In my experience, as Director of Ridge Zeller Therapy, as far as speech therapy articulation activities go, drill and practice is a really effective technique for improving speech production of target phonemes in words, phrases, and even sentences.
But let’s face it, it’s hard to squeeze in enough repetitions to make it work, and drills can be tedious (do I dare I say “boring?”).
To get started, I developed a list of ten target words, phrases, sentences, or whatever the child is working on.
My students and I make drill cards using words, phrases, pictures, or symbols.
If I use a picture, I always, always, always (can’t say it enough) pair it with print.
Even for children who are not yet reading, print facilitates speech improvement, phonological awareness, sound symbol relationships, etc., etc.
I believe that all speech therapy activities should be fun and engaging (no dog and pony show required), inexpensive (who has lots of money to spend on therapy materials?), easy to prepare (Rule of thumb: If it takes longer for me to make the activity than it does for the student to do the activity, it probably isn’t worth it), provide opportunities for multiple repetitions of the target (ten words, said ten times each in a row “my cup, my cup, my cup…”) include language and academic concepts (even if it’s artic only, you want bang for your buck), and get kids moving their bodies.
Here are some of my drill and practice activities that accomplish the above:
Flashlight: Hide the cards around your room and turn off the lights. Give the student a flashlight and have him search for his card. When the student finds the card, he says the word 10 times. He can look “high”, “low”, “behind the book”, “under the chair”, sneaking in some language concepts.
Bean Bags: Put the stimulus cards on the floor. The student throws the bean bag trying to hit a card. If she misses a card, I have her pick the one that’s the closest. It’s not an exact science. The student says the stimulus ten times.
Hula Hoops: Put hula hoops on the floor and put several cards in each. (I like to use about five, but you can use as many as you have room for. I have owned hula hoops, and I have borrowed them from my PE teacher).
The student hops to a hoop of your design. For example, the student picks a number from a hat. If he is working on number identification, we would practice identifying the number he chose and then hop to that many hoops.
If he’s working on one-to-one correspondence, I would make sure he jumped accordingly. If working on reading number words, I would use the word instead of the number when he drew from the hat.
If the student is working on colors (or color words), I might have them jump to a certain colored hoop. You get the idea. The student says the word ten times.
Hopscotch: This is really similar to the hula hoop and bean bag activities, but it takes a little more motor coordination because the student jumps on one foot and then two.
You remember how the game goes. Put the cards in the hopscotch squares. Toss a rock or bean bag to a square and hop, say the word ten times, etc.
Memory: I play this the classic way, but with a few enhancements. Spread your cards on the table or floor (You can see I love working on the floor).
I always put the cards in a square or rectangle pattern rather than in random order. This will be helpful later. The child turns two cards face up, removes his hands, and leaves the cards where they are. (I don’t let them turn them over and back really quickly as I have an ulterior motive.)
The child has to say, “I found a fish. I found a foot. I didn’t find a match.” Or “I touch gum. I touch goat. I didn’t get a match.” I always try to get a sentence here if I can, but it obviously depends on the student.
Here’s the part I love. When the child turns the cards facedown, he puts one finger on each of the cards he just picked.
I have them tap each card and say five times “fish, fish, fish, fish, fish; foot, foot, foot, foot, foot.” This gets in a few more repetitions and practices a memorization strategy.
To reinforce this technique, the cards have to stay in their original spot. I hope you’ll find these activities helpful and FUN!