Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Postvocalic /R/'s! ER, AR, and OR

Brrrr!  It's cold outside here in Minnesota and that made Shanda and I think about putting together this last document.  It is filled with crosswords, seek-n-finds, picture articulation cards, and games that are winter themed.  Inside the packet you will find numerous activities and every single activity is designed to help your student become better at producing the postvocalic /R/'s, and to have fun working on them while they do!  
What is a postvocalic /R/ ?????  Well, it is a word that contains a /R/ that follows a vowel.  In this packet we specifically targeted the three postvocalic R's that we think our students have the most trouble with.  Those are the words that contain the combinations of /ER/, /AR/, and /OR/ in them.  A typical word list for the /AR/ words includes words such as: star, far, tarp, start and garlic.  For the /ER/ words: butter, teacher, girl, turkey, dirt and spider.  For the /OR/ words: story, fort, sport, popcorn, and thorn. 

Why are postvocalic R's so hard for our kiddos to produce?????  My theory is that it is because they have to concentrate on saying two different sounds everytime they say the word. The first sound is the vowel, that can bring their tongue in the back of their mouths for some, and in the middle and front of their mouths for others. The second sound is the tricky /R/ sound that brings their tongue in another position right after they got done with that vowel sound!

How do you produce a /R/ sound????  Here are the steps!

First, elevate and flatten your tongue and move it back so that the sides of your tongue are touching the inside and bottom part of your upper teeth on each side of your mouth.  (Whew, that wasn't easily said, and I know it is not easily done)!

Next, slightly curl up the tip of your tongue.  And keep in mind, that your tongue tip should not be touching the top of your mouth.  If it is, than drop it down.

Now, slightly pucker your lips so that the corners of your lips come in just a bit when you produce the sound. 
Lastly, turn on your voice and just remember to be careful to not round your lips too much or the /W/ sound will come out instead of the /R/ sound.
The /R/ sound can be a very tricky sound to master and the postvocalic combination can be especially hard!  This is what we tell our students and parents:

1)  Please be patient! The correct production will take a while for your brain and articulators to master.
2)  Practice over and over again.  Try for more than 300 sounds a day.  This is the only way to get  better at your sound and to make your brain make the connection on how to make the sound.
3)  Please think about how and where you need to place your tongue and lips for each sound. 
4)  Please do your productions slowly and carefully.  Going through them quickly and without thought is like not really practicing them at all. 
5) In addition, we like to emphasize that they need to do their sound practice in front of a mirror  so that they can always be closely monitoring their own productions.  They need to watch their own mouths to make sure that their sound looks like the one that has been modeled for them.

Producing the postvocalic /R/ in words is not easy, but so wasn’t ice skating or skiing the first time your student or child tried to do them!  Your child will have to practice to become good at things like sports and reading, and sometimes they will also have to practice with the same type of vigor in order to produce sounds correctly.
We wish you much luck with that the /R/ in "Brrrrr", and a joyful and (not too cold) winter season! 


Manda & Shanda, SLP’s from Twin Sisters Speech and Language Therapy

Friday, November 23, 2012

FREEBIE!! Irregular Past Tense Verbs.

FREEBIE!! Irregular Past Tense Verbs.

Irregular past tense verbs are tricky! They require the act of memorization because they go against all of the normal rules on how to make a verb go into past tense form. They are difficult for students to learn! This game will be a fun way for your students to work on them so that they can ultimately memorize some of the most commonly ones used. They will match up the snowmen and then they will have the opportunity to do some worksheets to increase their understanding. 

Link to freebie  packet on Teachers Pay Teachers

Link to freebie packet on Teachers Notebook

Have a terrific winter!

Manda and Shanda

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fun With CV and CVCV Words With Pre-K Concepts

You can find the entire packet at our TpT and Teachers Notebook stores with the following links:

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Notebook

When I am introducing words in therapy I begin with CV words i.e bee, tea, boo, me, bow, no, bye. Then, I have the kids assimilate into CVCV words such as:  Bobby, teddy, nanny, baby, mama, baa baa. The consonant to vowel combo is easier to produce in the initial and medial position of words initially.  Then, it is best to move production tries into a two syllable word.  

The approach to easier to say words to more developed words comes from treatment methods for Childhood Apraxia of Speech- A link for more information on Childhood Apraxia of Speech is here:  ASHA definition of Apraxia.

