Worksheets: Complexity Principles; Natural Phonological Tendencies; Lexical Properties, Markedness, SSP, Phonotactics and Facilitative Contexts
- Created: Friday, 04 November 2011 14:20
- Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2016 10:20
This resource page contains many picture-and-word work sheets intended for use in speech-language pathology intervention.
The sheets were made in Microsoft Word, using copyright-free pictures from Microsoft Clip Art and Media, and other sources, and converted into portable document files (pdfs) with Adobe Acrobat.
The vocabulary represents (non-rhotic) Australian English pronunciation, and although most of the words and minimal pairs will 'work' in other varieties of English you may need to discard some. For example, pairs like saw-shore, and spa-star are minimal pairs in Australian English and in other non-rhotic varieties of English, but not in rhotic dialects such as Canadian, Irish, Scottish and most US 'Englishes'.
SLPs/SLTs and students are invited to use these worksheets and other resources when working with children with speech sound disorders. You are free to save them to your computer, to customize them to suit individual clients and to fit your service delivery model. Restrictions that apply to their use are stated in the copyright notice.
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On this page you will find worksheets that draw on our knowledge of "systemic" or "complexity approaches", lexical properties, implicational relationships (markedness), the sonority sequencing principle (SSP), phonotactics (metrical stress and syllable structure) and natural phonological tendencies. There are also worksheets for the adjuncts, /sp/, /st/ and /sk/. Go to the Maximal Oppositions (Minimal Pairs) page for maximally opposed / near maximally opposed pairs and related information.
Systemic approach / 'Complexity approach'
When clinicians apply a traditional approach to treatment target selection their focus is on the phonetic level and the learnability of the individual sound. A systemic approach, or 'complexity approach' to treatment target selection, emphasises phonological restructuring of the sound system (Baker, 2015; Gierut, 2001; Williams, 2006b).
Expected or 'predicted' changes, due to generalisation, are system-wide. In a systemic approach, clinicians choose non-stimulable, later developing, phonetically more complex, and linguistically marked sounds, supported by least phonological knowledge. They may also take into account lexical properties in choosing treatment words.
Baker, E. (2015). The why and how of prioritizing complex targets for intervention. In C. Bowen, Children's speech sound disorders (2nd ed.). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 106-11.
Gierut, J. (2001). Complexity in phonological treatment: Clinical factors. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 32, 229-241. Click here
Williams, A.L. (2006b). A systemic perspective for assessment and intervention: A case study. Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 8(3), 245-256. Click here
Lexical Properties - Word Frequency & Density
We can consider lexical properties in choosing treatment words, selecting those that occur with ‘high frequency’ or those with ‘low neighbourhood density’.
High frequency words may be desirable treatment-words
High frequency words occur often, e.g., come, go, good, look, one. They are recognised faster by children than low frequency words.
Low neighbourhood density words may be desirable treatment-words
Low neighbourhood density words have 10 or fewer neighbours and are said to reside in sparse neighbourhoods.
High neighbourhood density words are phonetically similar to many other words and have 11 or more neighbours. They are said to reside in dense neighbourhoods.
The words in a neighbourhood are based on one sound substitution (e.g., sat to pat, or sat to sit), one sound deletion (e.g., sat to at, or apse to App) or one sound addition (e.g., sat to scat, or back to black).
The word ‘bat’ is a high neighbourhood density word. It is in a dense neighbourhood of 40 according to the Washington University Speech Lab Neighborhood Database. The 39 neighbours are: back bad badge bag baht bait ban bang bash bass bast batch bath batteau batten batter battle beat bet bight bit boat boot bought bout brat but cat chat fat gnat hat mat pat rat sat tat that vat. The word 'ship’ is in a neighbourhood of 19 so has 18 neighbours: kip zip sip nip dip gyp rip hip chip lip tip pip sheep shop shape shin shear shill.
Children recognise and repeat high-density words slower and less accurately than low-density words which have 10 or fewer neighbours. Also, children name high-density words more accurately than low-density words. This suggests that lexical processing in children entails a high-density disadvantage in recognition and a high-density advantage in production (Storkel, Armbruster & Hogan, 2006).
So, in choosing 'treatment words', consider using words that are high frequency OR words that have low neighbourhood density (Storkel & Morrissette, 2002).
