S-Blend Sequence Strips That Will Make Therapy Easy!

Try this cluster reduction trick

When I heard ‘I just can’t do it!’ from a nine-year-old client who should have eliminated the process of cluster reduction, my heart broke. Regardless of age, our kids can be really aware of errors, and you know as well as I know, they can shut down FAST.

I’m sure you’ve had the same problem that I found myself in. A child who was over minimal pairs, has great auditory discrimination, but who just CANNOT stick those two sounds together!

So, as any SLP will know, you start shopping around for a tip, trick, or cue that will make sense for your child. The thing that worked for this particular child was when I broke down what he had to say.


Use a snake for imagery as this can help your child remember their snake sound. While you are initially teaching this trick, say the ‘s’ sound (then slight pause) and add the rest of the word. You might like to use visuals such as “s – wing”.

Get visual with 's' blends

Once the child is able to say these, I then go on to explain that if we join these, it makes a new word! The one thing that I DON’T want to encourage is isolating that initial sound for too long. As quickly as possible, I want the “s” to turn into the next sound.

I might then work on sequencing these “s-wing, swing”. If they forget their “s” or drop out they’re “l” sound, I use the visuals once again to bring awareness to this “oops, you forgot the snake sound at the start” or “you didn’t say the ‘wing’ part in ‘swing'”.

With this one child, it made sense. He could ‘see’ what he had to do to be accurate. By the end of that session, he could rattle off “s-wing, swing, s-wipe, swipe” fast and smooth.


Give it a go! I have a free version so that you can see if this is the thing that clicks for your child. The whole set is also available for purchase and features: ‘sk’, ‘sl’, ‘sm’, ‘sn’, ‘sp’, ‘st’ and ‘sw’ words in both color and black & white – download here.


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  • THIS is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve tried CV syllables, visuals when working at the worder level, tactile strategies, and visual phonics. My 4 yr old client can sequence /sn/ in isolation but it falls apart in vowel syllables. I’m hoping this will help!! Thank you 🙂

    • Hope so too! Sometimes I start a little slow and then really work on blending all the sounds together and speeding it up once they have the ‘mechanics’ figured out. Good luck 🙂

  • Looking for free version of [S] blend trick! I read your post but the link may have expired…any chance I can still get?

    • I recently updated this entire set and have not updated the freebie yet! It’s on my big to-do list 🙂


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Hi, I'm Rebecca.
I encourage SLPs to feel more confident treating speech sound disorders, and make faster progress with their students.


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