Archive for August, 2010

August 29th, 2010

More Than One Road-R blends in Sentences

I was reminded this weekend that there’s always more than one road to get to where you want to be.  We thought we were driving several young ladies to Seattle to catch a plane.  A very, very, very long line up at the Canada-U.S. border created much anxiety, re-thinking, many telephone calls and eventually a new plan. There was a happy ending for all with a flight from a different airport. They ended up where they wanted to go, but they took an unexpected route.

What does this have to do with speech therapy you might ask?  Everything!

Not all children will start from the same level as outlined in Ready for R. You might start as suggested, but find that R blends are easier for your child.  Your child might be able to say R correctly at the beginning of words after a few sessions, but R blends seem to take forever.  If your child isn’t keen on practising everyday for a few minutes,  you might need to try twice a week for 20 minutes.   These are all different roads to the same destination-correct R sounds.

Some children aren’t keen on sitting and looking at a book for very long.  Here’s an activity that builds on the “Romantic Romeo” page from Ready for R.

Activity: Princess and the Frog – R blends in sentences.

Materials: paper, scissors, stapler, pencil, decorations (sparkles, stickers, green triangles)

Directions for making a crown:

  1. Make a few small triangles with green paper.
  2. Cut an 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper in half.  Staple the 2 pieces together. Measure the  head and cut to size, allowing for overlap. Don’t staple the ends together yet.
  3. Draw the outline of the top of a crown across the top.  Cut along the outline.
  4. If you’ve used white paper, have your child colour the crown.  Use lots of green.
  5. Glue on the small green triangles, stickers, sparkles etc.
  6. Staple the ends together to the size you need to complete the crown.

What to do: If you have Ready for R , read the words and sentences on the Romantic Romeo page.   This is  the Princess and the Frog story.  Make 2 crowns. While you make the crowns, use sentences like: “I’m making a triangle.  The sticker’s on the crown.  It’s green.  It’s for the frog.

When you’ve made your crowns, help your child think of some sentences or make up a story about a princess and a prince.  It doesn’t have to be the traditional story as long as most sentences have blends. Write the sentences down. Put on your crowns and read the sentences or act out the story.  One of you can be the princess and one the frog.  If you have dress-ups and a stuffed frog – even better.

Here are some sample sentences to get you started:

  • One day a princess was in a castle.
  • She sat on a throne.
  • An ugly frog came in.
  • She was frightened.
  • She screamed at him.
  • He was a prince.

Who wouldn’t love to practice  R while pretending to be a frog prince?  Don’t forget to make him croak.

August 22nd, 2010

R Blends Anyone?

R Blends in words

Is your child pronouncing R at the beginning of words now with no trouble?  Is speech practice going great?  Has your child made tremendous progress? If you’ve been working on words and sentences with R at the beginning, for example; ready, roll, raccoon, it might be time to move on to the next level.  If he can say words and sentences correctly about 8 out of 10 times,  then you’re ready for the next step.

Next in order of difficulty are R blends or clusters at the beginning of words.  Blends (clusters) are 2 or 3 consonants together.  Words with R blends might include; truck, three, shrink, free, grow.

It’s important to remember you’re not expecting the child to say these sounds in sentences yet.  Your child is still at the one word level for blends. You’re going to go through the same steps as R at the beginning of words. That means you can expect him to say “brick”, but not yet, “I see a brick”.  It’s much harder to remember to say a sound correctly in a sentence.

You’ll notice that in Ready for R the blends are in the blue section on the word list and in the poem on each page.  You’ll be able to go through the word lists and have your child read or repeat after you the R blend words.  Look at each picture and name all the items that have R blends.  Don’t forget to look closely at the pictures.  There are many more words to be found than just those in the word list.  Some words are repeated in the pictures on many pages.  Look for tree, grass, green and three, to name a few.

Review the teaching tips outlined in previous blogs if you need to. The same techniques apply to learning R blends. If you don’t have the book, make your own pictures or have your child draw them. Even I can draw a tree, make 3 lines or colour a green spot.  You want lots of chances to practise, so make not just 1, but 10 trees.  Make a cherry tree, a banana tree, an apple tree, etc.  As your child draws the fruit, say the word “tree.”  Help him by saying, “It’s a cherry ___”.  Let the child fill in the blank.

