New Tongue Thrust Printables

Tongue Thrust TherapyPlease stop by my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  I’ve published some useful materials for working with students who tongue thrust.

Tongue Thrust Exercises and Activities

Tongue Thrust Words and Sentences

Paper Suck Tic Tac Toe

What is tongue thrust and why is it important to correct?  A heavy force such as chewing only occupies a small amount of time each day.  Contrast that with swallowing at every meal, as well as the regular swallowing of saliva.  Swallowing happens hundreds of times each day and night.

For some, the tongue is not positioned correctly for the hundreds of times each day and night that swallowing occurs.  Instead of lifting up against the roof of the mouth as it should, the tongue stays low and “thrusts” forward, and often through the teeth. Others rest their tongue in a more forward position than expected.  This constant force is tongue thrust, and creates a space between the teeth that impacts the normal development of the teeth, tongue, lips, jaw and face.  It often impacts clear and understandable speech.  All babies use tongue thrust as a safety mechanism when eating.  But children are expected to grow out of this by age 5 – 7.

Use the search above to look for tongue thrust, also called myofunctional disorders.



Short A & Short O Minimal Pairs

Short A English Pronunciation Accent ReductionWhen working with myofunctional or accent reduction clients, it’s important to look at tongue placement and jaw height.

I’m working with a young man who substitutes short O for short A. His Dad sounds like dodd, his sack sounds like sock, and his laugh sound like loff.

It means he uses the right jaw height for short A (as is cat) , with a low jaw, but holds his tongue too far back in his mouth and says short O (as in cot).  He needs to put his tongue forward in his mouth for a correct short A sound.

The best success we’ve had is when he does minimal pairs, like

  • sad vs. sod
  • happy vs. hoppy
  • shack vs. shock
  • gnat vs. not

By practicing minimal pairs you’ll train the brian to hear the difference between sounds, and get better at producing the correct sound when needed.  See my free printable minimal pairs worksheet for short A/short O/ short U.

See my free printable practice list of short A here.


New Vocalic R Practice Pack on TPT

Vocalic R collectionPlease stop by my TpT store and see the latest addition to my articulation resources.  I’ve added a new Vocalic R Practice Collection that will be a great supplement to teaching/learning R articulation.

R is the most difficult sound in English and many kids and adults need help with learning the sound.  American R is also a popular target for ESL students, and teachers of American English pronunciation.

Worksheets are organized by sound and have space to add personalized words or sentences.  Use this collection in class or in therapy to practice words with the sounds:

  • AIR
  • EAR
  • IRE
  • AR
  • OR
  • ER

Vocalic R Printable Resource

vocalic R word listI work with a lot of kids who can’t say their Rs.  With articulation therapy we use lists of words and sentences when practicing.  Many speech therapists have shared their lists and that’s cool. For a while I used this one by Home Speech Home but it has many complicated variations of the vocalic R words, and I needed a simple set of words.  Anyone teaching kids to pronounce Rs know that it’s a very slow process and words that contain too many sounds will be very hard.

(Vocalic R are words that have a vowel followed by R, such as ear, air, are, or, ire and er)

I worked with several kids to develop this list of simple vocalic R words.  Then I built phrases, sentences and paragraphs to feature these vocalic R words.  I was careful to exclude other R words and R blends so that the practice wouldn’t be too hard for the kids.  I think you’ll really appreciate this vocalic R printable resource.

(You could also use it for ESL adults to practice their pronunciation of American English R.)

Thanks for checking it out!

40 Exercises for Tongue Thrust

40 Exercises for Tongue Thrust Myofunctonal DisorderI’ve complied many of the fun and effective exercises we use in speech therapy for kids with tongue thrust into a 4 page printable and made it available on TPT at this link.  These are exercises and activities that I like from several sources including Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson at Talk Tools®, Robin Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP and her book S.M.I.L.E. (Systematic Intervention for Lingual Elevation), and Kathy Winslow, RDH, myofunctional therapist.

SLPs – you’ll find lots of activities here.

Parents – Please consult your SLP or orofacial myologist.  He or she will give you guidance on which are the best exercises for your child.

Paper Suck Tic Tac Toe – Updated

Paper Suck Tic Tac Toe

When working with kids who have tongue thrust (also called myofunctional disorders) I like to play games, and one of our favorites is Paper Suck Tic Tac Toe. 

