Friday, March 18, 2016

Pesky Words

I walked into a first grade classroom to pick up one of my students for speech and another child, who’d graduated from my program the year before, hurried over and said, “When do I get to go back to speech?”

“You don’t need my help any longer—you sound great!”

He’d met all of his goals the year before and his only remaining error was with the “r” sound. His speech was typical for a child of his age so I dismissed him from speech therapy in his kindergarten year.

“But I need help with the word, ‘bugga’.”

Oh, oh—I couldn’t understand him. “With what?” (Maybe he did need help.)


He didn’t give me additional cues, just that one pesky word.

“You mean burger?” I asked. “Like a hamburger?”

“No. You know, ‘bugga’.” And to help me out, he stuck his finger up his nose.

“Oh, I see. The “r” is giving you trouble.” I’d hate for him to go through life unable to pronounce that word!

He’s a little bit young to start working on “r” sounds, but it never hurts to bombard him with the correct pronunciation, especially when he gets to hear it in a story. I recently read a book that is a perfect match for him. 


It has “r” sounds on every page. Here is a small sample,

            In the jungle, toucans snooze.

            Also sloths and cockatoos.
            Ignoring snoring striped hyenas,
            Monkeys dream they’re ballerinas.

                        But not Fred.

(The “r” is not enlarged in the book.)

EVERYBODY SLEEPS (BUT NOT FRED), written and illustrated by Josh Schneider will make a nice addition to his classroom as well as my own.

My students worked enthusiastically on one of the early Common Core State Standards (CCSS): “recognize and produce rhyming words” (Reading: Foundational Skills K.2) as they listened to the text and tried creating a few rhymes of their own. They worked on another CCSS when they “describe(d) the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (Reading: Literature K.7).

The illustrations captivated them—pigs nodding off “in stinky rows” and sheep lying “in a wooly heap,” but their favorite was the anteater with his long probing tongue.

They came up with ideas for that tongue I would never have thought of, but my student who struggled with his “r” sounds would have appreciated their insights! They were certain that tongue would come in handy to get rid of . . . well, I’d rather not say but think of that pesky word above.

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