The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that between 8 to 9 per cent of young children have some form of speech sound disorder, the majority of which have no known cause. Boys tend to have a greater rate of speech impairment than girls. Speech therapy for preschool-aged children mostly focuses on play-based activities, teaching language through modelling, interaction and games.
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Make a train (or use an existing toy train), decorating each wagon with a flashcard, suggests Speech Teach UK. Each flashcard depicts a letter, picture or sound combination, for example "sh" and "oo." Ask preschoolers to practice making the sounds of the train as the wagons ride by ("sh-oo-sh-oo-sh-oo"). This activity can be customised so the particular train sounds depend on the sound combinations or words the child is currently working on in speech therapy.
Odd One Out
This activity suggested by Speech Teach UK is designed to encourage children to use language descriptively. Ask children to look at groups of three or four objects and decide which is the odd one out. In the initial versions of the game, there are no right answers. The sole purpose is to elicit language by encouraging children to explain their reasoning. As children become more proficient and comfortable with language, make the activity more difficult by incorporating rhyming words into the groups of objects for example cat, rat, bat and dog.
Place six pieces of paper, representing lily pads, on the floor. Place a box or flash card holder by the final lily pad. Children take a flash card depicting a letter, word or picture as they pretend to be a frog and jump from lily pad to lily pad. Each time the children jump, they must repeat the word on the card. When they reach the final lily pad, there is a "juicy fly" (a raisin, or just pretend) for the frog to eat. This activity is designed as a way to encourage word repetition, helping teach correct sound production.
Songs and Sign Language
Teach basic sign language while working on pronunciation by helping children to learn signs accompanying popular children's songs, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." As children practice the song, they learn that certain signs correspond to certain words. Children may use these signs to aid communication in their everyday lives. The act of singing also encourages oral development.
Children can play this game to encourage articulation and increase vocabulary. Create a game board with a path comprising pictures or words, a picture of "home" and a picture of "school." All players start at the home picture and roll the dice to move along the path to school. As the students land on a picture, say, "On my way to school I saw a ..." and have the student finish the sentence by naming the item, object or animal shown in the picture. The winner is the first person to arrive at the school.
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