Friday, January 23, 2015

Articulation Tricks {My Experience}

Over the years, I've had the pleasure of working with countless students with articulation disorders.  The most common speech sounds I seem to work on are /s/ and /r/. They both can be tricky suckers...sometimes I really do get frustrated teaching them.  However, when one of my students does produce an approximation for the first time, I feel like there is happy music playing and fireworks going off in my speech room! {I'm sure people walking by are wondering what on earth I am cheering about!} It. Is. Awesome.  Here are some tricks I use to elicit these, at times difficult, speech sounds.

*There are Amazon affiliate links in the post!

/S/ ~ The Pesky Lisp.

  • The Butterfly Technique
    • I know this technique as "the butterfly technique."  It has been around for many, many years.  This technique is awesome for getting rid of those lisps!  In my experience, the students enjoy learning it and have given me great feedback.  They tell me the remember to use it in the classroom and at home. {Disclaimer: this does not work for all students, but has worked for many of mine!}
    • Caroline Bowen's Website has a great overview of how to do this!
  • A Couple Resources I LOVE for /s/!

The Dreaded /R/ Sound.

  • Softly Biting the Tongue
    • I have used this trick for a few years now.  It involves the following steps:
    1. First, I will audio tape them repeating the /r/ sound with a syllable (rae-ree-ri-ri-ro-ru) and repeating some /r/ words after the SLP.  
    2. Next, I will show the student where the correct placement of the articulators needs be in order to produce a correct /r/ sound. (I will often show them the Phonetics: University of Iowa App on my iPad).
    3. Using my Jumbo Mighty Mouth hand puppet from Super Duper Publications {pictured above}, I show the student the back part of the tongue I want them to try and lightly and softly bite down.  They must lightly bite both sides of the tongue. (Make sure they are biting lightly and softly--we don't want any one hurting themselves)!
    4. I will use a mirror to show them where I will softly bite on my tongue when I am modeling the sound for them.
    5. Then, I will have them try a few repetitions using the technique.  I will also be audio taping them on the iPad again.  This way we can listen to the difference in their productions of the /r/ from before they learned the technique to them using the technique.
***Playing With Words 365 blog has a fantastic blog post about the above /r/ tricks. The blog post is titled, "My Tricks to Teaching the /r/ Sound."  Her tricks were all tricks I have used since I began therapy too!  I do not want to reinvent the wheel, so stop on over to her blog post and see her fabulous tricks for /r/!

***Judy Kuster was one of my professors in graduate school at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  She has a wonderful website full of resources.  To learn more about the /r/ sound and therapy head over to her "A collection to the approaches to the "R" sound" website. Bookmark it while you're at it!


  1. I've started using the "karla" technique with my kids after YEARS of using "e" as a starter, and it's working with some of them! A couple of them have been able to isolate the /r/ from /karla/. I'm still working to find the best technique with some of them, though. :(

    1. Oooh Mary, I like that /karla/ technique! I will be trying that soon with some students!