Games are a great alternative when articulation drills get, well… boring.
But can articulation games for speech therapy be effective as drill work? Absolutely!
You know it’s important to get plenty of repetitions when practicing the r sound in articulation therapy, and sometimes a few minutes of pure drills can be appropriate. But kids get tired of drills. You get tired of drills. Yawn.
So we try games to spice things up a bit. Play increases participation and focus if done right.
So how do you get in the mass r sound practice you need with a game?
The secret is to play games that don’t require a lot of set-up or a lot of gameplay time between turns to practice. And of course, you can have your student repeat their word or sentence for multiple repetitions each time they take a turn during the game. (Shhhhh, don’t tell them- that’s secretly drill work!)
While I love those toy-company games that pop, chomp, or crash, those get over-used too. So are you ready for some fresh ideas your kids will love?
These ideas are great for practicing prevocalic and vocalic r, and many will work just as well with other target phonemes too.
Articulation activities that will get kids up and moving:
1. Roam the Room: Each student gets a notebook or paper and a clipboard. They have 5 minutes to roam the room and write down all the items they find that begin with the r sound or have an r sound anywhere in the item’s name.
Next, head back to the table and have your students create sentences with one or more of the words in each sentence. Students score 1 point for every correct r word in their sentence, so longer sentences can boost their scores. Silly sentences are definitely allowed! Example: “The ruler ran right out of the room.”
For word-level practice, you can have your students repeat each word they found 10 times. Score a point for at least 5/10 correct with each word, 3 points if they get all 10 correct. This encourages them not to rush through the repetitions.
2. Beach Ball Toss: Blow up a beach ball and write R sound words on each section. You kids will stand in a circle, and toss the ball gently to another student. Whichever word the pointer finger is pointing to when the ball is caught is the word to practice. Try 10 or 15 repetitions for single-word practice, or have the student create a couple of sentences with their word.
Have a mixed group? Why not write a number from 1-10 on each space instead, then post each student’s numbered word list on the wall?
3. Hot Potato for Initial R: Students sit in a circle and pass a potato or a bean bag. As each student gets the “potato” they say an r word.
When the SLP says “reverse” the student must say the word given by the previous student and begin passing the “potato” in the opposite direction. If the SLP says “repeat”, the student repeats the last three r words they heard before passing the potato.
If you have the room, add some actions to the game! When the adult says “rabbit” the student hops around the circle and then sits back down in their place. You can also say “run” or “red” (Jump up and touch something red in the room and then sit back down.)
The object is to complete the action before it’s that student’s turn again (or in a smaller group, before play goes a specified number of times around the circle.)
4. Rip, Rap, Rope offers lots of tongue-twisting practice for initial r. It’s great for kids who have already established prevocalic r and need to work on consistency.
To play, your students stand in a circle. The first student claps their hands and says “rip.”The next student claps their hands and says “rap,” the next one claps and says “rope”. If a player says the wrong word or hesitates too long, that’s a strike. After three strikes, the player is out, and sits down, but can continue to say the words with the group. The last person standing wins!
Table games for articulation of R that makes practicing fun:
5. 101 and Done! This is an articulation game for older elementary students that uses dice. The goal is to build your score up to 101 points without going over. Give your students a pencil, one die, and a piece of paper with a list of their practice words, and room to keep score. They roll the die and say one of their words the number of times they rolled.
Your students then decide if they want to score the number on the die or multiply it by ten. For example, if they roll 3, they can choose to score 3 points or 30.
6. Connections This r sound game works well for students working on multiple word positions. The first student says a word that begins with an R sound. For instance, they may start with “rat.”The next student thinks of a word that begins with the last sound of the previous word but also contains an r sound anywhere in the word. For instance, they may say “tired”. The next student might say “dirt”.
Connections is a great game for your older elementary students. It works well as an r articulation activity for middle school too.
Play continues around a circle until a student can’t think of a word that fits. That student gets to make up a sentence using the last two words and then play begins again.
7. Dots and Squares I’ll bet you played this paper and pencil game as a kid! You can easily play this game with 2-4 students, making it great for mixed groups.
Provide a piece of paper with dots in a grid. Students take turns saying their word 5x or say sentences, then connect two dots to draw a line. Each time a student completes a square, they write their initial in the square and go again to draw another line.
Want a Dots and Squares sheet that’s ready to print and go? I’ve created a page of just the dots, and also a page with both dots and initial r words. Get this free articulation game when you subscribe to Speech Sprout’s newsletter.
8. Articulation Chain: Tell your students they’re going on a trip and let them have fun getting creative with the location. You need to pack for your trip, but you can only pack things that have an r sound in the name. You kids can brainstorm words, or you can provide a list with their target sound.
The first student takes a turn and tells what they would pack. The next student repeats the previous item and adds a word. The next student repeats all previous items and adds a word. Challenge your students to see how many items in the chain they can remember!
9. Tell a Tale: Start a story and then have each student adds to the story using an r word. You’ll be surprised how creative your kids can be!
10. Never Have I Ever: This game is great for practicing vocalic r words. Students take turns finishing the sentence, “Never have I ever_____.” They must use at least one r word in their sentence. For example, they might say, “Never have I ever slept in a barn.”
Provide a list of target words, or let them generate their own! Target words can only be used once… so your kids will need to think of a new one on each turn.
11. Ready? Reach! This one works well for initial r practice. Fill a bag with pompoms, cubes, blocks, mini erasers or another small items that come in several colors. All the students say “Ready? The student whose turn it is says “Reach!” and reaches in the bag without looking, then pulls out one item and names the color they found. If they find a red one, they get a point.
12. Where’s the Pair? This is a variation on Ready Reach for vocalic R. Fill a bag as above. Your student practices a word or sentence, then everyone says “Where’s the Pair?” Your student reaches in and gets two items. If it’s a pair, you keep it and score a point. You can do this with cards or items. If you use cards, it’s fun to include a wild card that gives extra points.
More articulation R games for speech therapy that your kids will love!
13. Articulation R Bingo Riddles If you’ve played any of my Bingo Riddles Games, you know how much kids love guessing the answers to play. In addition to my holiday, seasons, and language skills Bingo Riddles, I’ve now created games for articulation too!
14. Articulation R Word Puzzles Games Crosswords, Word searches, Crack the Code, and Letter Shapes articulation activities. It includes pages for prevocalic r, vocalic r, and r blends. Print and go easy, you’ll enjoy pulling these out when you need engaging articulation activities for older students.
15. Articulation Pattern Blocks is a Boom™ Cards game. Your students say their words, then slide a pattern block to complete the fun patterns.
I also have an Articulation Pattern Block Bundle for you which includes activities for R, L, S, TH, and blends.
Boom™ is the trademark of Boom Learning. Used with permission.
I’ve got some articulation therapy tips for you when working on those r sounds:
If you need some fresh tricks for establishing that r sound, check out this post:
Are you working on the conversational level? Congrats! You may want to try these tips for easy data-taking:
I hope you found some new R sound articulation games for speech therapy that you’ll love!
Tip: Why not pin this post for later? That way, you can quickly find the list when you’re in need of a fresh articulation r activity. Have fun!