STOP using Articulation Cards & START using Play!

Stop using articulation cards
Would you rather…

A  three-year-old who cannot sit still long enough for you to take the elastic band off your articulation cards


an eight-year-old who has been in therapy forEVERRR and knows your toy cupboard and iPad better than you do?

I have one solution for you. PLAY. And not just free play, but play with purpose.

Just think about how different a therapy session could look like if you weaved modeling and drills into play, if you bombarded your kids with their target sounds with zest and humor. If they were able to move from words to phrases to sentences all without fully realizing that they were doing ‘speech work’ because gosh darnit they were having too much fun!!! It sounds appealing, right? And the key ingredient, the core principle that makes play successful is motivation.


Think about it for a second. Motivation is the reason that you buy that new toy or game. But then think how quickly that can fade for your older kids or not be engaging for your younger kids. Play is natural. Play comes easy to kids. So here is what you can do:

Get a list of words that feature your target sound: this saves you from scratching your head about what to do today. If you have your list, all you have to do is quickly scan it and choose some words. It can be as easy as searching the internet for words that start with ‘s’ and looking through your own articulation resources – I can’t go past the website Home Speech Home and the Webber Jumbo Articulation Drill Book.

Think creatively: how could you incorporate that word into play? Do you have a toy that features that sound? Is there an action or verb that could be fun to do and gets maximum reps? Does that child have any friends or family members with that name and then that name becomes the therapy focus? Could you get your your craft on with a bunch of these targeted words and create sound loaded awesomeness? And look, you don’t HAVE to pre-plan this. Once you have that word, therapy can just… happen. I know a bunch of SLPs have been getting into little trinkets from The Speech Tree  (who already has the sounds sorted for you)  and having a blast in therapy with a great play-based approach. But I’m sure you have your own toys, so you can easily create little sound boxes yourself.Add language with articulation goals

Match the right level to the right kid: If you’re at the word level, choose something exciting enough that can be drilled in sets of 10 (this is where choosing a verb or adjective is great!). If you’re working at the sentence level, I love incorporating challenges using that word (I typically pick nouns or a few verbs). Get your student to direct these challenges and be in charge so that they can use the language. Try these FREE handouts (for ‘l’ and ‘r’) from my Articulation in Play resource which are broken down into verbs, nouns and adjectives. It’s easy to adapt in therapy and great carryover for parents to do at home.

Send things home for parents. Until I had children of my own, I didn’t fully understand how BUSY life is. So it changed my whole perspective on giving homework and finding the right thing to give to parents. Talk to your parents, find out if they want structured homework or more play ideas. See what works for them. Sending home ideas and activities for parents that DON’T TAKE AWAY from their time is priceless. It’s the holy grail of carryover for parents. They’ll be thinking ‘you mean all I have to do is get my kid to tell everyone where to sit and that is them practicing their ‘s’ sound… um… yeah!’. Friendly little fridge reminders are a great way to achieve this. I’m always sending my kids home with a set from Monae’s Speech House and then giving them an everyday list that is easy to integrate into day to day routines.

Set challenges. And use the word ‘challenge’ (that ties in with the motivation). You can easily adapt the Peachie Speechie’s 100 Articulation Trials for this purpose. I’m thinking things like ‘do you think you can find 5 things in the supermarket that start with ‘s’ and things like that. I included a cute ‘I spy’ style list of words for when kids are out and about with their family in Articulation in Play. It’s one of those things that’s easy to tuck into a bag and whip out once you’ve spotted your target words in the environment.Carryover speech with treasure hunts

So there we have it – a different style of therapy, but boy is it fun. Your littlies will love your for it and your oldies will get a fresh buzz out of speech. I’m always sharing videos and pictures on my Instagram page @adventuresinspeechpathology so come and join me 🙂


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One Comment

  • You have a variety of ways to elicit sounds that are fun.


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