Click here to download the free PDF guide to teaching an entire class of sounds.

For many children with speech delays, long sounds called fricatives are particularly difficult.  These are sounds that require continued air-flow, like /f/, /v/, /s/, /z/, “th”, and “sh”.  If your child has difficulty with all of these sounds, keep reading to learn how to help him produce them correctly. If your child only has trouble with one or a few of these sounds, he will probably learn better if you teach him how to produce those sounds specifically.

How To Teach Fricatives, Step One:

Auditory Discrimination

The first thing you will need to do is help your child hear the difference between fricatives (long sounds) and the short sounds that she is saying instead.  To do this, you will need to come up with some pairs of words that are exactly the same except that one has a fricative and one has a short sound (preferably the short sound that your child replaces that sound with, these are called minimal pairs).  For example, if your child says /t/ for /s/, you would want to come up with some pairs like “toe” and “sew”, or “tent” and “sent”.  Here are some lists of pairs for the most common replacements for long sounds:

  • /t/ for /s/: toe/sew, tent/sent, tip/sip, tell/sell
  • /d/ for /z/: do/zoo
  • /p/ for /f/: pan/fan, pat/fat, pork/fork, fill/pill, four/pour
  • /b/ for /v/: bail/veil, vet/bet (man, those are harder to think of than some!)
  • /t/ for “th”: thin/tin, thigh/tie
  • /d/ for “th”: there/dare, they/day
  • /t/ for “sh”: shoe/two, shy/tie, ship/tip, shore/tore, shop/top

Once you have picked some of these pairs, you will need to make cards for each word.  You can either print out pictures you find on google image or draw your own.  Place two pictures in front of your child from the same pair.  Tell your child what each picture is called and then have him close his eyes.  Hide a penny under one of the pictures.  Then, have your child uncover his eyes and tell him which picture to look under.  For example, if you had two and shoe out, you could say “look under ‘shoe’”.  Make sure you exaggerate the first sound when you say it.  If he looks under the wrong picture, say “Oh listen, that word has a long (or short) sound” and exaggerate the sound for him again.  Keep doing this until your child can correctly pick the right picture each time.  Your child may be able to do this right away or it may take several weeks.  Keep at it! While you’re doing this, point out fricatives and short sounds when you hear them, but your child doesn’t need to say the sounds yet at this point. ** Modification:  If your child is not interested in the “hide the penny game”, get out two paper or plastic cups (not see-through) and put one picture on top of each cup.  Hide a piece of candy under one of the cups so that when your child finds the right one, he gets a small piece of candy.  Mini M&Ms work great for this!

Click here to download the free PDF guide to teaching an entire class of sounds.

How to Teach Fricatives, Step Two:

Say Fricatives in Words

Once your child can hear the difference between long and short sounds, it’s time to start having your child say those fricatives in single words.  Put two words from a pair in front of your child again, but this time, inform your child that he will have to tell you which picture to look under.   Have your child close his eyes and hide the penny (or candy) under the picture with the fricative.  Have your child open his eyes and tell you where to look.  Your child will probably say the word with the short sound first so repeat the word back to your child and look under the short sound picture.  Then, have your child guess again.  If he says the short sound word again, say “you said ‘two’ but it’s not there.  Do you mean, ssshhhoe?”  Then, help your child say the word with the correct fricative so you can look under that picture.

Once your child can do this, try having your child label a picture of a word with a fricative by just showing her the picture and saying “what’s this?”  Once he can do this consistently, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

How to Teach Fricatives, Step Three:

Saying Long Sounds in Sentences

Once your child can say fricatives in single words, have your child create a sentence using that word.  You may have to help your child say the sound correctly in those sentences for a while until she remembers to do it on her own.

How to Teach Fricatives, Step Four:

Catch Your Child In Conversation

Once your child can produce the fricatives correctly in sentences, you will want to help him remember to use it all of the time in conversational speech.  If you hear your child say fricatives incorrectly, repeat your child’s error back to him as a question.  For example, if your child says “where’s my two?” (instead of shoe) you can say “your two?”  See if your child can fix it back to shoe.  If not, say “Oh, do you mean shoe?  Where’s your sssshhhhoe?”  Then, have your child say the sentence again using the fricatives correctly.

This process may take a while so be patient while trying to teach your child how to say fricatives.  With consistent practice and loving support, you can help your child be able to say these sounds correctly.  Don’t forget to use the social media buttons below to share this post with your friends!

Click here to download the free PDF guide to teaching an entire class of sounds.

Where to Find More Info:

An extended version of this guide, along with 38 others, is included in Ms. Carrie’s E-Book: Speech and Language Therapy Guide: Step-By-Step Speech Therapy Activities to Teach Speech and Language Skills At Home or In Therapy.  This guide includes detailed information on teaching various speech and language skills, including this one, along with worksheets, handouts, sample IEP goals, data collection, and video demonstrations.  Or…

Click here to download the free PDF guide to teaching an entire class of sounds.