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Let's talk about some ideas for targeting speech sounds with kindergarten students. In my experience, these young students require pictures and predictability when working on articulation and phonological targets. My materials prep often looks different for kindergarten students as compared to other elementary-aged students. While I don't use the same therapy materials every time, you can bet the plans recur. Here are a few tips & ideas for kindergarten speech sound sessions.

Tip 1:
Use recognizable, age-appropriate images with words paired on each target card. Young students need pictures AND words to aid in literacy development. 

Tip 2:
I pair those same target cards within varied activities and my students think they are games! Fun makes for cooperation and engagement! Try some of these activities with your target cards.
  • Tic Tac Toe-Draw a board large enough to put your target cards in each spot. Remove and say a card prior to adding your "X" or "O" mark.
  • Sort cards into BEGINNING, MIDDLE or END to work on sound placement within a word.
  • Add your cards to a bag or container and put an "X" on the back of one card (or any other letter you would like them to recall). Students can stay away from the “X” or try to be the first to find the target letter.
  • Roll a Card-Use a dry erase maker and board (or write on the table) to draw numbers 1-6 and place a target card under each number. Roll a die to see which card to practice. 
  • Spin a Card-Use a spinner to point to target cards or determine the number of times to practice each target.
  • Add Cards to a Craft-Print or copy cards (black & white) to add to any craft or open-ended articulation worksheets. I reduce the size when copying for mini speech sound cards. This is great for home practice too!
  • Feed Your Cards-Feed your cards to anything. I have a small flip-a-lid garbage can that I attach character "mouths" to for feeding cards. I also picked up some mini recycle bins at a dollar store for "recycling" cards to practice.
  • Hide Your Cards-Hide your cards in a sensory bin. Use cut up straws, gift bag paper filler, or garland to fill your container. Use toy plastic tongs to pick up cards to practice.
Tip 3: 
Don't forget to add in sight word targets and higher levels of speech sound practice as soon as possible for student success, expansion of utterances and literacy development. I pair target cards with carrier phrases/sentence starters.

Tip 4:
Remember the predictability above...using the same target cards fosters confidence and success in young learners, while also allowing for progress monitoring for the SLP. That doesn’t mean I don’t use other targets, as I do for generalization and variety, I just don’t always need to break the routine if students are engaged and meeting or exceeding goals!

If you need articulation picture cards in color or black & white, I would be honored if you took at look at my products. Some of the activities I discussed are included within the interactive sheets.

If you are a traveling SLP or would like your targets right at your fingertips, try organizing your cards in a container! Check out my free organization cover.

How do you prepare materials for your young speech sound students? I'm also eager to add to my SLP tricks!

Do you have students that are stumuable for all speech sounds, just require a model or cue? I’ve started using these bookmarks for quick drill classroom practice to aid automaticity and promote generalization. I’m in classrooms all day long and accustomed to the flow of most rooms. Taking 5 minutes to work with these students using Speech Sound Bookmarks is helping me fit this additional service delivery into my schedule. 

I print on card stock and cut multiple copies, then clip together individualized packs for these quick drill students. I throw them in my therapy bag so they are ready when I’m near that student. I pull out the bookmark or stack and drill with the student for 5 minutes and then leave the bookmark behind for their classroom book box or take home folder. The next week, I switch out the sound, if the student has more than one target, or keep practicing the same targets. A good tip is to make 2 copies of each in case the one you leave behind gets misplaced. In my experience though, the bookmarks have remained part of their classroom!

Will this work for you? Students can create their own speech sound bookmark with words from the curriculum or a favorite book. You can also download these FREE bookmarks for every sound.

Do you use carrier phrases in speech therapy? I do. ALL. THE. TIME.

Sentence starters help to increase mean length of utterance. Students feel success knowing they can read many of the words in the phrases, even if they are non- readers, the repetition of the phrases quickly makes them readers! They often want to self select a carrier phrase strip to use yielding engagement in the activity.

I use my handy ring of carrier phrases/sentence starters with almost any activity I’m using in therapy. These are especially present in my kindergarten and 1st grade sessions within the classroom. 
  • Pair with a story read aloud for targeting grammatical structures (He has... They are...), labeling (I see... I found...) and categorizing and describing (A...is (a type of)... A...is/has (attributes)... A...can (function)...).
  • Pair with articulation cards to move to the phrase and sentence level during therapy. I don’t often wait to use my carrier phrases. Once a target can be used correctly at the word level, we are quickly trying a carrier phrase!
  • Pair with vocabulary cards for labeling (I have... It is...) or describing (A...is/has (attributes)...).
  • Pair with mini objects for labeling (I found... I see...) or describing (using the interactive pieces).
  • Use during group conversations to aid communication attempts (I like... He is... I want... Can I...)
Don’t miss out on downloading this free resource to aid in expanding student utterances! 

While I spend most of my day pushing services into classrooms, I carve out some quick articulation drill in or near classrooms with my older elementary students for that focused practice and increased trials.

I have compiled some of my favorite materials and ideas to share.
  • Would You Rather-I have a book of these two-choice questions which my students love. You can also find many free downloads on Teachers Pay Teachers. These are great for carryover as well as targeting /r/ and “th” at the sentence level when expecting students to respond in a complete sentience with the starter, I would rather...
  • Erik Raj Apps-Erik has so many amazing apps for articulation (no affiliation). My students can’t get enough of these engaging drill activities.
  • Word and Sentence Lists-You can find free and paid downloads on Teachers Pay Teachers. I also like the Super Duper Quick Take Along books (no affiliation). Pair these with open-ended worksheets for home practice, like these.
  • Curriculum Words-Take curriculum targets right from classroom texts or materials. It makes articulation drill curriculum relevant and provides extra practice on classroom targets as well. You can pair these with my Essential Strategies and Graphic Organizer articulation sheet.

  • No Prep Articulation Worksheets-I have some of my favorites from Teachers Pay Teachers and I created these spinner articulation worksheets that are perfect for progress monitoring.

I always have an open-ended reinforcement game along with me. Often these are just paper games I’ve collected over the years where students pull a card from a container. I may use quick and compact games like dice or card games, too. These materials also travel with me:
  • a mirror 
  • a dry erase board and marker
  • tally counters
  • a spinner
  • foam dice
  • a whisper-type phone

How do you work on articulation skills with 3rd-5th graders during quick drill? I’m always looking for more ideas to add to my favorites!

Many SLPs have used the popular Rory's Story Cubes for speech therapy. I’ve also seen Roll a Story dice by Junior Learning and Story Time Dice. I love using my Articulation Rolling Cubes by Speech Corner. I am not affiliated with any of these story dice companies, rather I personally own and have used some in speech therapy. 

I always struggled with how to effectively incorporate the dice in mixed groups while also making sure I targeted individualized goals. Then, I developed Story Telling Dice Companion Mats to incorporate common speech and language targets for quick grab and go therapy.

I copied my companion mats on colored paper and cut each individual half sheet to use in dry erase pockets (no affiliation). I can individually select sheets for students during a session in mixed groups. Since I own a good amount of story dice, I can select packs that work best for each mat. Students have choice when rolling and selecting their dice for each spot during the hands-on interactive activity. This allows time for me to work individually with each student in groups while also knowing target skills are being explicitly practiced. I have found there is very little teaching required for each mat and since students continue to roll multiple times during a session, increased trials provide for great data collection!

I hope you check out this companion and let me know if you have any other ways to work with story dice in speech therapy. I’d love to add even more mats, like these in the free sample, suggested by a dear SLP friend. Download the sample and give the mats a try.

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