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Articulation Speech Therapy: Favorite Activities, Games, and Books to Target the TH Sounds
As a busy speech language pathologist, I appreciate finding comprehensive information and therapy inspiration in one place.
This blog post is an attempt to provide information about the “th” sounds as well as share some of my favorite activities, games, and books so speech language pathologists can target these sounds during their speech therapy sessions.
If you are targeting the “th” sounds, I hope these suggestions prepare you for your upcoming sessions!
Background Information About the “Th” sound:
Th is a consonant not a vowel. Stopping the airflow in the mouth with the tongue, lips, or teeth forms consonants.
Th is a unique digraph because it makes two different sounds.
It can be voiced /ð/ and voiceless /θ/.
The vocal cords vibrate when the voiced “th” /ð/ is made, as in “there”.
The vocal cords do not vibrate when the voiceless “th” /θ/ is made, as in “thumb”.
Th is an obstruent not a sonorant. Obstruents are formed by obstructing airflow so the sounds don’t fully resonant. Sonorants are sounds produced with the vocal cords coming together to vibrate and produce a continuous sound. (Britannica, n.d).
A fricative is an obstruent consonant that is produced when air narrowly flows through two closed articulators. Th is a fricative as the tongue is wedged between the two teeth and air is forced out.
Th is a dental sound. The sound is made with the tongue tip between the teeth or sometimes just behind the back of the upper teeth. Many speech language pathologists refer to the “th” sound as the sandwich sound or tongue sandwich sound because the tongue protrudes between the teeth. Seeing the tongue tip protrude between the teeth provides a visual cue to learners so they see what the tongue and teeth are doing to make this sound.
Th is in a group of speech sounds known as The Late 8. These consonants are the last ones acquired by children learning English and are considered the most challenging (Medbridge, n.d.).
Now let’s move onto the list of some of my favorite games, activities, toys, and worksheets to target the “th” sounds!
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TH in the initial position
Activities and Games to Target Th in the Initial Position:
- Play the classic indoor recess game – Seven Up (or Heads up depending on your location)
- Use these TH Sound Compare and Contrast Cards to describe similarities and differences between the pictured items
- Play the game Throw Throw Burrito – make sure to move any fragile items before playing this game
- Thread beads onto straws or pipe cleaners
- Play a game with thimbles
- During a thunderstorm count the number of seconds between the flash of lighting and the sound of thunder and then divide by 5. This will give you the distance in miles to the lighting.
- Act out Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Think about Thanksgiving and use the downloadable items from this Thanksgiving Vocabulary Building product to learn about the foods you may eat on this holiday.
- Talk about gratitude and acknowledge it by saying “thanks” for what you have.
- Watch an episode of The Cookie Thief on Sesame Street
Favorite Books to Target TH in the Initial Position:
Books about thinking, thunder, saying thanks, the Thanksgiving holiday, and the opposable thumb will provide many opportunities to say “th” in the initial position of words. The target sound should frequently repeat throughout the book. Books on this list have been tried and tested in my speech therapy sessions and at home.
Activities and Games to Target TH in the Final Position:
- Play Crocodile Dentist – many opportunities to talk about teeth or a tooth
- Play Greedy Granny – watch her teeth go soaring if you wake her up
- Watch the movie Zootopia and laugh out loud when characters Judy Hopps and fox Nick Wilde meet Flash the Sloth at the DMV
- Watch a kid friendly informational video about sloths*
- Play Melissa and Doug’s Pretend Dentist Play Set and talk about teeth and proper dental hygiene
- Learn about the planet Earth and make layers of the earth using play dough or food like pudding
- Learn about Earth Day with this Earth Day Vocabulary Building Product
* If the child uses the plural –s then “th” is in the medial position.
Books to Target TH in the Final Position
Books about a sloth, the planet earth, math, taking a bath, and brushing your teeth, will provide many opportunities to say “th” in the final position of words. The more frequently the target sound appears in the book, the better for skill acquisition. Books on this list have been tried and tested in my speech therapy sessions and at home.
Favorite Books to Target Th in the Final Position:
Activities and Games to Target Th in the Medial Position:
- Play Would You Rather
Ask questions from these books to inspire queries
- Grab a magazine and cut out pictures of healthy food versus unhealthy food
- Play the game Season Wise and sort the cards into categories related to the seasons and weather
- Learn the words to the classic nursery rhyme, Are You Sleeping, Brother John
- Use graham crackers and cool whip to teach students about earthquakes and plate tectonics
- Turn off the lights, grab a flashlight and hide these flashcards throughout your house or speech therapy office
- Play the popular game, Mother, May I?
- Buy some feathers from the craft store and make something!
- Sing Happy Birthday to someone who is celebrating their special day
Favorite Books to Target Th in the Medial Position:
Books about earthquakes, mothers, the weather, brushing your teeth, celebrating a birthday, and dental hygiene etc. will provide many opportunities to say “th” in the medial position of words. The more frequently the target sound appears in the book, the better for skill acquisition. Books on this list have been tried and tested in my speech therapy sessions and at home.
I hope this blog post has been helpful!
Since sounds and language are all around us, this list is certainly not endless. If I’m missing any must-have games, activities, or books to target the “th” sounds, please let me know!
These are some TH sound resources you may want to add to your speech therapy library:
- Same and Different: Why Speech Therapists and Educators Should Target this Basic Concept
- New Beginnings for Scanlon Speech Therapy
- Articulation Speech Therapy: Favorite Activities, Games, and Books to Target the TH Sounds
- Articulation Speech Therapy: Favorite Activities, Games and Books to Target the L Sound
- Grouch Couch: A Great Game for Speech Therapy