Category Archives: Articulation

Targeting Speech and Language Goals through Book Read Alouds

One of the best and easiest ways to practice your child’s speech and language skills are to read with them. By talking about the story or asking questions about what you read, you can practice and reinforce many important language skills.

Articulation/Speech Sounds: 

  • Pick 1 or 2 sounds your child is working on to target while reading a book. They can read to you and you can both listen for correct or incorrect productions of their sounds. If you are reading to them, listen for their correct or incorrect sound productions in their responses to questions or discussion about the book. If they make a mistake, have them correct the sounds. You could prompt them by saying the following: Oh I heard Tan I have a tard, let’s try can and card again with your good /k/ sound. Another prompt could be: Is it tan or can?
  • You can also look for words with their sounds in them while you are reading. When you come across one, model it for them and see if they can say it correctly. For younger students, this is a great activity to improve their ability to recognize letters and produce their sounds, also known as letter-sound correspondence.

Language Skills:

  • Talk about the characters in the story.
    • Questions to ask: What makes them a good character, what makes them a bad character, what will the character do next, would you like to meet this character, what character are you most/least like, why or why not? etc.
  • Talk about the setting of the story.
    • Questions to ask: Would you like to visit that place, why or why not, have you ever seen __, what do you like/not like about the setting, etc.
  • Talk about the sequence of events.
  • Talk about the problem/conflict in the story.
  • Make predictions about the story.
  • Talk about new vocabulary your child doesn’t know.

Social Skills:

  • Talk about the characters’ feelings throughout the story. Look at how they changed based on different events or situations. Talk about whether they expressed their feelings appropriately or inappropriately.
  • Talk about character traits in the story.
    • Questions to ask: would you want to be friends with this character, why or why not, what do you like/dislike about them, etc.

Grammar Skills:

  • It might be easiest to read the book completely first. Then go back to look at the different grammar structures you can find in the book.
    • Verb Tenses: See if you can find examples of future, present, and past tense sentences.
      • Present tense: The princess is walking through the forest. Past tense: The evil queen sent her away. Future tense: The princess will find a friend to help her.
    • Possessives: Look through the story for examples of possessives. The princess’ crown, The queen’s mirror, her friend, etc.
    • Plurals: Look through the story for examples of plurals. The horses, the mice, the slippers, etc.


  • If your child stutters and has learned some strategies to produce more fluent speech, you could try to practice these strategies while they read the book. An easy one to practice is using slower speech. When your child is reading, have them use a pacing board by pointing to each circle while reading each word. Just practice using slower, more relaxed speech while reading. You can print pacing boards by searching the web or make one at home by drawing 5 or 6 shapes or using stickers on a piece of paper.

Examples of questions you can ask during the story:

Before you read the book you can ask:

  • What do you think the book will be about?
  • What do you think the book will be about based on the title?
  • Based on the cover artwork, what do you think the story will be about?
  • What do you already know about the topic? (Have you ever seen a horse, been to a farm, gone camping, etc.)

During the story you can ask:

  • Who are the people/characters in the story?
  • What is the setting of the story? Or Where does the story take place? 
  • What is the problem/conflict in the story? 
  • How do you think the characters could solve the problem/conflict?
  • Why did the character do that?
  • What would you do in this situation?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • How do the characters feel on this page?
  • Why did the illustrator draw the artwork this way on this page?
  • If you were in the story, what would you hear, taste, see, or smell right now? 

After reading the book you can ask:

  • Did you like the book? Why or why not?
  • What was your favorite part of the book? Why?
  • What character did you like the most? Why?
  • What character are you most like? Why? 
  • What character are you least like? Why?
  • What surprised you the most in the book? 
  • If this story had a sequel, what would it be about?
  • What do you think the author’s message is? What is the big idea from this book?
  • Do you have any questions for the author of the book?
  • Tell me the story in your own words.

Don’t feel like you have to do everything suggested here during one book reading. That would be a lot. The main goal is to make sure they understood the story and to help them think a little deeper about it. Happy Reading!

Play Games and Practice! A win for everyone!

Games are an excellent way to target MANY language skills. The bonus is kids often don’t realize they are even practicing anything. That’s the secret of many therapists! Here are some ways that you can target speech and language skills while playing any game.

Articulation/Speech Sounds: Pick 1 or 2 sounds your child is working on to target while playing (for this example /k/). When the child is talking, listen to how they are making these sounds. If they make a mistake, have them correct the sounds. You could prompt them by saying the following: Oh I heard Tan I have a tard, let’s try can and card again with your good /k/ sound. Another prompt could be: Is it tan or can?

