Speech Therapy Games

November 8, 2007 @ 6:46 am | Filed under: , , ,

As I’ve mentioned before, mommyspeechtherapy.com is a good source of tips for how to work on specific speech sounds with your children.

As I work (and play) with Wonderboy, I’ve come up with a few games of my own that are helping him practice the new sounds he is learning to produce. One particularly sweet one is how we practice the p sound, which is still relatively new for him. I thought it might help if he could feel it, feel how the air explodes from one’s lips during the puh sound. I touch my lips to his cheek, like a kiss, and say words like piano, pizza, apple, emphasizing the p. He has begun to reciprocate, pressing his little face to my cheek and puhracticing his puhlosives. It’s so cute, I want to eat him up, like pizza or an apple.

We also use the Visual Phonics signs to help make consonant sounds pop for him. Since sign is Wonderboy’s other language, having signs connected with sounds makes a lot of sense to him. If I make the visual phonics sign for the first sound in a word, and then follow with the whole word, both in English and ASL, he gets that the sound itself is something that can be broken out of the word and made on its own. So: buh, buh, baby. The "buh" is the Visual Phonics sign for the sound made by the letter b: you hold the ASL sign for b up to your mouth, and as you say "buh," you move the b sign rapidly away. That’s the phoneme sign.

We do this over and over, all through the day. Guh guh go, kuh kuh car, puh puh pizza. (Yes, more pizza. If you spend much time at my house, you know that we are all about the pizza here. I don’t cook for people. I invite them over for pizza. Can’t make it? Eh, we’ll order that pizza anyway.)

We’re working on developing his listening differentiation skills with a game we play with Rilla. Wonderboy thinks he is teaching things to Rilla (and he is), and this makes it loads of fun for him. He doesn’t realize he’s making big leaps himself.

We have a stack of pictures of objects with sounds we’re working on. Right now it’s the f sound, so we have fish, frog, fire, phone, etc. I lay out two or three of the cards and give Wonderboy or Rilla a block to hold. Then I’ll say the name of one of the items on the cards, and the child whose turn it is puts the block on the right card. It’s a very simple game and both the little ones eat it up.

For Wonderboy, what the game is doing is helping him hear the subtle differences between similar-sounding English words. With his hearing aids, he can hear a good deal of speech, but not everything—not some of the soft, unvoiced consonant sounds. So I lay out pictures of phone and bone, or fish and dish, and the game—which is great fun, especially because of the antics of little miss Rilla—hones his listening skills.

I think he is doing a lot of lip-reading. He’s a crackerjack at the game when he can see my mouth, and has more difficulty if I hide my lips behind a hand. When he sits beside me and chatters away, as is happening almost constantly these days, he cups my chin with one determined little hand, turning my face toward his. This is indescribably sweet, I have to say. At a birthday party a couple of weeks ago, a friend’s mother was watching Wonderboy talk to me, and she said, "That is so dear! The way he studies your face! He can’t take his eyes off you."

It is dear. It’s a good idea, though, to help hone his listening skills without visual clues when we can. So we play another game, also with Rilla, in which each child hold a little ball up to his or her ear, and I cover my mouth and make a sound. The game is simple: when the child hears the sound, he or she drops the ball into a container. We use an empty tennis ball canister. The main purpose of this game is to get Wonderboy into the groove of what happens in a hearing test when we go to the audiologist. In order to accurately test his hearing (and therefore ensure that his hearing aids are calibrated correctly, in the way that will give him the best possible amplification), we need him to respond to each sound he hears. The ball-in-canister game is one we can easily duplicate in the sound booth.

It’s also great fun. Rilla thinks it’s a hoot! Her excitement is infectious, and Wonderboy and I are usually in giggles the whole time. They hold the balls up to their ears just to reinforce that they are going to listen. Wonderboy thinks Rilla jumps the gun a lot; he doesn’t realize that she is hearing sounds that don’t exist for him. He doesn’t seem to hear S or SH at all.

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10 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Monica says:

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  2. felicity says:

    Thank you for all of the speech ideas and for the link. I have two kids in speech needing different things and between the site and your ideas, we’ve added games to our day that have really helped them both.

  3. Brandi says:

    Wow! Thanks for sharing. I have one daughter who has a lot of trouble with speech. We try to help her as much as we can and these ideas should really help. Two other children (I have six children.) are young enough that they are still learning how to form some sounds. I do speech therapy with them as well.

