Wednesday, March 11, 2020

7 ways your child can have more fun practicing speech

This guest post is by Becca Sylvia and Kristi Stearns, two speech pathologists based in Denver and New York City who have recently started the blog Communication Community. Their goal: to demonstrate that communication is for everyone, regardless of age, abilities, or speech or language skills.

How Your Child Can Have More Fun Practicing Speech

It’s true what they say—time does fly when you are having fun. That’s definitely true of speech therapy, as you may have noticed if your child starts fidgeting or getting antsy when working on repetitive articulation drills. Or maybe a session has sped by when they’ve gotten into a game or activity. As speech therapists, our favorite moments are when a session is over and a student asks, “So are we going to do speech today?”

When you and your child are practicing the sounds your speech therapist is working on with them, it’s easy to make it more fun. These are some of our favorite ways.

1. The Speech Restaurant

In this game, your child can “order” speech sounds while playing restaurant or store.  Offer “menu options” that are target speech sounds or words. For example, you can make a menu with the target sound(s). You could also just ask, “Would you like a /sh/ or /s/ today?” You can also change it up and have your be the server or cashier and take your order as you model proper sound production.

2. Scavenger Hunt 

Do a scavenger hunt looking for the target sound(s). Once the target sound is found, encourage the child to say it. This can be pre-planned—you hide cards or objects with the target sound(s) around a room. Or it can more spontaneous, where you search for objects or words with the target sound(s).

3. Let’s Kick It

Pick a favorite activity or sport and have your child work on sounds while playing:
• Playing catch: Take turns tossing the ball back and forth, saying each target sound for each toss
• Soccer: Say the target sound, then kick the ball into net or dribble to a certain spot, stop, say the target sound, then continue dribbling.
• Basketball: Your child can shoot a hoop for each target sound said.

4. Sing-a-long

Make up a song or adapt a song with the target sound—for example, “Old MacDonald had a /g/, gee I gee I oh!” You can also sing “BINGO,” but with target sounds instead of the letters B, I, N, G, O.

5. Hands On

Incorporate something tangible into therapy exercises to grab a child’s attention. You can do coloring pages, providing an assortment of target sound(s) written or drawn on a piece of paper. When they color over that sound, they have to say it. Or you can create a simple puzzle you cut up out of cardboard, and each piece has a target sound written on it. When it’s placed together, they say the corresponding sound. So they say all of the target sounds assembled in the puzzle? When putting a puzzle piece together, do they say the target sound then, too?  Yes and yes

6. Reward Time

Give your child an opportunity to earn rewards for their efforts. Some children may need a reward after three exercises completed, but may be able to work up to 5 or 10 or more exercises completed. A reward can be tangible (like a sticker or small action figure toy) or a reward of time (like a five-minute break to play with the dollhouse).

7. Bedtime Reading

There are many fun books that are great for eliciting different target sounds. Some of our favorites for certain letters:

  /b/ - Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
/ch/ - Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
/d/ - No, David! By David Shannon
/f/ - The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
/g/ - Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
/h/ - Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess
/j/ - Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
/k/ - Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
/l/ - Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
/m/  Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
/p/ - If You Give a Pig a Pancake - Laura Joffee Numeroff
/r/ - Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray
/s/ - Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
/sh/ - Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
/t/ - Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Suess
/w/ - Mrs. Wishy Washy series by Joy Cowley and Elizabeth Fuller

We hope this list sparks some fresh ideas! Remember, shoot for progress, not perfection. And keep up with the positive reinforcement—verbal praise, high fives, fist bumps, or whatever your child responds to.

Happy therapy!


Becca and Kristi
Communication Community

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Thanks for sharing!

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