Have you heard of the “Speech helpers?” Speech helpers are the parts of the body which help us communicate. Things like your lips, mouth, nose, lungs, vocal cords, etc. Knowing the parts of the body which help us communicate is essential when teaching students how to improve their articulation. These help us use specific placement cues in speech therapy. Not only are they helpful in articulation therapy, but they are important for our students who have fluency disorders. Working on increasing fluency means reducing tension in specific parts of the body and utilizing good breath support. It can be essential to teach your students about the “speech helpers” so that they know what part of the body you are referring to during therapy sessions. It’s a great way to start with any new students and easy to return to during a session when that foundation is needed.
How to teach about the Speech Helpers:
Use visuals with your students! I created this visual below to hang in my therapy room for students to reference:
I then have students find these parts on their own body. You can give students their own poster to keep in their speech folders or you could even make separate flash cards with the “Speech Helper” body parts on them to use individually or in small groups with students. During lessons, I consistently refer back to this “Speech Helpers” poster that is hanging in my room.
One way you can make this lesson hands-on and more fun is to use play-doh to make the speech helpers. Children really love to use play-doh! It keeps their hands busy and it is both motivating and engaging for them. In addition to the play-doh, you can pair it with a model of the mouth model. Target Dollar Spot even sometimes sells a “dentist” kit with a hard plastic mouth that works great to use with the play-doh. I like to use play dough especially for working on velar sounds (/k/, /g/) and /r/ because of the way the tongue moves in the back of the mouth. It’s easier to show it with models than in our own mouths for these sounds.
Students can take turns labeling their speech helpers model. You can use this Speech Helpers Mini Book as an added activity with this lesson. Learning about the parts of the body is critical for communication in speech and language. A print or Google Slides version of this resource includes a mini book, a build with speech helpers and two posters. This mini book and poster set is the perfect way to start speech therapy at the beginning of the year or with a new client.
If you are working with younger students (preschool or early elementary), using Mr. Potato head has always been one of my favorite hands-on toys to use to work on body parts. You can have them put in the parts of the body on Mr. Potato Head as you name them or even have them dig for the speech helpers body parts in a sensory bin and label the parts as they do so. Then discuss why certain parts of the body are so important for their speech and language development and what those certain body parts help them to do.
Playing games and teaching songs is another great way to help students learn the “Speech Helpers” body parts. Simon Says is always a fun game for younger students to play and can be very engaging for them. It is also a great way to let students stand and get some wiggles out if needed during therapy time. In addition to games, you could always create a song similar to Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes for the “Speech Helpers” body parts instead-”Lips, tongue, teeth and ears…teeth and ears…” Students LOVE learning through songs and seem to retain songs very well.
I discuss the “Speech Helpers” in this blog post also, as well as other Essentials for Speech.
Do you teach your students about the parts of the body that help them communicate through speech and language?
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