  4. Prepping for Telepractice Use
  5. Prepping for In-Person Use
  6. Why are playTOK sets open-ended?
  7. Parent Coaching
  8. Inspiration Gallery


1-About playTOK & Boom Learning

playTOK began in 2020 to address ongoing need for digital speech, language and learning tools. playTOK tools are suitable for preschoolers and early elementary. Some decks are applicable for older elementary grades.

Janice, the creator of playTOK, is both a speech-language pathologist and professional graphic designer (print and digital). She works with pediatric and early school age populations and is passionate about creating play-focused digital and paper tools for speech, language and learning!

Janice implements ideas from her beloved real life toys, and aims to keep the fun virtually. She understands that motivation is an important factor in a child’s participation and success. In addition to connection through play, she promotes continued “parent coaching” in order to encourage “language-rich naturalistic interactions”. When children and parents are not on screen, she recommends they engage in real world experiences and with real world objects.

Boom LearningTM is a website with free and premium accounts that helps educators and users connect and create various digital education tools. Historically, Boom Cards are “task cards” where individual practice and completion is required. However, as Boom adds more functions to its site, they are evolving and, with creative solutions, able to support live therapy sessions!

When Janice learned about Boom LearningTM and Boom Cards, the two points really stuck out — the fact that it was internet-based (e.g., easily used across different devices!), and the fact that education and therapy materials could be easily assigned to other parents students (e.g., no more $$$ for costly apps). As she looked at the various games, it was also very apparent that Boom CardsTM were very cost-friendty.

2-An Account On Boom Learning

There are two things you need to use Boom Cards, the internet and a Boom Learning account. Although Boom has different membership plans, you really only need the “starter” to be able to access the cards. For the purposes of playTOK (e.g., using play-focused materials in therapy and with live groups), the free starter account is enough to allow you to use the materials live. If you become interested in making your own decks, I would recommend you look into upgraded accounts! To learn more about Boom Learning membership levels, click here >>> Boom Learning.


2-Why should I use playTOK Boards from Boom LearningTM?

We all need some go-to resources that quick and easy! Think of Boom CardsTM by playTOK as digital or “telepractice toys”. The use of theme-based therapy is helpful when much of our time is being dedicated to phone and email communication / consent. The ability to again have ‘super-cool-toys’ at my fingertips has been helpful in keeping children happy! That’s the real key — finding out and knowing what a child’s interests are so that you can incorporate them into your sessions!


3-Our Designs

Janice, the speech-language pathologist and graphic designer behind playTOK Boom Cards likes to take ideas from real life toys, and keep the fun virtually. She feels that it is important to include play-focused activities that are meant to encourage interaction and conversation. As always, she recommends real world play over any screen time, and she does not recommend that playTOK tools be used independently. The designs are With digital tools, it is important to look a like to take ideas from real life toys, but keep the fun virtually! Use your imagination and enthusiasm to bring the scenes life!


4-How can playTOK boards be used in speech-language therapy?

Any way you want! They are meant to be used as motivators and reinforcers and are planned carefully for interaction. They do not need to be used in any order, and activities in each set can be changed quickly through a consistent navigational menu (e.g., yay motor plan!).

Assessment – Use playTOK boards for language sampling, or to assess receptive language (e.g., following directions). You can do this either in-centre beside each other, or through telepractice screen sharing (e.g. give mouse control to the student).

Therapy In Small Groups – Use playTOK boards via telepractice or in-person during modeling. Share a screen (e.g. such as Zoom or other platforms) or share the boards in person. For group articulation sessions, you might take turns using a tablet (e.g., each child could have their own stylus or popsicle stick).

Therapy In Large Groups – Use playTOK boards in a classroom on a whiteboard or smartTV. With theme-based boards such as “Let’s Go Apple Picking! + Fruit Orchard”, you will have amazing no-prep tools to help guide conversation in your class!

Home Practice – I prefer to give parents a real-world routine to practice, or a book of key words (e.g., for motor speech). In many cases, there may be an appropriate Boom Set (e.g. repetitive book “Mama? Baby!”). These boards can be assigned to families in Boom LearningTM and you can even check how often they are being accessed!


5-Prepping for telepractice & playTOK Boom Cards

  • For telepractice, you will need a computer (desktop or laptop is preferred) with a mouse. A tablet with a mouse attachment may also work.
  • For telepractice (preschool age) settings, it is preferred if the student and parent are both present. The parent can also participate, get ideas for home practice, assist and troubleshoot. Although a mouse is not 100% necessary for families, it may help them too.
  • For telepractice (school-age) settings, you may need support from a parent or other adult to ensure the child is set up. Older children are able to navigate and participate, and only require a little bit of support (e.g., logging on , wifi passwords).
  • Zoom or Google Meet – Before any sessions with Boom, it is helpful if you can learn Zoom and Google Meet. Check Youtube for videos on how to use various telepractice platforms and/or how to use them to screen share!
  • In the actual session, it is best to pull up your playTOK boards in a browser (before the child arrives).


