Blends Speech Therapy

I have my best blends speech therapy tips for you! 

Treating blends can seem daunting but it doesn't have to be! All you need are the right materials and guidance on when to use them!

blends speech therapy

Blends Speech Therapy

For a quick review, blends/consonant clusters are when 2 or 3 consonants are next to each other. 

  • str
  • skw
  • spl
  • spr
  • skl
  • shr
  • thr
  • sw
  • sm
  • sn
  • sl
  • sp
  • pr
  • br
  • dr
  • fr
  • gr
  • tr
  • kr
  • sl
  • fl
  • bl
  • gl
  • kl
  • pl
  • kw
  • tw

Types of Errors

Cluster Reduction

Cluster reduction is a phonological process where a child reduces a consonant cluster to one consonant. It usually resolves by 4 years of age (if the cluster doesn't have /s/) and 5 years of age (if cluster has /s/).

Distortion

Some children have trouble saying one, two, or three of the sounds in the consonant cluster.

Please refer to this page for more information on when children should develop each sound. 

Blends Speech Therapy Treatment

Treating blends/consonant clusters can be difficult! However, with the "newer" complexity approach, it is becoming more common.

Cues/Anatomy Overview

No matter what, I always start with direct teaching, goal overview, and anatomy review. I make sure the child know why they are working! To accomplish this, I use the materials below.

Visual Cue Cards/Syllable Level Warm Up

With my visual cue cards, I review:

  • what the articulators have to do to say each sound
  • the letter/phoneme for each sound
  • how the sound "sounds"
blends speech therapy


Next, I use the card above for syllable warm up. The visual cues help the child move from one sound to the other. 

If you are stuck at this level, please see the tips below or click here to read them now

Minimal Pairs

Minimal Pairs can be very effective for children with cluster reduction. 

When working on minimal pairs, you have 3 options:

  • Say word pair (both words) and then have the child repeat - hardest option
  • Say one word, have the child repeat. Say the other word, have the child repeat - easier option
  • Present the child with both pairs and have the child point to the word YOU say - easiest option and great for "training the ears."

Printable Minimal Pairs

Printable Minimal Pairs

No-Print/Flip Cards For Minimal Pairs

Drill Practice

To make a new motor habit, we need a lot of practice!  Drill will look different for different children.

Some can just get the work done and we will fly through a deck!

blends speech therapy
blends speech therapy

Some may need a little motivation! So a quick game or visual trial counter will usually do the trick.

blends speech therapy

Some may need a lot of motivation. Some of my favorite ideas for those students are:

  • say 2-10 words to get a piece of a toy
  • say a word and then jump up and down
  • say word before throwing a ball or hitting a balloon
  • you get the idea....!

Natural Practice

Natural practice is essential for generalization. We should all be planning for generalization/dismal from the first session.

Ideally, I like to play games with blends already built in:

  • SPIN - any game that a spinner
  • THROW - ball throwing game
  • STOP - use stop when playing with cars
  • BREAK - don't Break The Ice game
  • TRAIN - build/play with trains
  • GLUE - ask for glue while making a craft
  • you get the idea!

Sometimes you can't always build blends into p ay so you can say flashcards before taking a turn.

These digital flashcards are a non-invasive/no-prep way to do that.

blends speech therapy
blends speech therapy

Tips On Eliciting Clusters

In my practice, not all speech therapy blends are created equal! For example, working on R and L blends is much harder than S blends.

S-Blend Tips:

  • If the child is dropping the /s/, I will say the /s/ longer and have the child say it with me. I will then use the cue cards to transition to the next consonant and be careful not to break "voicing" or "airflow."
  • I like to go slow at first so the child can FEEL how to add the two consonants together.
  • Once we get a few correct productions, I pick up the speed 🙂

R& L Blend Tips:

  • I like to start with KR and GR since the back placement of /k/ and /g/ help to facilitate the /r/. They are the easiest blends for me!
  • I DON'T like to go slow when teaching R and L-Blends since children then tend to add the schwa in between sounds.
  • Instead, I use sound cue cards OR prolong the /r/ or /l/ ONLY if a child needs more practice with that sound. This would be for children with sound errors/distortion rather than cluster reduction.
blends speech therapy
blends speech therapy

Want To Grab These Materials?

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You can read more about it here: Speech Therapy Talk Membership

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