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Classroom (and home) Speech Strategies

As you may know, we are an in-home only speech therapy clinic in San Francisco and parts of the East Bay. However, a little known fact about us is that we are also at schools around San Francisco! We recently shared these strategies with teachers at our partnering schools and thought we should share. Read on to learn about strategies you can use to target speech sound production (i.e. articulation) at home or in school.



school speech strategies


Sounds students might be working on by grade:


PreK and Kindergarten:

L: Our “singing sound” (usually met between ages 4-5)

  • The tip of the tongue lightly touches the “bumps” on the roof of the mouth, right behind the top front teeth

  • Some of our friends may use a “y” (e.g. “yeg” for leg)


SH: The “quiet sound”(usually met between ages 4-5)

  • Lips are pushed out in front (like a fish) with a steady airflow

  • Some students might use a “s” for “sh”. (e.g. “fiss” for fish)

CH: The “sneezy sound”(usually met between ages 4-5)

  • Lips are pushed out in front (like a fish), like the SH, except now the tongue is tapping to cut off the airflow

  • Some students might use a “t” and/or “s” for a “ch” (e.g. “mats” for match)

Kindergarten, First, and Second Grade:

S: Our “snake sound”(usually met between ages 4-5)

  • The tongue should be behind the front teeth on the “bumps” or down behind the bottom front teeth

  • A lot of our friends are working on keeping their tongue here instead of it being out in front of their teeth (frontal lisp)

  • Some students may be working on creating an airflow tunnel with their tongue, instead of it laying flat and the air escaping through the sides (lateral lisp)


Z: Our “buzzing sound”(usually met between ages 4-5)

  • Same guidelines to “S”, except now the voice is on

  • A lot of our friends are working on keeping their tongue here instead of it being out in front of their teeth (frontal lisp)

  • Some students may be working on creating an airflow tunnel with their tongue, instead of it laying flat and the air escaping through the sides (lateral lisp)


TH: Voiced (e.g. “the”) or voiceless (e.g. “thin”) (usually met between ages 5-6)

  • The tongue comes out slightly between the top and bottom front teeth

  • Some students may substitute a “f” for voiceless “th” (E.g. “fing” for thing) and a “v” or “d” for a voiced “th” (e.g. “brudder” for brother)


R: Includes R-blends, R at beginning of words and vocalic r (ar, air, er, ear, or, ire) (usually met between ages 5-6)

  • The tongue is folding back like a taco or bunching wide, also in the back of the mouth

  • If the tongue is not folding, the R sound will sound more like an “uh” (e.g. “watuh” for water)

  • Some students may substitute the R with W (e.g. “wed” for red)


A map for each sound target:

Speech sound production is usually targeted in levels that increase in difficulty. Your SLP will adjust their cuing based on the child’s needs. Once we reach 80-90% at a level, we move on to the next level. After a child is consistently and independently using their new sound 90% of the time in conversation, they graduate from speech!


The levels of speech production:

  1. Sound by itself

  2. Syllables

  3. Words

  4. Phrases

  5. Sentences

  6. Reading aloud (if reading level)

  7. In conversation

Graduate speech!


Speech Strategies: Language to Use

A. Anytime in class or at home, slow down and exaggerate sounds they’re working on in your own speech as much as time allows.


B. Refer to their new productions as “new sound” instead of “good” or “correct” sound.


C. Congratulate them when you hear the new sounds. Some examples: “Great new sound!” “I heard the new sound again!” and “I love hearing your new sound!”.


You can ask:

  1. “What sound do you practice in speech?”

  2. “How do you make it?” (e.g. “What is your tongue/mouth doing when you make the new sound?”)

  3. “What level are you on?” (from sound levels above)


Practice Ideas:

A. Partner Reading: They can practice “catching” words that have their new sounds in them. They can stop, say the word three times and continue on, or they can exaggerate the sound and their listening partner can raise their hand when they hear the new sound.


B. Would you rather questions: Create would you rather questions including words with their sound. They can survey a friend and/or answer using their new sounds (e.g. “Would you rather have a pet rat or a pet rhino?”). We’ve already made several examples for free on our teachers pay teachers site here.


C. Practice worksheets:

Using the sound packs linked below, practice words with their new sounds in phrases or sentences. If the student would like to DIY it, have them draw or write out ten words that have their new sound. After they’re finished, they can practice each word aloud three times each.


  • We created individual sound PDFs that include all levels of practice and can be downloaded here.


We hope the background information and speech strategies above help shine a little light on the speech therapy journey. Learning to make new sounds is a team effort and we are lucky be part of that team. If you're looking for a speech-language pathologist to join your child's team at school or home, book a call with us to see how we can help.




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