Language Skills:

  • Sequencing: talk about whose turn it is now, whose turn is next, who already went, etc.
  • Location words: talk about where the person moved, are they going forward, backward, up the ladder, down the slide, you landed on this space, you jumped over me, etc.
  • Vocabulary: Different games will use a different set of vocabulary. Talk about colors, numbers, game characters, places in the game (Ex. Candyland- you are moving to Grandma Nut’s house), and so much more! Again, each game has a different opportunity to target vocabulary so play often and switch up the games!
  • Asking and answering questions: How many did you get, Where did you land? Who is that, How many more to win, Who is in front of you, Who is behind you, Who is in the lead right now, Who is last right now, etc.


  • Verb Tenses: Games give a good opportunity to practice making complete sentences. You could target past, present, and future tenses in your sentences. For example, I moved 5 spaces, I am moving 5 spaces, I will move 5 spaces. I jumped over you, I am jumping over you, I will jump over you.
  • Possessives: When asking the question Who’s turn is it you could get a variety of responses such as:
    • Mine, yours, his, hers, ours (if playing on a team)
    • Have the child turn it into a sentence: It is my turn, it is your turn, it is his turn, etc.
    • It is Johnny’s turn, It is Sarah’s turn, etc.

Social Skills:

  • Taking turns: Some kids have a hard time realizing that they have to take turns. Games are a natural way to practice this skill.
  • Good sportsmanship: Model being a good sport and practicing congratulating others when they win and comforting others when they lose. (Congratulations, good game, better luck next time, it doesn’t matter who wins because we all had fun, etc.)
  • Using social language- You can practice asking for things the child needs to take their turn. Instead of handing them the dice, pretend you don’t realize they need it. Force them to ask for what they need. Can I have the dice please, I need another card, Can you help me, etc.
  • Commenting: Each game will have different things to comment on. Many of my students like games where unexpected things happen. In Pop the Pig you don’t know when the pig will “pop” so they often talk about that while playing and say things like: Ahh you’re going to win, It’s going to pop, oh man I don’t get any burgers, etc.
  • Emotions: Some games elicit suspense like my Pop the Pig example. Some kids get scared when they don’t know what will happen, some get excited to see the action. You can talk about whatever emotions your child is feeling. If they have a hard time losing, this could be a natural way to talk it through and label the feeling for them and talk about how they can deal with that emotion. For example, It looks like you’re sad (or angry, upset, frustrated) that you lost. It’s ok to feel a little sad but sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t. What can we do to help you feel better? Let’s try taking a deep breath to feel better. You can model strategies for feeling calm.

Fluency: If your child stutters and has learned some strategies to produce more fluent speech, you could try to practice these strategies while playing the game. An easy one to practice is using slower speech. When it is the child’s turn, have them use a pacing board by pointing to each circle and say a simple sentence. It could be: it is my turn. Just practice using slower, more relaxed speech to decrease stuttering. You can print pacing boards by searching the web or make one at home by drawing 5 or 6 shapes or using stickers on a piece of paper.

Great Board Games for Therapy:

  • Candyland
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Guess Who
  • Guess Where
  • Sorry
  • Memory
  • Pop the Pig
  • Greedy Granny
  • Zingo
  • Don’t Break the Ice
  • Sequence
  • Jenga
  • Apples to Apples Jr.
  • Uno
  • Hedbanz
  • Ned’s Head
  • Pictureka
  • Go Fish
  • Spot It
  • Shark Bite
  • Bingo
  • Pop Up Pirate
  • Sneaky Snacky Squirrel
  • Yahtzee

Making and Practicing Speech Sounds

When most people think of speech therapy, they think of kids working on their sounds. That is a big part of speech and language therapy but not all we work on. But, that is the focus of this post!

Once a speech therapist figures out what sounds a child needs to work on, most therapists follow the same basic therapy structure to practice those sounds. Once a child can make the sound reliably (80% of the time or more), it is time to move to the next level of difficulty. Here is an example with the /m/ sound:

  • Isolation- can the child make the sound by itself: mmmmmm
  • Word level- can the child make the sound correctly in a word:
    • Beginning of a word: make
    • Middle of a word: hammer
    • End of a word: jam
  • Sentence level- can the child make the sound correctly in a sentence: I make a sandwich, I use a hammer, I eat jam.
  • Reading level- can the child make the sound correctly when reading aloud
  • Conversation level- can the child make the sound correctly when speaking spontaneously in a conversation with someone else

Generalization is our ultimate goal: can the child use the sound correctly in any situation

It can take a lot of practice to break the old habit of saying a sound incorrectly and form a new habit. Articulation therapy is all about practice, practice, practice.

Below are some prompts for children if their speech therapist has already started working on the sounds with them. I wouldn’t recommend trying to teach them a brand new sound with these prompts alone. They are just meant to be reminders about what they’ve already learned and practiced in therapy.

