Articulation Therapy: The “S” Sound
Speech 5 min read

Articulation Therapy: The “S” Sound

As a speech pathologist that works with little kids all of the time, one of the biggest sounds that I work with is the “S” sound.

To produce a clear /s/ sound the tongue is raised high in the mouth to almost touch the alveolar ridge, the roof of the mouth. This action by the tongue should create a groove in the center of the tongue through which the air stream flows. Because the tongue constricts the space through which the breath stream travels, the /s/ sound should have a faint hissing quality to it.

 If your child is having a difficult time reaching this position, you can stick some peanut butter or marshmallow behind the teeth so that your child can raise their tongue to hit the spot where the sound is created!

To produce a clear /s/ sound the tongue is raised high in the mouth to almost touch the alveolar ridge, the roof of the mouth.

When working on this sound, I print out a picture of Sammy the Snake. It’s a very simple picture that isn’t distracting for young children. If you don’t like this picture, you can easily google “plain snakes” and a multitude of pictures will come up that you can use. 

As your child traces the snake’s body, give them the /s/ sound to produce. In order to produce any sound in conversation, they have to be able to say it in isolation, or by itself. 

You can also read a list of words that have the letter “s” in it. When your child hears the sound produced correctly, they can hold up the snake! This is a great activity because it will teach your child discrimination skills for when they are producing the sound independently. 

Where to find some words? You will find hundreds more on Word Vault Essential where you can take data and play the words aloud. This is great to use right now while access to speech pathologists is restricted due to the pandemic. You’ll be able to determine if your child has gained progress and if you can move on to the syllable level of production.

Syllable Level

Once the child is stimulable for the /s/ sound, have them use it continually for many seconds at a time. You can add vowel sounds such as, /a,e,i,o,u/. For example, have your child say “sa, sa, sa” as they trace the body of the snake. 

Have them hold the sound as they trace their finger all the way down Sammy the Snake’s body.

You can also do something reinforcing while they say the sound, like blowing one bubble at a time. When the bubble pops, the child can stop saying the sound.

Word Level

The “s” sound is a great sound to work on because it’s so accessible in the English language. One of my favorite activities I do with any articulation sound is a sensory bin. You can even use a cardboard box for this activity if you don’t have a plastic bin at home. Fill it with rice or noodles and place small toys inside of it that correspond to the letter you are working towards. You can find these small toys at the dollar store. As your child pulls out the toy, have them repeat it three times to make sure they are producing the sound correctly. 

Show Visual and Audio Cues with the Help of Speech Blubs 

Speech Blubs App has multiple activities that you can use to target specific speech sounds. The games are fun and highly engagable so your child won’t even realize that they are working on speech sounds!

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Parents work on speech skills with their children using the learning app

To practice making the S consonant here is the list of sections and words in them that you can practice with your child:

  • Wild Animals: Seal, Skunk, Horse, Mouse, Fish.
  • Petting ZOO: Fish, Sheep, Horse, Skunk, Mouse.
  • Outdoor Wonders: Grass, Ice, Seed, Summer, Storm, Spring, Sun.
  • Living Colors: Silver. 
  • Yummy Time: Soup, Rice, Pizza, Cheese. 
  • Toy Box: Swing, Tricycle, Slide, Puppets, Dice.
  • When I grow up: Dancer, Policeman, Astronaut.
  • We are Family: Sister.
  • Get into Shapes: Square, Circle, Cross, Star.
  • Numbers and me: Six, Seven, Sixteen, Seventeen. 
  • School Rocks: Eraser, Bus, School, Desk. 
  • This is my Body: Ears, Nose, Skull, Lips, Eyes.
  • Ride your Wheels: Motorcycle, Bus, Bicycle, Stop.
  • Dinorawrs: Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Plesiosaurus, Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Apatosaurus.
  • Universe: Astronaut, Sun, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Galaxy. 

How To Play Articulation Bingo?

  1. Use the button below to download our Articulation Bingo Board
  2. Print out the board and give it to your child or cut out the pictures and put them into a bag
  3. Let your child pick a word from the board / bag 
  4. Find the word in Speech Blubs App and practice it, play with fun filters and watch educational videos
  5. Your child is a winner when he practices three pictures in a row (across, down, or horizontally) or the entire board

Phrases/Sentences

I typically play “word sandwich” once my kids get to this level. You can use play pieces of bread or just two brightly covered pieces of paper. Inside the “bread,” put pictures of objects that have “s.” Have your child say the sentence, “Today, I’m making a _____ sandwich.” 
Another activity you can do is print out a picture of Superman and Superwoman. Have your child walk around your house or outside and say things like, “Superman is sitting on the _____.” If you can find objects that have the “s” sound in them, like the sink, that’s even better! Sticking with the superhero theme, you can make diagrams about what superheroes do … they save people, they soar through the sky, they have secret identities.

If your child has difficulties with other sounds, here are the articles that can help you with speech therapy and articulation activities ideas:

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