6-Prepping for in-person practice & playTOK Boom Cards

  • A tablet (BONUS! This is easy to disinfect, and you can access all your boards at any time
  • (Optional: playTOK cards also work really well on white boards or smartTVs, if you have access).
  • A stylus – Both you and the student can use a stylus to access the screen instead of your fingers. If the If the student is too young, it may be easier to have their parent assist them (e.g. during telepractice) or to sanitize their hands before use in-person and have the clinician use a stylus

7-What can I can target with my playTOK Boards?

Expressive Language – Model language, encourage kids to use language  when describing boards, and help guide their imagination into new themes and topis (e.g., also vocabulary devlopment!). Use  language-rich sticker scenes (e.g., vocab), use repetitive books or manipulatives with a routine to help teach language (e.g., sentence structures).

Receptive Language – Use these as you would in place of your real objects and toys. Alternatively, you can give mouse control to your kids and have them follow your spoken directions.

Speech – Use existing materials you have for articulation (e.g. Flashcards, Printable worksheets from SuperDuper, Lesson Pix or Boardmaker pages), and pair them with toys and activities just like you did in-centre! I like to keep a copy of each child’s targets in their own file folder. When it is time for their session, I put their page in a a page protector and pull it out. This allows groups to address children that may have different goals! Another idea for speech? Think of general carrier phrases or fun names you can rename characters to help them practice their target sounds!

Token economy – To help children get through lengthy tests or stay engaged in therapy, use a first/then approach to task completion. Our boards are made for quick turns and as motivators. You might say “First, we’ll do 5 pages, then have a doughtnut break” (e.g. and then go to a Build-A-Donut scene). After implementing some playTOK boom card breaks, I am able to keep children for lengthy assessment sessions without any crying at all! In fact, the children have become so used to the routine, they will come back and ask me “I want the Donut game again” (playTOK Build-A-Donut).

Turn-taking – You can practice turn-taking during telepractice or in-person. In larger groups, you can use turn-taking when going up to a whiteboard or Smart TV. Don’t forget to have each child hold their own stylus/popsicle stick! You can try classic games with fixed turns, or you can call children for their turns through themed boards. Note that  a lot of emergent literacy and numeracy activities are incorporated which include many repeptitios (e.g., enough turns for everyone!).

Fluency – Use scenes just as you would any games or books to help practice smooth or easy speaking.

Social thinking – Depending on the game, you can use the boards to help a student take different perspectives (e.g. what is the boy/girl thinking of eating in the BBQ & Picnic scene.)

AAC & Language – Pair these boards with a communication board, such as an “I want ___” sentence strip, PECs, or Core Board to encourage communication.

Motivation – With your imagination and enthusiasm, bring the boards to life! By using your own voice and sound effects, you can follow a child’s interests and follow their pace. Different scenes in each playTOK set also helps a child to stay focused (e.g. topic maintenance)!


8-Parent Coaching Is Key! (or Collaboration with Teachers)

If you are an early intervention speech-language pathologist, always remember to provide parent coaching at the beginning and end of sessions. Although we may use various tools and toys during our telepractice or in-centre sessions, parents may not easily recognize the speech and language techniques we are embedding during play-based learning.

If you are a speech-language pathologist working with educators, it might be an excellent idea to discuss themes that they are already using and find language-rich activities that will complement what they are doing. Right now, there are many amazing digital resources in addition to Boom — digital books like GetEpic or RazKids, Youtube videos, various free and paid sites with educational games, and even apps.

Always help your parent understand the specific strategies they should implement, specific at-home activities they can do, and come up with an at-home plan to support their child’s current speech or language goals.

For Teachers, help them understand the child’s goals, and come up with creative ways of supporting the child’s language development within a class setting.

Remember, playTOK always encourages real world interaction, real world experience, and real world play over screen time. We recognize that digital media can be used safely, and emphasize that they can support speech, language  and learning when they are used in an “interactive” and “conversational” manner.

In-centre and telepractice limitations have truly changed how therapy looks, but hopefully some day I will be able to pull out my much-loved toys once again!

If you are interested in Boom Cards created by playTOK, check out this link here (or click the picture) >>> LINK To Google Drive

If you’d like access to our detailed list with clickable links (books, boom, web, print), sign up to our  mailing list! >>> CLICK! > I want theme-based links!

ALL NEW! playTOK Google Catalog