  4. Tammy says:

    Melissa, you might also enjoy the Hearing Journey. Every week they post a new activity for preschool and elementary school level for hard of hearing children. I use it as a backdrop for working on social developmental skills with my autistic daughter. Earlier in the week we had a blast doing the Three Bears mural.

    I have been my daughter’s speech therapist since we started homeschooling back in 1995. I realized that she has syntactic aphasia, which meant she struggled to put words together so as to make sense. I finally found the right program three years ago and we are finally seeing progress.

    I think parents are the best way to practice good speech and language because they have so many more opportunities than X minutes, Y times a week. We just lack the know how and, with so much information available, it is getting easier!

  5. Sora says:

    My daughter (almost four) just got her new (purple!) hearing aids yesterday. Over the last three months we’ve been navigating the journey of how to help her with her severe speech disorder (which we’ve known about for some time) and mild hearing loss (which came as a complete surprise to us). I have found your blog to be one of the most helpful sources of ideas and information for us. Thank you!

  6. Kemara says:

    I’m so glad you’ve mentioned how hearing aids make words/sounds louder, but not always easier to understand. I lost about 50% of my hearing to ear infections as a baby, but wasn’t diagnosed as hearing impaired until age 12. My teachers thought I wasn’t paying attention during class when I really couldn’t hear them.

    I’m 31 now and received digital hearing aids a few years ago through a state program. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify for it any more. The aids have worn out now and need to be replaced, but insurance doesn’t cover the $8,000 it would cost.

    I do the best I can at work, by watching peoples’ mouths and moving up close to them during conversations. I still miss a great deal and irritate people by asking “huh?” all the time. Don’t get me started on how much I hate talking on the phone! I’ve thought about learning sign language. Only…that takes two people…and no one else at work can sign!

    Do you know of any assistance programs for the hearing impaired that might help an adult pay for new hearing aids?

  7. Peggy Eserkaln says:

    Holy macarel!
    I’m a speech therapist and I was just inspired by Jenn’s Journal to do a fun short instructional video for her!
    Check it out at http://www.educaitonalimprovisation.com .

    I’m doing another one on ‘reducing hitting through improving language’ later tonight.

    I had a BLAST making the videos- hope they help some parents!


  8. Cindy Bolhuis says:

    My 4 yr old hearing impaired son goes to the local public school for speech services. The Speech Therapist just figured out (not sure how) that we will be homeschooling. She is reporting that to her supervisor because she thinks that I need to “register”. (Michigan doesn’t require any registration for homeschooling. She doesn’t believe me.)

    Am I going to have trouble getting my son the speech services that he needs? Can the IEP team “deny” my homeschooling? I’m so stressed over this right now I can hardly function. Should I be getting a lawyer already so that I can fight with the school sytstem?

    Other than this issue, I really like our speech therapist. I think she is doing a great job & we have noticed big improvements in my son’s speech.

    Melissa – or anyone else – do you have any suggestions?

  9. Peggy says:

    I am a speech therapist- and here is what I know…

    1- you boy is pre-k; which means he will remain eligible for services under the umbrella of early childhood services for at least this school year… and possibly even the next year if his birthday is after September 1st. (If he turns 5 after Sept. 1st he will still remain eligible for speech therapy for the 2007-2008 school calendar b/c he wouldn’t be eligible to enroll in Kdg anyway).

    As for services once he is of school age… it may be legal for the public schools to deny him services if you choose to remove him from the public school setting (similiar to homeschool students often being ‘denied’ participation in sports, etc. that are funded and sourced by the public schools).

    I MAY BE WRONG… but I don’t think I am.

    I am an advocate of all types of education choices; public, private, home, unschooling… underwater classrooms… to each his own and more power to each and everyones personal choice.

    Can I offer some encouragement??? Yes, I am a speech therapist, and yes, I did have to get my masters degree to practice my craft- but honestly- it doesn’t take a masters degree to DO speech therapy; escpecially if you tap the resources on the internet and those around you.

    I guess I’m saying this b/c I think you can breathe a bit easier. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you have the gumption and commitment to homeschool; you can do home speech therapy as well. It’s not rocket science- it’s an investment of learning and trial and error for some things- but truly I believe you as a parent with a few pointers and supporters – can learn and administer speech therapy techniques to your child successfully the same way you’ll teach math, science, social studies successfully.

    I’m more than willing to provide tips and support to you as you wade through this portion of you family’s growth.

    Good Luck!

  10. Cindy Bolhuis says:

    Peggy – you totally ROCK!

    I sent you an e-mail as a follow-up. 🙂

    ~ Cindy