Speech-language Newsletter: October

Articulation: Helping your child produce the /th/ correctly

What is an Articulation Disorder? By Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP Super Duper Handouts

Speech sound production is a complex process that involves precise planning, coordination, and movement of different articulators (such as the jaw, lips, teeth, tongue, palate, cheeks, and “voice box”). Correct articulation produces clear speech. Another name for clear speech is intelligibility. Errors in speech sound production are known as articulation errors. Articulation errors are common in children when they first learn to speak.


An example of this is a toddler who says “wabbit” for “rabbit.” Most children eventually outgrow such speech errors, which are a normal part of learning to produce new sounds. (Note: Regional dialects, such as a “Boston /r/”, are not articulation errors.) When a child demonstrates articulation errors beyond those of typical development, he/she may need to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The SLP evaluates the type of error(s) the child is making and may develop an intervention or therapy plan. In speech/language sessions, the SLP teaches the child how to make the sound. He/she shows the child how to move the articulators, what type of sound it is (a “whistly” sound versus a “stop” sound, for example), and whether to turn voice on or off.


A child can make the following articulation errors when producing speech sounds: Substitutions, Omissions, Distortions, and/or Additions. An easy way to remember these is to use the acronym SODA!


S – Substitutions Definition: Replace one sound with another sound. Examples: “wed” for “red,” “thoap” for “soap,” “dut,” for “duck”


O – Omissions (also known as deletions) Definition: Omit a sound in a word. Note: This error affects intelligibility the most, making speech more difficult for the listener(s) to understand. Examples: “p ay the piano” for “play the piano”, “g een nake” for “green snake”


D – Distortions Definition: Produce a sound in an unfamiliar manner. Examples: “pencil” (nasalized—sounds more like an “m”) for “pencil,” “sun” (lisped—sounds “slushy”) for “sun”


A – Additions Definition: Insert an extra sound within a word. Examples: “buhlack horse” for “black horse,” “doguh,” for “dog”

What causes articulation disorders?

For most children, the cause of the speech sound disorder in unknown. Other speech sound disorders can be linked to things such as a cleft palate, problems with the teeth, hearing loss, or difficulty controlling the movements of the mouth. Neurological disorders that can affect articulation include cerebral palsy.

  • Oral Apraxia: Difficulty making voluntary movements of the tongue and lips or with combining movements including those needed to make speech sounds. As a result, speech may be difficult to produce or have many inconsistent articulation errors.
  • Dysarthria: Paralysis, weakness or generally poor coordination of the muscles of the mouth. This can make speech slow, inaccurate, slurred, and/or hypernasal (when too much sound comes through the nose).
SPEECH: TH set 1

Lindamood Bell's Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) program

The LiPS® program teaches students to feel the actions of their lips, tongues and vocal chords, and to notice and label them. Sounds are introduced in pairs (Brothers) and labeled quiet or noisy, based on vibrations of the vocal cords. These sounds have names that help students remember the parts of the mouth that are used to produce the sounds.


Tongue Coolers: th, th are called tongue coolers because you stick your tongue out and blow the air. The air makes your tongue cool. In some words the 'th' represents an unvoiced tongue cooler and in some words the 'th' represents a voiced tongue cooler. To determine if the the sound is voiced, put your hand over your throat while making the sound. If the sound is voiced or noisy, you will be able to feel the vibration in your throat. Sample voiceless 'th' words are mouth, bath, thank. Sample voiced 'th' words are this, then, bathe. We call the 'th' and 'th' brother sounds because they make your mouth do the same thing, but one brother is quiet and one is noisy. Just like real 'brothers' there are some things that are the same about them and some that are different.

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Practice Articulation at Home

Using flashcards can make practicing your speech very enjoyable. If your child is able to produce his sound correctly 40% or more of the time in single words, practicing at home will be beneficial. Find 20 robust vocabulary words from your curriculum that contain your sound. Write each word from that list on two 3x5 cards. Make sure that your child is able to read the words. Practice saying your words with these games:


1. MYSTERY PICK: An adult chooses a card (not telling which one), and places it into the deck, shuffles, and fans the cards out. The student guesses which card the adult chose using good speech.

2. UP on the CUPS: Have the child close his/her eyes. Hide a small object beneath one of three opaque cups. On top of each cup place a stimulus card. The student guesses under which cup the object is hidden, by naming the card resting on top.

3. PICK 2: The Student picks 2 cards from the stimulus deck, then must make one sentence using both words. Rules can vary: the sentence must make sense, or the sentence must be nonsense.

4. MEMORY LINE UP: Place 3,4,5 cards in a row. The student says each, then closes his/her eyes, while the adult switches the order. The student then must say them as she/he put the cards back into the correct order.

5. SAY IT in a FLASH: Place stimulus cards around the room. Turn the lights down low, and student shines a flashlight onto a card and says it using good speech.

6. HATS OFF: Place a large hat on the floor, upside down. Student says each card as they attempt to toss the cards into the hat. Variation: use a ball and a basketball hoop or trashcan- say a word before each turn.

7. MEMORY: Place all the cards, word down, on the table. Taking turns with an adult, each person turns over two cards. If they match, the child must read the word and can keep the pair. If the two cards do not make a pair, they are turned over and the next person has a turn. The person with the most pairs wins.