An SLP at the forefront for treatment in this area is Nancy Kaufman. A link to her site is here: Nancy Kaufman SLP.  She has given valuable research and treatment methods for Childhood Apraxia of Speech which has greatly shaped mine, and I know numerous other SLP's, methods of treatment for our early talkers.

Although the word concept from CV to CVCV words is a method for little ones who may have characteristics of apraxia, the method works from natural speech development so I have found I can use it for almost all of my early talkers. I discovered that I was using the same materials over and over for the targeting of these early words. I wanted to make some new materials which would be motivating, promote turn taking, and the development of early language concepts, while at the same time, encouraging the production of cv and cvcv words.  The kiddos really enjoy being able to be interactive while they work hard at their word imitations.  The packet contains CV and CVCV words in activities that you can put in a sheet protector and have the little one try to trace or circle targets. Other pages have interactive scenes where you can cut out the objects and have them glue them on the respective scene while they imitate the CV or CVCV words as well.  I encourage you to laminate the interactive pages and put Velcro dots on the scene and the objects so the pages can be used over and over again if desired. Others involve coloring, sorting, and many include encouragement of early language concepts such as: shapes, letters, numbers, biggest/smallest, above/below, matching, who is different, and who is in the middle.  By the way, the packet is 60 pages!  I think that you will find a lot of useful activities within in!


I really hope you find the packet fun and beneficial to use with your early talkers! Please let me know if you have any questions, and/or comments.

All in Speech and Language fun,

Shanda Gaunt MS CCC/SLP

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Sign Language

I will usually include sign language as part of a “total communication” approach  when teaching my youngest speech therapy students to speak.  The total communication approach I have used over the years includes: early sign language, visual phonics, production of early speech sounds and early words, a picture exchange system as indicated, along with the development of oral-motor skills to produce early sound productions.

The benefits for sign language in early communication is very high. I explain early on to the parents that we are not teaching them sign for his/her only way of communicating, but as one method of several components. It is not to be in replace of verbalizations, but only to help  enhance it.  I also emphasize that the sign does not have to be exact. Each students fine motor abilities differs and they may not be able to make the full movement for the sign. Since they will most likely not be using sign as their only means of communication in the future, any movement that is close to the sign they are wanting to make is just fine. The student will keep developing the sign as their abilities increase. As long as the parent and other immediate communication partners are aware of what they are trying to communicate we congratulate them for their effort for attempting! We can continue to repeat and model. The positive reinforcement they receive for knowing that their attempts are pleasing to the most important people in their worlds to them is very motivating for their communication growth. 

Over the years, I have found that signing can have immediate positive effects in communication exchanges with a student.  Parents have expressed to me often that they are excited and happy to see their child attempt to communicate and to not appear frustrated all of the time. Many toddlers are able to understand very well long before they can verbally express themselves. When they know what they want to say, but do not have the ability to express it ,they can become frustrated, with the result  being called,  "The Terrible Two's":) Sign language can be introduced as early as 6-8 months and with early exposure, consistent repetition, and encouragement , child may begin using it depending on their abilities around 10-12 months. Many of the early speech students I have begin around the age of two and at that age many of them have the cognitive, and fine motor abilities to begin imitating right away.

Signing seeds other positive results such as teaching the skill s of eye contact, joint attention,  and turn taking .  Also, children learn that communication takes two people and a series of exchanges to be successful. Through the years I have begun to teach signs in an order that seemed to come naturally to the early  speech sounds, and early word combinations that I was introducing; i.e. , I begin with "more" since the "M" is an early speech sound and than move onto "on/off“,  since they are easier words to produce.  The sign "more" incorporates well in therapy tasks i.e. ,"Do you want  more toys?” Parents can use "more" during feeding and play i.e., "Do you want more crackers?”. "On and Off" is used when putting an object "on" and "off" during play.

Over the years, I have compiled my own visuals from different resources i.e., Signing Time, Baby Sign Language and American Sign Language. My signs are a combination of all of the suggested ways of signing.  This packet is a nice summary of the signs that I use most and the order that I like to introduce them. In addition, I would like share the links  to each of the signing sites who should be given credit for my summarized approach. 

Signing Time
Baby Sign Language
Lifeprint American Sign Language

But, I wanted to make my own packet so my signs and the order that I usually introduce them could be all in one location. This packet can be found at our Teachers Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers shops using the following links: TpT  Teachers Notebook

Please leave a comment if you have any questions, comments or if you would like to share your ideas on speech and language development and therapy methods as well.

Thank you!

Shanda Gaunt M.S. CCC/SLP


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