Vocalic R For Speech Therapy

Treating the vocalic R in speech therapy can be TOUGH; however, there are ways to ease the pain. Keep reading to learn about my teaching techniques and favorite new materials

*vocalic R is when R comes after a vowel: or, ar, air, ire, er, ear

vocalic R

The Vocalic R Overview

Vocalic R is when R comes after a vowel. In English, there are 7 of them:

  1. or
  2. ar
  3. air
  4. ire
  5. er
  6. ear
  7. rl (I just threw that one in here because it is not prevocalic and it is difficult to teach!)

Personally, I believe that the vocalic R is difficult for some to learn because

  1. the slight variations of R due to the preceding vowel
  2. it is hard to see what the tongue is doing
  3. vowels and R are very similar in their voice/place/manner

How To Teach The Vocalic R

1st: Assess all R variations

When a child is having difficulty with R, I first assess if he or she is having difficulty with ALL Rs. Most likely a child will be able to say one variation correctly. I assess:

  • Initial or Prevocalic R
  • R Blends: gr, fr, br, kr, dr, pr, tr
  • Vocalic R: or, er, air, ar, ear, ire, RL

Anecdotally, I have the most success with GR and KR

  • The tongue is already in the back for the K and G.  
  • Start with "green" or "cream" since the tongue will naturally anchor to the top molars when saying saying the vowel "eeee.

2nd: Review anatomy

  • get our your favorite "mouth" 
  • review what the tongue, teeth, and jaw have to do to say R
  • my tips: tongue back, sides of tongue touch back teeth, tongue is a tight ball
  • I love the mouth below from Amazon. It is affordable, small, and durable. I have a few! I have the child use playdoh to make a tongue. Then we shape that tongue for an R. I use that playdoh tongue and mouth all session for feedback. Click the image below to grab it!
  • You can also use print or no-print cue cards to review anatomy. The ones below are available on the membership site.

3rd: Practice the R the child CAN say

  • use the R the child can say correctly to "train the ears" on how an R is suppose to sound 
  • the child will start to discriminate between a right and wrong R
  • the child will learn how a correct R feels in the mouth

4th: For vocalic R, start with the vowel!

If you want tips on prevocalic R, click here.

5th: Combine vowel with R

  • I use the cue sheets to start combing the vowel with R.
  • I move SLOWLY and NEVER break voicing
  • Moving slow gives the child time to get his/her tongue in the right position

6th: Move to word practice

  • Once the child can say R at the syllable level with visual and verbal cues, I move to words, etc....
  • I like to use the worksheets below to review anatomy and then jump to drill practice. They are great for home practice too.

Vocalic R Materials

When teaching prevocalic and vocalic R, we need the right cues and teaching materials. I added the new materials to the membership site.

vocalic R

Animated Cue Cards

  • animated cue cards for OR, AR, IRE, EAR, EAR, ER, AND RL
  • Great for teaching and providing the specific feedback each child needs (not too much or too little)
vocalic R

Printable Cue Cards

  • Printable cue cards for OR, AR, IRE, EAR, EAR, ER, AND RL
  • These are great handouts and help to keep all caregivers on the same page!
vocalic R

Teaching Material

  • visual cues for how to combine the vowel to R
  • use for teaching phase and review as needed
vocalic R

Specific Vocalic R Warm Up

  • Warm-Up for: OR, AR, IRE, EAR, EAR, ER, AND RL
  • Use for goal review, anatomy review, and to "warm up" muscles
  • plus get quick drill practice
vocalic R

Prevocalic & Vocalic R Practice

  • If a child can either say the prevocalic R but not the vocalic R (and vice versa), you can use that!
  • Use phonetic placement to facilitate the needed R. 

New Print and No-Print Materials

  • web memory game
  • no-print flashcards
  • print flashcards
  • leveled flashcards

Want To Grab These Materials?

I've got you! If you want to grab these R materials and thousands of other materials, please join my awesome membership!

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