8. GO FISH:In order to play Fish, you need to make more flashcards. You will need 14+ pairs. Deal five cards to each player. Leave the undealt cards face down as a draw pile. Starting with the player at dealer's left, each player asks another for a card. For example: "Kevin, do you have Restaurant?" In order to ask, you must already have a card with Restaurant. Whenever your request for a card is filled, it remains your turn. Continue with your turn. When the player you ask can't oblige, you'll be told to "Go Fish." Pick up the top card of the draw pile. If it's the card you called for, show the card at once, and your turn goes on. Otherwise, your turn ends. Play proceeds until the draw pile is gone.

9. TEACHER: give an adult a spelling test using the words

10. SPELLING TEST: Have an adult give you a spelling test using the words

11. ANY BOARD GAME: Say 3 words before taking each turn while playing a board game that you have at home.

12. READERS THEATER: Ask your family to put on a Readers Theater Play and practice the words while performing. Ask me to print out the script for you or find it on the StoryTown website.

13. HIDE AND SEEK: Hide cards around a room in your house. Say the word when you find it

14. DETECTIVE: Analyze each word to determine if your sound comes at the beginning, middle or end of the word

15. TONGUE TWISTERS: Make up a tongue twister using each card. Have the sentence 4+ words with 3 or more of the words starting with your sound.

16. TIC TAC TOE: Cut out 6 blue squares and 6 red squares. The adult gets one color and the child gets the other. Place 9 flashcards on a tic tac toe grid. Read the word of the box you want to claim and then place your square down. The person that gets 3 in a row wins.

17. BEAN BAG TOSS: Lay out flashcards face down up the floor. Toss the bean bag and identify the flashcard it lands on.

18. CROSS THE RIVER: Place flashcards on floor in winding manner. Each represents a stepping stone in the river. The student must say the word in order to step on it and cross the river!

By second grade

  • all vowels, /p/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/, /b/, /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, /y/, /t/, /ng/, /l/, /sh/, /ch/, /j/, /zh/

By the age of eight children should be able to produce the following sounds in addition to above:

  • /r/, /s/, /z/, /v/, /th/
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Learning the TH Sound All By Itself

I love teaching the TH sound because it is one of the most visual sounds to teach. Model putting your tongue between your teeth while blowing air at the same time. Most children will have no difficulty imitating this action. Then practice this action with and with out voice. Think of it as a loud th and a quiet th. The reason for this is the TH is pronounced with voice in some words like, “that, this and the” and without voice in other words like, “thank you, theater and thongs.”

Practice the TH Sound in Syllables

Once you have had multiple successful productions of the TH sound all by itself try adding a long or short vowel to the TH sound. For example, “they, the, though, tha, thee, thy…” Then try putting the vowel in front of the the sound, for example, “ath, eth, eeth, ith, uth, oath…” Finally try putting the Th sound in the middle of vowels, for example, “atho, ethee, ootha, othu…” Which ever syllable combination your child is the most successful with will tell you whether you want to begin practice with words that begin with TH, end with Th or have Th occurring in the middle.

Practice the TH Sound in Words

If your child did did the best with TH following the vowel you would begin practicing words that end in TH like, “booth, bath, path, north, moth, mouth…” I prefer to practice with a list of at least 20 words. I like to use pictures to make it more fun. Fun ways to use the pictures include making a snake with the pictures with little treats every 3-4 cards, have the child say the name of the picture, if it is correct put it away, if he/she misses the word put it in a pile to practice later. When you have gone through all the words have your child say the ones they missed 5 times correctly before putting them away. You can also play games like memory, go fish, and bingo to keep it fun. You can download the pictures I have created for words beginning with TH as well as words that have TH in the middle and at the end of the word on the worksheets page. Once your child is able to say these words with 80% accuracy or better, try putting them into a sentence.

Practice the TH Sound in Sentences

I use one sentence and have the child insert all their practice words into that sentence. For example the sentence might be, “They both have a ________.” In the blank you would fill in “They both have a bath, They both have a mouth, They both have a north.” Some sentences will make sense and others will not. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss how to make the sentence correct. If you are practicing the TH in the beginning of words you might use the sentence “That is the _______.” If you are practicing the TH in the middle of words you could use the sentence, “My brother wants a ________.” Feel free to make up your own sentences as well.

Practice the TH Sound in Stories

Following successful sentence productions have your child practice the TH sound while retelling simple stories or while reading aloud depending on the ability level of the child. Be sure to follow this outline until you have achieved mastery of the Th sound in all positions of words (beginning, middle and end of words).

Practice the TH Sound in Conversation

Once your child is able to retell stories with good TH production you will find moving the TH into conversation will go pretty smoothly. You may still have to remind your child from time to time but more often you will be pleased to watch them catch themselves and make the correction on their. Before you know it, you’ll forget they ever had a problem with TH. Good luck!

Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP

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The TH Sound In English

Books to work on the /th/ sound

/th/:

 Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose by: Dr. Seuss

 And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street by: Dr. Seuss

 Would You Rather… by: John Burningham

 Thump, Thump, Rat-a-Tat-Tat by: Gene Baer

 Little Rabbit’s Loose Tooth by: Lucy Bate

 Why do Animals Have Mouths and Teeth? by: Liz Miles

 Cousin Ruth’s Tooth by: Amy MacDonald

 Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! by: Dr. Seuss

 The Little Engine that Could by: Watty Piper

 Are You My Mother? by: P.D. Eastman

 One, Two, Three! by: Sandra Boynton

 Mouths and Teeth by: Elizabeth Miles