Here are some prompts you can say to your child for various speech sounds:

  • p/b/m- “Put your lips together”
  • t/d/n- “Put your tongue up behind your teeth”
  • k/g/ing- “Put your tongue tip down and pull your tongue back in your mouth”
  • f/v- “Put your lip under your top teeth”
  • th- “Stick your tongue out and blow”
  • l- “Put your tongue up to your teeth”
  • s/z- “Close your teeth and smile”
  • ch/j/sh- “Close your teeth, round your lips, put your tongue up to the bump behind your teeth”
  • r- “Close your teeth, round your lips, pull your tongue back and up”
  • w- “Round your lips”

Other ways to prompt your child- These are some examples to prompt the s sound-  “I heard pit, can you say sssspit?” “Is it pit, or spit?” “Try that word again with your good s sound.” “Remember to close your teeth and smile”

Ideas For Practice

Activity 1: Pick at least 20 words from your child’s word list and practice saying the words correctly using their sounds (The focus is on the child saying it correctly, not reading the word. Say the word for your child and have them repeat it). Then have them try to say the word correctly in a sentence. Make note of words pronounced correctly and incorrectly.

Activity 2: Play a board game with your student/family. Talk about whose turn it is, where each person has to move to, colors on the board, how many spaces they need to move, etc. Have your child ask for things they need to complete their turn- I need the dice please, Can I have a card, etc. Board games encourage turn-taking, color identification, counting, social language, asking/answering questions, following directions/rules, etc. Some great board games for language are Hedbanz, Ned’s Head, Guess Who, Guess Where, Pictureka, Sorry, Spot It, Pop the Pig, Memory Games, Uno, Apples to Apples Jr., Go Fish, etc. Encourage them to use their speech sounds. If they forget to say their sound, ask them using their error (for example- “is it dame or game”). Have your child repeat the word again with their correct sound.

Playing gamees is a great way to target many speech goals!

Activity 3: Read a book together. Look for words that have your child’s sound(s) in them. Have your child say the word correctly while they read. If a parent is reading the story, stop and model the word for your child and have them repeat it with their sound. For example- “There is the word lion, say lion with your good L sound”. 

Activity 4: Play I spy- in your house, in the car, outside, wherever! Try to find objects that start with your child’s target sound(s). For a child working on s- I spy something with eight legs, that builds a web, it’s an insect- I spy a spider, I spy a stick, I spy a sock, etc.

Activity 5: Play catch/roll a ball to each other. Every time you get the ball you have to name a word that starts with your child’s sound(s). Depending on your child’s skill level, it may be easier to focus on one sound at a time if they are working on multiple sounds. If they won’t get too confused- go ahead and name any word starting with any of their sounds.  

Activity 6: Look for objects in the newspaper, magazines, or around the house that start with your child’s sound. Cut out the pictures or write down the things you find on a piece of paper. Send in the pictures or words you found for me to see so we can practice them too.

Activity 7: Pick 5-10 words that start with your child’s sound(s). Write them on notecards or a piece of paper. Leave the paper in a room of your house. Every time you go in that room, your child has to say those words correctly. Make several lists for various rooms in the house. You could also do this before he can turn on the TV, open the fridge, play a video game, etc. If you do this consistently, they will start to get really good at saying these words correctly and reading the words. After a week or when they have mastered them, change the words on the list to target more words.

Activity 8: Record your child reading for 5 minutes.  Listen to the recording and stop it when you hear an error. Try and correct the error. Make note of words pronounced correctly and incorrectly. Send in the words pronounced correctly and incorrectly so we can practice them too.

Activity 9: Pick a time to talk about your child’s day (or whatever topic) for 5 minutes while you listen for correct and incorrect speech sound productions. If your child makes a mistake, have them repeat their words again correctly- for example, “I heard pit did you mean pick?”

Activity 10: Pick 10 words from your child’s word list and write a story with them using the words. After you use all the words and complete the story, underline or highlight the target words. Have your child read the story, if they can, or have them say the words when you get to it. Send the story to school so I can hear your child read it.

Try different ways to practice and have fun!

Sound Loaded Stories

Reading is a great way to target speech and language goals. This particular website lists ideas for books to read that are loaded with a particular sound. These kinds of books are especially great for articulation practice. Check your child’s IEP to find out the specific sounds they are targeting in therapy. If you’re still not sure, contact your child’s Speech-Language Pathologist to find out what sounds your child is working on.

Smithsonian Tween Tribune Website

This website offers current events articles that are available at different reading levels.   These reading passages could be used for articulation and fluency practice. Students can also practice self-monitoring their articulation when reading. You could also use the articles to practice answering questions and retelling stories in the correct sequence or with correct grammar!