Sometimes, traditional minimal pairs just DOESN’T cut it. And the moans and groans that you hear coming from your kids when you pull out those cards sound like a constipated wombat. Well, at least they do to me. They might be more like a constipated moose where you’re from. Anyway, while my house totally lacks organisation, my speech room is different – in fact I usually get questions such as ‘Wow! You must be so organised at home’. Nope. I have a dump and run and then ask ‘honey, have you seen my…’ kinda method going on. It surprisingly works.
So, this is how I get Phonology organised: I look at all my minimal pairs and try to choose at least one fun, functional, meaningful activity or game that contains the minimal pair that the can’t say. It has to be something interesting, something motivating so that they WANT to say their word right to get a go.
Kids, I found, have high levels of FOMO. Prey on that.
F-B: face-base, feet-beet. These are great words that you can do a lot with. We do a lot of crafts putting or drawing things on a face and this works particularly well for Mr Potato Head. In terms of feet it’s a great idea to have pictures or grab one of those books that have mismatched feet and you have to match them to the right owner – or we draw really silly feet on animals. I always have the error card with me (base/beet) so that if my student says “I want to put the eyes on the base” – I can give them the picture card of the base and act all confused about how are they going to do that? I though that eyes went on the face.
S-D: sign-dine. I bet every therapy room contains transportation toys that have traffic/road signs (train sets, car sets) and my kids love building their own mini village. You always want to be thinking of different ways to bombard the child with the core words: look at all the signs I have. I have train signs, traffic signs, stop signs, give way signs. What sign do you want first? The train sign or the stop sign? Think about the child following your directions and then giving direction for where to put them. I also like to use train/transport apps and see who can spot signs and carryover homework can be done in the car with parents.
SH-D: show-dough.I love making little sensory bags full of all wonderful little trinkets and toys and the child has to ask something like ‘show me what’s in your bag’. We might also play an “I Spy” type game either around the room or with cards and try to trick the other person “can you show me something in my room that is hot”. Good for sleuthing. Just make sure that you have a card of (play) dough, not the real thing otherwise they probably do mean ‘dough’!
CH-T: chalk-talk, chop-top. Entice your student’s with a big box of chalk and ask them if they want some chalk or to talk – FYI, these guys really don’t want to talk! In terms of chopping, kids love two things very dearly: play dough and cooking. Chop up play dough into little bits, grab one of those fun food sets that have velcro bits or think of using apps such as Toca Kitchen Monsters and choose to ‘chop’ all of your food up.
As with all of these activities, resiliency plays a part. Some kids can persevere if they get their word wrong and really try to fix it, other times you get the water works. If this is the case, I let them be the teacher or work more on auditory discrimination so that we can still play with the activities. If you are lacking minimal pairs, then grab my Stopping Bingo Boards and Minimal Pairs (featured in the pictures) or just draw your own cards. All I do is scour the minimal pairs and think “do I have something in my cupboard that involves my target sound?”. And if you want to be organised in your speech room, you will make a list and laminate it along with your minimal pairs so that you have a set of Stopping activities at your finger tips!