By: Jillian Klatt
When Mrs. O is not working with the students at the Superhero Summer Camp, she can still be found on the WonderBus doing individual speech therapy. On this particular day, Mrs. O worked with a student on his articulation using stamps! Articulation is the ability to adjust the structures of the mouth—like the tongue, lips, and teeth—into the proper shape to make a speech sound. The student has some trouble with strident sounds in continuous speech, meaning he can properly say the sounds in a word on its own, but the sound becomes a little wonky when linked in a string of words like in a sentence or in conversation. In English, strident sounds include s, z, f, v, ch and sh. Mrs. O had a whole bucket of stamps picked out to include these types of sounds in a natural play setting. As the student sorted through the stamps and chose the ones he wanted to use, Mrs. O would prompt him to practice articulating the sounds by asking him to name each stamp he used. The student had a blast making up stories about dinosaurs, snakes, fish, and beaches to go along with the pictures he had created with the stamps. Activities that allow students to use their creativity to drive the speech session produce wonderful opportunities for practice that doesn’t feel like work to the student. As we all know, practice makes perfect!
With each stamp, the student had the opportunity to articulate strident sounds in an isolated word and in continuous speech in a way that just felt like play. It was so cool to see how Mrs. O kept the student engaged in the task while also encouraging correct articulation. When the student misarticulated—or misspoke—the target sounds, Mrs. O would repeat the proper articulation back to the student and add in some gestures to cue him in to the target sound he was misarticulating. For the s in “snake” Mrs. O traced her hand down her arm to highlight the length of the s sound, and for the ch sound in “beach” Mrs. O clapped her hands together to emphasize the sharpness of the sound. Physical cues like these can help students recognize and focus on the unique qualities of the speech sounds they are working on without drawing their attention too far away from the excitement of the activity!