Are you stuck in articulation ‘isolation limbo?’

Articulation in Isolation
The agony. The agony of trying to elicit a sound in isolation for a child and they just didn’t get it.

Or it is in that inconsistent phase for aaaaages where they can’t quite master the sound in syllables or words, so you’re stuck in isolation limbo? Yes, we have all been there. My first step is to search for every single elicitation technique that I can find and just run through them all with fingers crossed behind behind my back. I wrote a post earlier about all the different elicitation methods, because sometimes you never know which one will stick! My second step is to try to get them practicing at least every day. And this is where homework comes in. I love homework because it physically ‘exists’. If you provide your student’s with a sheet of homework, then you have a chance that it will be completed.

Here are my top tips for moving past the isolation level.

  • Write down EXACTLY what you want the adult to say to the child “tell him to smile, keep his teeth together and blow air out”. And while you’re at it, get the teacher involved too. Grab these free speech sound reminders for teachers to get you started.
  • Don’t forget the power of the visual – mirrors can be great, so communicate if your kiddos need to practice in front of one. I’m also a huge fan of mouth visuals. My go-to resources at the moment are these Speech Sound Posters from Monae’s Speech House and Articulation Prompts from The SLT Scrapbook. If you need a simple, free version that is perfect to email to parents, then grab this set from Speechy Musings.
  • If it works (and you have permission), video or audio record your directions and articulation instructions. Yes, it’s a little technological, but the kid’s get a hoot out of watching you or themselves on video, and it reinforces to the parent as well. I have done this with parent’s phones if they attend sessions, record on my own and send, or sometimes if a student has a device I will save it on there.
  • Take a photo of the child with their articulators in the correct position – this can be a really helpful reference for them. And if you have apps that you can draw on the photo, even better. Circle that lip placement, draw arrows to that tongue and really talk about what they are doing that is making that sound do darn good!
  • Sometimes fun vocabulary words or sounds work (such as ‘achoo’ for ‘choo choo’ for ‘ch’). Puppets always work a treat if they can represent the sound that you are targeting (e.g. use your tiger growl for ‘r’ or show me your rabbit teeth for ‘f’).
  • Think vowels and think the syllable level. ‘Oo’ has similar lips and tongue position to ‘sh’, so maybe trying ‘oosh’, ‘shoo’ or ‘ooshoo’ is the step that they need.
  • Get interactive and crafty! You’re going to grab those pencils, crayons, paint dabbers and markers. Find those glitter pens, stamps and watercolour pencils and you’re going to practice!

Now… onto homework! The tough part, right? Now as a speech fan, I may have gone a little overboard when I put Articulation Sounds in Isolation together. But you see, I’ve worked with those kids, and we all need to be on the same team practicing. And yeah, sure, it is technically aimed at the isolation level, but all you have to do is scrawl some syllables (like ‘oo’ on the /sh/ worksheet) or words on the page, make your student’s say a sentence and you can move up that hierarchy in a print & go format. The statistics are simple: ALL 21 speech sounds. 10 worksheets for each sound. 208 individual and different worksheets. Fitting 2 sheets to a page (I like to save paper ;). Because even though you mainly dabble with ‘s’, ‘k’, ‘r’ and ‘l’… you WILL have that child who can’t say ‘n’, ‘p’ or ‘t’ and then what are you going to do? I’ll tell you what you’re going to do.

I love to give free versions of my resources as a thank you for your support – I know not everyone has the budget to buy things, so enjoy a free download of 5 pages/10 worksheets for sounds that you probably work with all of the time: f-s-k-r-j.


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