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How we co-designed Colourful semantics activities in Voca Quest

What is Colourful Semantics?

Colourful Semantics is an approach created by Alison Bryan. It is aimed at helping children to develop their grammar but it is rooted in the meaning of words (semantics).

How does it work?

Colourful Semantics reassembles sentences by cutting them up into their thematic roles and then colour codes them. The approach has 4 key colour-coded stages. There are further stages for adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions and negatives.

  1. WHO – Orange

  2. WHAT DOING – Yellow

  3. WHAT – Green

  4. WHERE – Blue

The design process in Voca Quest

Our team attended a training session hosted by Alison Bryan to understand how SLTs are using this therapy approach with their clients. We then designed and prototyped 6 Colourful Semantics activities, collecting some early feedback before developing them. The Colourful semantics activities Voca Quest offers aim to adapt to different clients’ levels:

Sort / Classify

Sort / Classify activity is the easiest Colourful semantics activity that Voca Quest offers. It aims to help the client recognise the semantics of words. There is a set of cards on the screen and the task consists in dragging them to the corresponding bucket.


After identifying the words’ semantics, the Sequencing activity aims at ordering them to build a sentence. A list of words are shown and the client should drag these to the answer row in the correct order.


Colourful semantics Classic helps clients to identify the semantic elements in a picture. A photo is shown and a question is played asking the client to identify the who, what, doing and where. There are 4 multiple answers. The client should drag the answer they think is correct into the answer row.

Fill in the blanks

This task requires the client to be able to write. A photo is shown and a sentence with a missing word is shown. The client is tasked with typing the missing word. You can help the client type if required.

Find the words

This task requires the client to be able to read. Text and coloured highlighters are shown on the screen. The client must select a highlighter and click on a part of the text to highlight it in the colour of its semantic element. There is also the option to add comprehension questions to ensure the client understands the text.

Silly sentence builder

This is the most flexible Colourful semantics activity. Using a starting verb, clients must enrich the sentence by adding new words to it. The words can be rearranged at any time. The objective is to create the longest and silliest sentence!


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