How To Integrate Speech Sound Targets Into A Child’s Classroom Routine

How To Integrate Speech Sound Targets Into A Child’s Classroom Routine

Children can often say the speech sound they have been working on in therapy sessions, or during one-to-one sessions on speech and language therapy targets with an adult. However, it can be hard to transfer these skills to their talking in other situations in the classroom or at home. Integrating speech and language therapy targets into the child’s daily routine will help them use the speech sound they are working on in more situations.

First, it’s useful to understand the typical development of the acquisition of speech sounds, and some common difficulties.

Development of Speech Sounds

Developmental charts vary, and do not always agree. Shriberg (1993) divided sounds into Early 8, Middle 8 and Late 8, avoiding specific ages but grouping sounds in developmental order:

Early-8 m n y b w d p h
Middle-8 t ng k g f v ch j
Late-8 sh sure (as in treasure) l r s z th (voiced and unvoiced) and clusters

Substituting and omitting speech sounds

Typical difficulties children can have include:


This is when the child says a speech sound that is made further forward in the mouth than the speech sound that they want to say. For example, a common difficulty is saying the speech sound t instead of the speech sound k in words. The speech sound t is made at the front of the mouth by raising your tongue and putting it behind your top teeth. The speech sound k is made by raising the tongue at the back of the mouth. Common substitutions are saying ‘t’ instead of ‘k’ in words (tea for key), ‘d’ for ‘s’ (door for saw), and ‘p’ for ‘f’ (pear instead of fair).


This is when the child says short speech sounds instead of long speech sounds in words. Examples of long speech sounds are s, f, v, sh. The short speech sound d is often said instead of the long speech sound s in words, e.g. dun instead of sun, bud instead of bus. The short speech sound p is often said instead of the long speech sound f, e.g. pour instead of four, woop instead of woof


This is when the child says noisy speech sounds (voiced speech sounds) instead of quiet speech sounds (unvoiced speech sounds) in words. For example, the noisy speech sound b can be said instead of the quiet speech sound p, e.g. bear instead of pear. The noisy speech sound v can be said instead of the quiet speech sound f, e.g. very instead of ferry.

Omitting speech sounds

For example, leaving off the final speech sound, saying ‘boo’ for ‘book,’ ‘pi’ for ‘pig.’

How Speech and Language Therapy Can Help With Speech Sound Difficulties

In Speech and Language Therapy, therapists help children to:

  • Recognise the difference between the speech sounds they say and the speech sounds they want to say. This is important to help them correct the substitutions that they make in their talking.
  • Use the speech sound in short words, longer words, phrases, sentences and in conversation and longer speaking tasks to help them start to use the speech sound correctly in their everyday talking.

Case Study

How to integrate speech soundsFynn had speech and language therapy support for stopping and fronting – he said d instead of s in words and he said t instead of k and d instead of g. He was able to use s in words quite quickly across lots of different settings, e.g. in one to one therapy, at home, in the classroom. However, he found it much harder to say the speech sound k in words. It was a deeply entrenched habit to say t, and this was hard to break.

In one to one situations, Fynn was able to say the speech sound k when he had support, e.g. reminding him of his goal before he did tasks using cued articulation (a physical sign for the speech sound,devised by Jane Passy). He was able to say ‘k’ at the beginning of words (carrot), in the middle (packing), at the end of words (book), in short words (cow), in long words (caravan), and in phrases and sentences.

However, in other settings, such as the classroom and at home, Fynn said the speech sound t in place of k.

What we did:

The teacher and I thought about times of the school day that she would be able to support Fynn to say the speech sound k in words correctly on a regular basis. Together we set the following goal:


Fynn will be able to say the speech sound k at the beginning, end and in the middle of words accurately when he is reading and talking about his reading book in a one to one situation in the classroom at least three times a week with adult support.

What the teacher needs to do to help Fynn achieve this goal:

  • Tell Fynn that you are listening for the k sound in words and want him to try really hard to say it because he can say it so brilliantly. Try using a plastic grapheme or picture that you use in letters and sounds for k as a visual prompt to say a word again with a k if he says t the first time, e.g. if he says tow instead of cow, show him the letter or picture and say something like, “It’s got this sound in it! Try again!”
  • Underline all the c/k sounds in words with him to raise his awareness of them before he reads.
  • Make a list of the words with k in each book so you can keep a record of the ones that he says spontaneously, the ones that he needs a prompt to say correctly and ones that he finds difficult. This will help you record outcomes for this goal.

Five Ideas To Integrate Speech Sound Targets Into A Child’s Classroom Routine

1. Make An Outcome Measurement Sheet

Think of a time that you can work on a word, e.g. numeracy sessions would be a good time to work on four, PSHE might be a good time to work on the word like. Set a goal, e.g. X will be able to say four accurately in numeracy lessons when: 

  • He uses a number line
  • He says a sum to his partner or to the class
  • He says the answer to sums that equal four or have a four in them, e.g. 24.
  • He counts

Make an outcome measurement sheet so you can record progress. For example:

Date Using a number line Saying a sum Saying the answer to a sum Counting
1. 4.9.2015


He said 4 three times with support. He said 4 in two answers.








This lets you see how often he is using the speech sound accurately and how much support you have to give.

2. Use Visual Cues

  • Remind the child of their target before the task, e.g. to say 4 when they count, say the answer to a sum, etc.
  • Use cued articulation ( to show the child when they need to try again, e.g. if they say “Pour” instead of four, sign f to show that they need to say it again
  • Use the mnemonic that you use in phonics lessons to let the child know they need to say it again, e.g. move hand like a fish.
  • Show the child the letter or a picture that represents the sound depending on their age and difficulties. (The Nuffield Centre Dyspraxia Programme has pictures to represent the sounds, e.g. a firework for f).

3. Use A Sticker Chart For A Specific Group of Words

Work on words that you use often in the classroom and that contain the sound that the child is working on, e.g. numbers, names of children and staff, the lunch menu, topic words, days of the week, months of the year, etc. Don’t work on too many at once and send home the words so that the family can help the child say them accurately. Make a list of the words you are focusing on, and make sure the child knows that is his list. Use it like a sticker chart, rewarding accurate use of the sound in the child’s words so he can feel success and be motivated to keep trying.

4. Incorporate Target Speech Sounds Into Songs and Rhymes

Pick songs and rhymes that contain the sound the child is working on. For example, if they are working on saying s in words: Incy Wincy spider; The wheels on the bus, etc.

5. Aim for Accuracy When Reading Aloud

When the child reads in a one to one setting or aloud in the classroom, aim for accuracy of their sound in words. Remind them of the goal before they read, if they need extra support underline the words that contain the sound with them to give visual support and help them remember their target.

6. Use Games To Incorporate The Speech Sound

Play games that focus on the speech sound in a discrete way so that the child can play them with his peers, e.g. the resource Playing Games With S contains lots of familiar games and words that contain the speech sound s (published by STASS).

If you would like to know more about how I can help with speech therapy and supporting children in the classroom, please get in touch.


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