Do you ever work on initial /r/ with your students?
Yep! Me too! Almost every. single. day.
And you know what? Most of my kids master initial /r/ in ten sessions or less! How? I read an article eons ago about how to stretch out your tongue to teach the /r/ sound. And I’ve been doing it ever since!
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10 steps to teach initial /r/
1. Learn techniques for creating a puffy wide tongue.
The tongue may look like a bowl (see my daughter’s tongue below) or a wide marshmallow (see my tongue below).
2. Hold the puffy tongue and add a short /a/ sound.
The sound along with the puffy tongue helps develop motor memory as well as getting the child used to vocalizations near the back of the mouth.
3. Slide from initial short /a/ (puffy tongue) into long vowel sounds.
This technique reinforces motor memory as well as aids in the transition to words. It is important that students understand that they cannot close their lips when adding another sound! They must keep their lips open the entire time.
Note: I have had much greater success using “oo” instead of “you”.
- /a/ + A
- /a/ + E
- /a/ + I
- /a/ + O
- /a/ + OO
4. Slide from initial short /a/ (puffy tongue) into short vowel sounds.
- /a/ + a
- /a/ + e
- /a/ + i
- /a/ + o
- /a/ + u
4. Add word endings to initial short /a/ (puffy tongue)
- /a/ + at
- /a/ + eek
- /a/ + ig
- /a/ + ock
- /a/ + oot
6. Shift the /a/ (puffy tongue) into an /r/ sound.
Shift the /a/ sounds into an actual /r/ sound. Add long vowels + consonant sounds. Remind students not to close their lips at all in these words.
7. Say one syllable /r/ words.
Using the new /r/ sound, practice a variety of one syllable initial /r/ words. These R+VC words should not contain any bilabial sounds. Remind students not to close their lips at all in these words.
8. Say multi-syllabic /r/ words.
Using the new /r/ sound, practice a variety of multi-syllabic initial /r/ words. These R+VC words shouldn’t contain bilabial sounds or more than one /r/ sound. Remind students not to close their lips at all in these words.
9. Say one syllable /r/ words with bilabials.
Using the new /r/ sound, say one syllable words with bilabial endings. Remind students to be very careful and only use their lips on these final sounds. Use a mirror or video recording to help students watch their lips.
10. Say multi-syllabic /r/ words with bilabials.
Use a mirror or video recording to help students remember to keep their lips apart and their tongues puffy for the initial /r/sound!