Straw practice with “oo” lips, and the straw in front of the teeth promotes the back tongue movement needed for correct swallow, and speech production.

To play you’ll need paper pieces, playing board and 2 straws.   Cut out the Xs and Os and lay them on the table. Each player needs 5. Players take turns using their straw to suck up the paper piece, and place it on the gameboard (without using their hands.) Like regular tic tac toe, 3-in-a-row wins!   When sucking paper:

  • Use “oo” lips.
  • Keep the straw in front of your teeth.

To make it easier use a fat straw, or cut the straw in half.

To make it harder, use a skinny straw and increase the weight of the paper pieces. You can use cardstock.   You can double the paper (crimp the corners so the pieces stick together.)

See my Paper Suck Tic Tac Toe Resource on TeachersPayTeachers.

What is Clear Speech?

Clear Speech vs Mumbling204I’m working with a little boy who has imprecise articulation, and speaks two languages.  His speech is garbled in his native language and in English.  We have worked on exercises to improve the strength and mobility of his lips, tongue and jaw.  He’s a “tongue thruster” so he’s working on keeping his tongue behind his teeth for most sounds in English.

Since he’s pretty bright I thought he knew the definition of clear speech.  But when I asked, he could not define it.  He couldn’t define it in his primary language either.  That’s when we worked on this printable “Clear Speech vs. Mumbling”.  He’s learned the new vocabulary and now he responds quickly when I correct him.

Don’t be afraid to back up, if you discover you forgot to teach something!

Get the free printable Clear Speech vs. Mumbling.

Using the Anticipatory Pause in Communication

anticipatory pauseWhen a child is a late-talker, what can you do to help?

As a parent or care-giver – Stop talking!  Many families with late talkers (children who are not putting two words together by age 2) have others in the home that do all the talking.  Maybe there are older siblings, maybe grandparents, certainly mothers (we are usually big talkers!)

But how can a child develop language and speech if he never gets to have his turn?

By using an anticipatory pause you are helping your child develop his or her communication. Here’s how to do it right:

  • Step 1 – Speak to your child (make a statement or ask a question).
  • Step 2 – Wait silently.  Do not repeat!  Watch your child for his or her response.
  • Step 3 – If your child does not respond, give a short cue. It could be a short version of what you just said.  Or it could be a non-verbal cue like a point, gesture or facial expression.
  • Step 4 – Wait again silently.

Each time you interact with your child, you will give him pause time in which he can respond.  Do not rush!  That pause may need to be longer than you want, but long enough for your child to “process” what he/she hears and come up with a response.  Think of your interaction with your child as a partnership.  You initiate and he/she responds.  When you keep going, and do not give a pause, your child will have a harder time saying his/her part.


Parent: “Do you want a cracker or a cookie? (pause)

Child:  looks but no pointing and no verbal response

Parent: Cracker … or…  cookie? (pause)

Child: points to cookie

Parent: Cookie! (pause)

Child: smiles

Parent:  Tell me “cookie” (pause)

Child: Cookie

Parent: gives child the cookie

(Hooray – that is successful communication!)


Here’s what real parents have to say about the anticipatory pause: “We have been putting into practice the anticipatory pause and it has made such an amazing difference already. If we just wait and give (our son) time, he seems to respond. The other night, I told him to take off his shorts as he was getting ready for the shower. At first, he said no and just stood there. So, I just looked at him and waited … still he did nothing. Then, I motioned to his shorts non verbally… and then he proceeded to try and take them off by himself. It was great. We have seen him respond  almost every time once we give that anticipatory pause.”




Silly Sentence Games for Speech Therapy

Silly Sentence GameJust wanted to share a terrific resource I found for another game in speech therapy.  These “Silly Sentence” games come from a speech language pathologist in Texas.  I’ve used her games in therapy and they are really fun and easy.   Click on the links below to go to her site and download her free printable games.

Ms. Lane’s Silly Sentences – R, K and TH

Ms. Lane’s Silly Sentences – S




FreeSpeechTherapyPrintablesBe sure to click on the NEW! FREE PRINTABLES page up above (in the menu at the top of this page)!

I’ve linked my printables in one place for easy use!

It contains a partial list and I’ll add more printables soon, so check back often!

Thanks!  Paula