As you make your way through blends, don’t be surprised if some are easier to say than others. If your child can’t say “shr” words, for example, don’t keep modelling it.  Focus on the other blends and try “shr” at a later date.  If you don’t have Ready for R, any dictionary will help you find more R blend words.   Here are the blends you should think about teaching:


br bread, brake
cr cry, crown
dr drive, drip
fr friend, fry
gr grape, grab
pr pretty, prowl
shr shred, shrug
str string, straw
thr through, thread
tr try, trouble


Teaching Tip: Thinking of names is a fun way to talk about speech sounds.  There are lots of names that begin with R blends. Examples; Brian, Brenda, Freddy, Freda, Troy, Tracey.  Have fun with  names by adding unusual ones such as Brunehilda or Prunella.

Activity:  Print R blend names on pieces of paper or recipe cards. You read the names first, modelling correct sounds.  Ask the child to repeat after you.  Next, turn to the “Wrestling Rhinos” page in Ready for R. Look at all the animals in the crowd.  The child can decide which animal matches the name on the card. Prompt the answer with the phrase,  “This one is ____”.

Alternately, find a picture book containing lots of different animals. Complete the activity the same way as described above.

Worksheet: More activities are included on this worksheet:

August 15th, 2010

Honourable Mention from CASLPA

I’m thrilled to announce that Communication Central has received the distinction of honourable mention in the website/blog category of the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) May Month Multimedia Contest.  May is the month when we focus on educating the public about communication disorders  in Canada and the United States.

CASLPA is an association of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and assistive personnel from across Canada.  It’s a great compliment to be chosen from among my peers.  With a few paid staff and many volunteers, CASLPA is dedicated to supporting, promoting and advocating for  the work we do with persons who have communication disorders.

My thanks go to the creative minds and talents who helped conceive and sustain Communication Central from it’s birth in June of this year.  Silvana, Cameron and Janine this honour is for you.

My congratulations go to the other contestants. Have a look at what they have done to shed light on communication disorders:

August 8th, 2010

R in the Car

R at the Beginning of Words-Part 4-Sentences

Summer is definitely here and many families take a break from home schooling, piano lessons and speech therapy.  More time to relax as a family is a good thing.  If you’re taking time off from working on R, don’t worry about backsliding.  When you start up again, your child will only need a little brush up to remember all those words you practised.

Other families find it easier to focus on speech when they have time off from work.  In the summer, speech therapy time isn’t competing with homework and after school activities. If you’re still working on R this summer, here are some ideas to bring on vacation with you:


R in the Car. I don’t know about you, but on long car rides with my family, one adult was the designated driver and the other was the navigator and chief entertainer.  We were desperate to keep all 4 kids happy so they wouldn’t start fighting, screaming or whining.  Each child had a small bag filled with drawing materials, colouring books, cards and small games to play in the car. Mad Libs was a favourite activity.  It was still enjoyed by my family on a long weekend car trip this summer.  Even grandma enjoyed it.  These small, soft covered books are filled with short stories.  Written in large print, they have blanks to be filled in with a noun, verb, adjective or adverb.  For example, “It was a (adjective) and (adjective) evening when the (noun) escaped from the barn.”  The listeners don’t know what the story is.  They’re asked to say any noun, verb, adjective, adverb and the writer fills in the story. When the story is read out loud, the results are hilarious.  Why not make a rule that all the words have to begin with R? If you haven’t seen these at your local store, you can find them online.

Rapping Down the Road. I don’t know that we ever rapped while driving, but I’m sure we sang every other kind of song – okay, not opera.  When you’re desperate, sometimes music soothes the savage breast.  This is a tricky one, because, after the 20th repetition, you might feel like screaming.  These are a few songs with words that have R at the beginning.  Don’t worry about correcting the R blends (e.g. stream) or R after a vowel (e.g. merrily).  You’re still just working on R at the beginning of words.

  • Row, Row, Row your Boat.
  • Singing in the Rain.
  • Old MacDonald had a farm. (This farmer had a ram, rooster, raccoon, and a rat.)
  • Rubber Duckie.
  • Somewhere over the Rainbow.
  • It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.

More Game Ideas. Here are some links for more speech therapy games, if you’re running out of ideas: