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L Sound Articulation Therapy: Guide for Parents

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Does your child say “wake” for “lake?” How about “wook” for “look?” The /l/ sound can be a tricky thing for kids to master, and it typically doesn’t solve itself until around 6 years of age.

Due to the fact that /l/ is so difficult, it usually gets omitted (deleted) or substituted for another sound like /w/ or /y/. Luckily, there are a variety of speech therapy tips that you can do to help your little one master this sound.

When Should Your Child Say Certain Sounds?

It’s important to realize that sounds are developed at certain ages. Below is a chart that explains what sounds are developed according to your child’s chronological age. It is also important to remember that children will gain knowledge and use of these sounds in a variety of ways and at different times.

For example, a child in preschool may learn the /t/ sound faster than another child who is not in school because they are exposed to it more and have a chance to work on that sound more frequently. 

When will your child learn certain sounds?
Consonant speech sounds and your child’s age

Children may also start using the /l/ sound at around three years of age. They won’t be able to use it consistently and accurately in all positions of words until around the age of 6. 

How to Make the /L/ Sound

The /l/ sound is made by placing the tip of your tongue just behind your front teeth. That small bump or ridge behind your teeth is the place your child should aim for. In addition, the child must use their voice to produce the sound and allow the air to pass around their tongue and out through their mouth.

Imitation is the key to teaching speech sounds. A child must be able to look at the model and copy what they see. Make sure to model the sound yourself.

Be slow and emphasize the sound and placement of your tongue when modeling. The /l/ sound is one that could go on forever, you can hold it out and exaggerate it (unlike a /t/ sound which comes and goes rather quickly).

What Kind of Techniques Are Recommended?

One of my favorite ways to work on speech sounds is using a mirror. Have your child look at you and then themselves while they are attempting to produce the /l/ sound. Have them compare how you’re making the sound and how they are making the sound. When they can see what they are doing wrong, it makes it easier to correct the error.

Another way to work on speech sounds is through apps. Check out the Speech Blubs app! It has great resources where your child can imitate other kids, practice their speech sounds in a variety of different ways (colors, numbers, shapes) and it’s fun and engaging. Check out the Mouth Gyms area for activities and games!

Another way to work on the /l/ sound is to provide a tactile cue, which is a cue using touch, by taking a toothbrush, tongue depressor, Speech Buddy, or other means of showing them the correct tongue placement.

Some parents get creative with food and place a cheerio or lick of peanut butter in this spot.  The method that works best for one child isn’t always good for another, so don’t get discouraged if one idea doesn’t work.

The Sequence of /L/ Sounds

When teaching any speech sound, you want to make sure you aren’t giving them too much at one time.

For example, teaching the word ‘lollipop,’ isn’t a great place to start because they will get easily frustrated and shut down. You want to work on the sound in isolation, first, then build as your child constantly uses the tiering correctly.

For example, this is how a tiered program would look for the /l/ sound. 

  • Isolation: /l, /l/, /l/
  • Syllable: la, la, la, la
  • Word: lamb, love, lock
  • Phrase: ‘little lamb,’ ‘long laces’
  • Sentence: ‘I like to lick the long licorice.’

Of course, we know that the /l/ sound isn’t just in the beginning of words. Sometimes, children only make errors in the beginning of words and, other times, they’re in the middle (flip) or at the end (castle).

No matter where the sound is located, the process is still the same. Your child’s speech therapist will guide your child through this process and will progress as they see fit. 

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Ways to Work on the /L/ Sound

1. Lollipop Part 1

Print out a big picture of a lollipop. Have your child write specific /l/ words on their lollipop. As they write the word, have them say it. You can give tokens or rewards if they say some or many of the words correctly.

2. Lollipop Part 2

You can also print 10 lollipop pictures, put the pictures of /l/ words on the back, and have your child flip them over. This can be a fun matching game and it gives them the opportunity to say the sounds multiple times.

3. Lift the Leaves

This is a cute way to get outside AND work on therapy. Have your child collect different sized leaves outside. Obviously, this works better in the fall, but you can totally do it when the leaves start to form on the trees in spring. Have them talk about the different colors they see, what’s on the leaves, etc. You can also have them write /l/ words on the back of the leaves with sharpies!

4. Lily Pad Leap

This is another game that you can take outside once it starts getting nice out, OR you can do it in the comforts of your own living room. Print out 10 green lily pads and scatter them around an area. Have the child/children pretend they are frogs, jumping from pad to pad. Once they reach a new pad, they have to say whatever word is on it!

5. Speech Blubs App

Download the Speech Blubs app to practice making the L consonant. Here is the list of sections and words in them that you can practice with your child:

  • Wild Animals: Seal, Turtle, Elephant, Lion.
  • Petting ZOO:  Turtle.
  • Outdoor Wonders: Lake, Ball, Leaf.
  • Living Colors: Purple, Silver, Yellow, Black, Blue, Gold. 
  • Yummy Time:  Watermelon, Vegetable, Milk.
  • Toy Box:  Marbles, Tricycle, Puzzles, Slide, Locomotives, Bubbles, Balloon.
  • When I grow up: Lumberjack, Plumber, Policeman.
  • We are Family: Family, Love.
  • Get into Shapes:  Circle, Triangle, Rectangle, Oval.
  • Numbers and me: Eleven, Twelve.
  • School Rocks: Locker, Blackboard, School.
  • This is my Body: Skull, Leg.
  • Ride your Wheels:  Motorcycle. 
  • Dinorawrs: Pterodactyl, Plesiosaurus, Velociraptor, Ankylosaurus, Diplodocus.

I hope this has provided you with some insight about the /l/ sound, as well as some fun and practical strategies that you can work on at home!

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