I made these Cluster Reduction sequencing supports after seeing the frustration and hearing the ‘I just can’t do it!’ from a 9 year-old client who really should have eliminated the process of cluster reduction by now.
He was sick of minimal pairs but had great auditory discrimination. He just couldn’t put that ‘s’ sound in – or if he did, he would omit the second sound in the cluster. ‘Stick’ was either ‘sick’ or ‘tick’ and we were getting nowhere, revisiting this goal on and off for while.
I found that as soon as I isolated the cluster and applied the concept of imagery therapy (using a visual representation of a sound – a snake for ‘s’), it made sense and he could ‘see’ what he had to say to use clusters. By the end of that session he could rattle off ‘s-tar, star, ‘s-tick, stick’ fast and smooth.
This is great to put on your iPad, but we also cut into strips and fold the S-Blend over – my kids have to correctly blend the S+tick and tell me the new word they’ve made (stick) to flip it over. And by having the minimal pairs on the page, it really helps the child if they end up reducing the cluster.
Download from my TPT store, there is a color and black & white version so you can have some laminated versions for you and send the others for homework!
If this concept might not work for your students but you want equally BOLD and BRIGHT minimal pairs have a look at my Teach Phonology Cluster Reduction Story for a more metalinguistic approach. It basically uses a story form to introduce the concept of cluster reduction in a way that your younger students might find easier to understand.