Practicing articulation at home is a crucial aspect for speech therapy to work well. Repetition ensures that newly learned language skills or information are ingrained in their minds.
Since kids spend most of their time at home, you must integrate articulation games or activities into their routines. This allows your child to reinforce the new things they have picked up in speech therapy sessions.
Preparing for Articulation Practice
A great way to structure articulation activities is to make it a mix of play and articulation practice. Enter articulation games. Your kid would be motivated, too, because they would enjoy every bit of it. Depending on the stage that your child is at, have them practice a minimum of three targets (word, phrase, sentence).
If you - the parent(s), participate in the articulation games too, it could be more fun! Before taking your turn at the game, mention three targets too. You could make an error on purpose to see whether they are paying attention and pick up on it. If they do, you forfeit your turn to them!
Now, here are some great articulation games or activities for articulation practice that you can do at home.
Articulation Treasure Hunt
This is an exciting game, especially since it involves ‘treasure.’ You could get miniature medals or trinkets that would be the reward for pronouncing words correctly. So, you could put these treasures under small cups or bowls. You then place an articulation card on top of the bowl or cup. Use words with different sounds, as this is good for language development.
To get the treasure underneath, your child has to pronounce the target word correctly. When they do, they get to lift the cup and get the treasure. They don’t necessarily have to be keepsakes so that you can recycle them. However, if you want to use proper gift items or freebies, you could find fun stuff like stickers or, on occasion, candy!
You could also transform this into a scavenger hunt. Hide the containers all around the house, and let the scavenger hunt begin.
Egg Carton Toss
Get an egg carton and number the spaces. Your child then tosses a coin into the carton. For each number the coin falls on, your child has to say their target word on your word lists or worksheets that number of times.
The repetition is good for the correct production of the word and language development. This game is ideal for word level.
This game is excellent for sentence level and would typically require more than one player. You make the printable picture cards you got from your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) into flashcards. You then request two copies, stick a colored piece of paper onto each back, and cut them out.
Shuffle the whole deck and deal 3 cards to the players. The first player requests a card in this format (“Do you have a cat?”). If the other player does, they hand it over to player one and said player puts both pairs down. If player two doesn’t have a cat, he tells player one, “Go fish.” Player one then selects a card from the standing pile.
Whoever has the most cards when the pile is exhausted wins. You can record points on a piece of paper.
Mother May I
This is another of the several articulation games that is great for sentence level language skills. Using printable picture cards from your ccc-slp speech therapists, you create a path that is long and winding. There should be some sort of treat or treasure at the path’s end, like candy. Whoever gets to the end of the path first is the winner.
So, your child starts the name and could say something like “Mother, may I go horse?” If they pronounce “horse” correctly, you respond, “Yes, you may.” They then get to move their pawn to the horse. If they don’t say the target word properly, you respond, “No, you may not.”
Your child remains in the same position and will try again during the next round. Now, it’s your turn, and you follow the same format, saying, “Mother, may I go horse.” To encourage your child and set them up to win, try to make errors intentionally. They may also pick up on these errors and correct you, facilitating learning and developing articulation skills.
Beat the Clock
This would require using printable pictures from your SLP who has a ccc-slp and a timepiece that has a second hand. The nature of the game makes it excellent for all speech therapy levels. You stack a pile of target words from your word lists or worksheets, and once the timer goes off, your child starts to say them one after the other as fast as they can.
Once they’ve pronounced one correctly, flip over to the next, and so on. For sentence level, they would need to make it in sentence form, for instance, “I see a DOG.” Record the time it takes them to go through all these words. The goal is for them to beat their initial best, building articulation skills along the way.
This is a 2-in-1 activity because they get to learn in a fun way. Sit down to play your child’s favorite board game. Before your child takes their turn, they must say their target word, phrase, or sentence from your word lists or worksheets. This is a pretty comprehensive exercise, which makes it ideal for several speech therapy levels.
Narrating Favorite Stories
This is a pretty comprehensive activity, too, because it allows your child to think for themselves. For this activity, you would need picture books your child has read several times and is familiar with.
However, instead of reading the text in the book (if your child is reading already), have them narrate the story in their own words using just the pictures. Of course, you may have to cover the text. Listen carefully while they are narrating and correct any speech errors they make during the storytelling.
I Spy Books
It is a 2-in-1 activity, just like board games, and is excellent for all levels. Get out an “I Spy” book, and before beginning the race to find an object on the page, have them practice 3 target words. Have them practice these words at least 3 times before the next round of “I Spy.”
What Is Needed to Develop Articulation?
