Since speech therapy started a few weeks ago I have been preparing the students for articulation practice. I use the 5 Minute Kids Program for all articulation and fluency students in the 4th and 5th grade school where I work. (Check out my other post to see more about the way I use 5 Minute Kids.) Before we start focusing on sounds, I want to make sure that understand the mechanics of their speech sounds. I see the students for about 5 minutes 4 days a week. Here is the plan and explanation for the first 2 weeks of therapy.
Week 1 Day 1: Introduction to Speech Therapy. I explained my reward system and that they will be having speech more often than they used to. We discuss how it is important for them to practice their speech correctly all the time. I compare practicing speech to practicing another sport or activity. I ask them if they can get really good at something that is difficult for them by just practicing once a week. This helps them understand the importance of frequent practice. I also explain my homework expectations. They are assigned a short worksheet once a week which must be completed with their parents so that they can hear them practice and correct errors.
Week 1 Day 2: Goal Setting. I have the students complete a goal setting worksheet which helps them understand what they want to accomplish during therapy, who can help, and how they can reach their goals. After we complete the goal sheet, I ask them to rank on a scale of 1-10 how badly they want to improve their speech (1=doesn’t bother me, I don’t want to work on it -10=it bothers me a lot, I want to fix it NOW). I call this their motivation factor. It helps me understand how motivated the students are to practice on their own and how much it affects them socially.
Week 1 Day 3: Speech TV. We watch the Power Point by Perkilou Products called SPEECH TV. The opening directions tell the student to listen closely to six cartoon characters because they have something in common with them, they need speech therapy. The student is asked to identify the sound/speech errors that the character is making after hearing sound clips and suggest ways they could correct their speech. I use this Power Point to see if students can identify others speech errors. It gives me an idea of how well they are listening to the details of speech. At the end I mention that it is important to listen to their speech so they can hear the errors.
(Week 1 was a short week due to Labor Day.)
Week 2 Day 1: Speech Helpers e-book. This session focuses on how speech is produced. I show them a fantastic e-book from Home Speech Home called Speech Helpers on my iPad. It goes through each speech helper and what sounds it helps produce. We practice each sound in isolation to help them understand how the sound is made. I also talk about the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds. I show them the diagram of the head (included in the e-book) and we discuss all of the parts and how they should be producing their speech target.
Week 2 Day 2: Phoneme Diagrams. I have a blank diagram of the head (similar to what is in the e-book). After we review the anatomy from the previous session, I ask them to make a small mark where their tongue meets the roof of their mouth to make their target sound. Most of my students are /r, s, z, sh, ch, th/. I show them a diagram I made of where their sound should be made and ask them to draw the correct placement on their diagram. The visual helps them understand where in their mouth the sound should be made. I have heard students make the target sound perfectly after this practice.
Week 2 Day 3: Sound Discrimination. It is so important to train their ears to listen for their own errors. I talk about how sometimes their speech can be misunderstood because they didn’t make a sound correctly. They practice listening to my speech and deciding which word I am saying in a field of 2. After a few practices, I have them say a word and I have to guess. I usually use minimal pairs that have the substitution they are using with their target. This way they begin to hear their errors. I use the minimal pairs list from the app Word Vault by Home Speech Home. There are over 425 minimal pairs list in this app. Check out my review here.
Week 2 Day 4: Whack-a-Mole. Using a toy hammer and a Whack-A-Mole game, the students have to hit the correct word from a field of 2 after I say it. For every correct answer, they get more time to play Whack-a-Mole. This is a modification from a product from Speech Room News (here is the link to the product on her website).
Next week in speech therapy we will start practicing their sounds at their target level. It is important to make sure the students understand how the sound is made, why they need speech therapy, what the wrong sound is like, and why they want to improve their speech. This is how I am preparing for artic practice.