When your articulation students are in elementary school, they love any kind of game: Candyland, Shoots & Ladders, Pop the Pig. One time I even made a phonology game with tongue depressors, a permanent marker, & a plastic cup! Yet middle & high school students working on articulation & phonological goals are more difficult to engage. It can be hard to come up with activities that these students find exciting and that match their newfound sense of maturity and independence. So without further ado, here are my best ideas and resources for articulation activities for teens/tweens.
- Articulation Battleship: students generally enjoy the game battleship; the only difference with these type of games is that they either have to say the location as two word coordinates (e.g. they might say “read rest” instead of B1 to target a spot on the other’s board) or they can state the “coordinate” as the word in that square instead (e.g. “read” if that is the word in the B1 square). This game is really easy to make on google docs or google sheets, but there are also some awesome /s/-word and /r/-word battleship games at Peachy Speechie . These are also some games you can use that I made myself (which again are very easy to modify…. just delete the words and replace them with your own!). This game is great for students at the word-level and who still need mild-moderate prompting for correct productions.
- Artic-loaded paragraphs: These are paragraphs loaded with the target sound of your choice. I adore these free paragraphs from home speech home; I usually just print them or have the student read on an IPAD. While not thrilling, students like this no-frills approach to articulation and getting to read a somewhat silly story. I pause students and have them reattempt certain words and then entire sentences to master all the sounds. It’s a really great way to monitor and work on their carryover; students who do fine coming up with sentences with their sound will often struggle to articulate every single word with their sound in the paragraph context.
- Headbandz & Don’t Say It/Taboo: This is a good activity for students at the sentence level and who are entering the carryover phase. I often interrupt students to have them self-correct productions of their sound in their descriptions. I can also specifically select words with their target sound and have the student who is guessing the word say it & then use it in a spontaneous sentence. Typically, I play Don’t Say It & Taboo much like I play modified Headbandz: I simply have students describe the word using clues. I find that playing both games the “right way” adds unneeded cognitive complexity for students who really just need to focus on their target sound (s).
- Mad Libs: Make or find a target sound word list & categorize each word by part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb). Then have students use this list to complete & read the Mad Libs! The resulting story is funny and they get a lot of practice with their target sound or sounds in sentences. In case you don’t have a booklet of Mad Libs, I like this online version for IPAD. Here is one parts of speech word list I already made (free!): s-words by initial, medial, and final consonant. Keep an eye out for my r-words list for Mad Libs- that’s coming out soon!
- Checkers- This one’s a classic that doesn’t require much explanation. Whatever articulation task they are working on, they get to take a turn at the the checkers board. It’s an engaging and intellectually complex enough game without being so complex that students can’t focus on their actual speech goals. You can either buy a set at a Goodwill or simply play it online for free here.
- Connect4- Another classic! I do the same thing with this activity as I do with checkers. Here is another free site to play online with your students if you are like me & don’t want to pay for yet another board game (or try to find space for it in your room!)
- Dominoes- Another classic, but this one is nice because the trial numbers are actually part of the game! All you have to do is make it so the student needs to add up the numbers on the domino they lay down and say the target that many times.
- Jenga & Uno- These ones are self-explanatory…… middle schoolers LOVE these games for some reason & will often request to do them.
Some tips for activities 5-8: vary up the tasks you are asking students to do. It’s not only tedious but also doesn’t help carryover if we are asking them to do the same easy task each time (“say this word & use it in a sentence”). Try having them guess your word like for Headbandz. Try having them read a sentence with the target. One of my favorite things to do is to give them two or more words & tell the student to come up with a sentence that uses both & with correct production. Considering many of our students struggle with true mastery & carryover for several years, we really need to increase the complexity of the articulation tasks we give them to match the demands of real life: we need to give students articulation tasks that get them thinking, problem-solving, & that include multiple words with the target sound in various positions just like what they would need to do in a natural conversational setting.