Most of the work that goes into articulation development is beyond the words or the images. These mainly serve as tools to develop the mechanisms and behaviors necessary for articulation. Here are some of the building blocks necessary to make this happen:
Hearing has to be well-developed to pick up or detect speech sounds. The middle ear must function well for your child to identify and differentiate between target sound as well as process and assimilate speech sounds. Anything affecting the ears, such as ear infections or colds, which impact hearing, could cause fluctuations in hearing levels, impacting hearing and speech.
Concentration and Attention
Being present at every point and following through on activities is crucial for articulation development. Concentration is necessary to stick with what has to be done long enough for the effects to occur.
Attention follows staying present even in the face of potential distractions. In this case, it could focus on speech and target sound for the duration needed to process and retain, sharpening articulation skills.
Several muscles are typically involved in making the sounds that the mouth produces, such as the vocal cords, diaphragm, tongue, jaw, palate, and lips. Proper coordination and movement of these muscles is necessary for proper speech.
Beyond this, it is crucial to make a meaningful sound. Articulation disorders like apraxia are caused by a form of disconnect between the brain signals and muscles needed for speech.
How Do You Improve Articulation?
Improving articulation is a gradual process that has to be deliberately carried out. You have to set up the playing field such that at any point in time, you are doing something that facilitates this development. Here are some things you can do to improve articulation:
Set up a game such that you use a target sound or several while the game is ongoing, and you repetitively model them. For instance, “baa baa” goes the sheep, or “hee-haw hee-haw” goes the donkey.
Ensure that even when you’re not actively playing any articulation games, you talk to them a lot. This way, they listen to the correct pronunciation of several words throughout the day, and it starts to get ingrained in them.
Maintain Eye Contact
When your child speaks, ensure you’re keeping eye contact with them or at least looking at them. Encourage them to also look at you closely so that they can copy how you make different sounds or carry out the correct production of words. Imitation is a crucial tool for speech development and articulation.
Limit Background Noise
At home, limit or eliminate background sounds like those from the television or music player. This reduces distractions and allows your child to engage properly in conversation. This is particularly important when dealing with articulation disorders like apraxia.
Read to Them Often
Reading is a great way to enhance the process. This activity is great because it is a comprehensive one, teaching how to pronounce words correctly and stirring your child’s creativity, too.
Vocabulary development is not left out either. You could also use apps such as audiobook apps. These apps have some of the best readers and can significantly help with articulation disorders like apraxia. Audiobook apps are also very convenient and require no prep, unlike other activities for home practice.
If their speech is unclear, repeat the correct version to them. For instance, if the child says, “dat ee my twoy,” you reply, “yes, that’s your toy.” Acknowledging and repeating shows you listen to the child while enforcing the proper language model. So, in essence, you respond to the message your child is passing across, not necessarily the specific word pronunciation.
If you’re having trouble understanding what your child is saying, ask them to show you. You shouldn’t worry about explaining that you don’t understand what they said. You could also request that they repeat themself, and you try to figure it out. If this doesn’t work, go with the showing.
How to Make Practicing Articulation at Home Easier
Initially, this could seem like quite a bit of work; however, over time, you would ease into the system you would have created. To make the process easier, here’s some tips that can help:
Routine: speech therapy activities for articulation should be a part of the established daily routine. For instance, it could be the last activity of the night post-brushing. Or you could fix it for earlier in the day after school. Have them practice speech often, too.
Short Intervals: articulation practice should be done in a few minutes so that it doesn’t become tedious. Ten minutes daily would work wonders. You could even do fewer speech therapy sessions. The main idea is to keep at it since progress is gradual.
Repeat: frequency is what does the trick, which is why short durations are advised for home practice. For instance, 5-minute daily practice throughout the week beats a single 30-minute practice. This can help with articulation disorders like apraxia.
Spice Things Up: learning should be done in a fun way, and this shouldn’t be any different. This is why engaging in fun activities your child loves for home practice is excellent. This way, they look forward to both the game and practice. During practice speech, be sure to shower praise and celebrate milestones. Provide treats and make it a wholesome time overall.
Stay the Course: your speech therapists (with ccc-slp) will notify you of the position that your child is in with relation to the speech therapy steps. You should do easy articulation activities that are in line with this step. Your SLP could also provide specific articulation speech therapy activities for that particular step and notify you when it is time to move along. All you have to do is listen and follow the instructions provided to you.
Getting your child’s speech to improve is a gradual process and one that you have to commit to. Practicing articulation therapy activities at home gets easier and more natural with practice.
In addition, since your child would be extra relaxed at home, they would find it even easier to practice these easy articulation activities. Be sure to interface with your SLP often. Finally, beyond seeing this process as work, enjoy the fun activities too.