Low Neighbourhood Verbs (listed in the 1-page pdf above - no pictures)
blink block blow bounce bring broke brush bump camp carve change chirp clean climb clip cough count crawl crush cry dance dream dress drill drink drip drive drop dry faint film flap flip frown fry gasp give grab grow growl help honk hunt iron jive join judge jump love march pinch plant point push quack scan scold scream shrug ski skid skip smash smell smile snap sneeze snooze snore snort speak speed spell spend spill spit splash splat spray spread spy squash squawk squeak squeal stand start stay steal step stir stitch stomp stop surf sweat sweep swish swoop thank throw trim trot waltz want wash watch whoosh woof zoom
Low Neighbourhood Nouns (listed in the 1-page pdf above - no pictures)
ant arch ark arm axe bench blade blind block blood blouse branch breath bridge brooch broom brush bulb bump bunch bush champ child chimp church clamp clasp claw clay cliff clog cloth clove clown club couch crab craft cream crop crow crowd crown crumb crust crutch cube desk dial disk dog drain drawer dress drill drum farm fence five flag flake flame flash flask fleece flex flock flood floor flower fluff flute fog foot frame fridge friend fringe frog front frost froth fruit fudge geese germ gift glass glove glue golf gown grouch knife ground group grub harp hinge hoist ink jazz jewel junk lion lounge lump lunch lamp mask milk month moth mouth mulch mumps noise nurse palm plan plane plant plough plug plum plus pond porch pouch pram prawn price prince print pulse queen quiche quilt choir ramp ranch scab scar scarf school scone scoop score screen screw shark shelf shield shrub chef silk skin skirt skull skunk sky sleeve slice slime slug smock smog smoke snack snail snake snow salt spa space spark speech spice spire sport spring sprout spud square squid staff stag stage stalk stamp star steam steel stem stilt store stork storm stove straw stream street string stripe stump stunt swag swamp swan swarm swatch thatch thief thong thread three throat throne thud thump torch towel track tram trap trash treat tree troll trout trowel truck trunk sty tube tusk twig twin view voice wasp watch web whale wharf wheat wheel whip wolf world worm yolk zinc
Low Neighbourhood Adjectives (listed in the 1-page pdf above - no pictures)
black brave brown clean crisp cross cute damp dark flash fresh glad good grey huge large old proud quick real sharp short smart small soft strong sweet white
Pictures for Low Density Words with Clusters SIWI
blade blind block blood blouse branch breath bridge brooch broom brush clamp clasp claw clay cliff clog cloth clove clown club crab craft cream crop crow crowd crown crumb crust crutch drain drawer dress drill drum
flag flake flame flash flask fleece flex flock flood floor flower fluff flute frame fridge friend fringe frog front frost fruit sleeve slice slime slug smock smog smoke snack snail snake snow swag swamp swan swarm thread three throat throne
glass glove glue grouch ground group grub plan plane plant plough plug plum plus pram prawn price prince print queen quilt choir tram trap trash treat tree troll trout trowel truck trunk twig twin
Implicational Relationships (Markedness) and Sonority
Relationships don't always work out, and implicational relationships are no exception. It is worthwhile, however, to experiment with target selection based on the marked properties of phonemes.
Markedness is a concept from the study of the sound systems of all natural languages. A marked feature in a language implies the necessary presence of another feature – hence 'implicational relationship'.
- FRICATIVES are marked because they imply STOPS
- VOICELESS STOPS are marked because they imply VOICED STOPS
- AFFRICATES are marked because they imply FRICATIVES
- CLUSTERS are marked because they imply SINGLETONS
Some research suggests targeting MARKED consonants in order to facilitate the acquisition of unmarked ones, or more precisely, targeting marked PROPERTIES of the system in order to facilitate acquisition of unmarked aspects of the system.
What this means in practice is that we can target fricatives in order to promote generalizations to fricatives and stops (it does not work in the other direction); we can target voiceless stops to facilitate generalization to voiceless and voiced stops; we can target affricates in the expectation that there will be generalization to affricates and fricatives; and we can target clusters to achieve generalisation to clusters and singletons.
Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP)
Sonority is the amount of stricture or ‘sound’ in a consonant or vowel (Roca & Johnson, 1999). Steriade (1990) proposed a numerical sonority hierarchy: a list of phones, ordered according to degree of oral stricture and sound. Most sonorous are vowels (= 0), then glides (=1), liquids (= 2), nasals (= 3), voiced fricatives (= 4), voiceless fricatives (=5), voiced stops (=6) and finally the voiceless stops (=7) are least sonorant.
We prefer to articulate words with a rise and fall in sonority. For example, in 'tramp' we start with the least sonorous segment (voiceless stop /t/) then liquid /r/ with the vowel /æ/ at the peak, then the less sonorous nasal /m/, finally falling to the least sonorous voiceless stop /p/. This comes more ‘naturally’ to us than 'rtapm', for example, even though the segments are the same. This rise-then-fall tendency is called the sonority sequencing principle or SSP.
Consonant clusters are more marked than singletons, but are some clusters more marked than others? One approach to classifying two-element consonant clusters according to markedness is to rank them according to their sonority difference scores, using their numerical values from a sonority hierarchy (Ohala, 1999). For example, /kw/ (7 minus 1) has a sonority difference score of 6, whereas /fl/ (5 minus 2) scores 3. Clusters with SMALL sonority differences of 2, 3 or 4 may better promote generalised change to singletons and clusters. Gierut (1999), Gierut & Champion (2001), and Morrisette, Farris & Gierut (2006) provide evidence and target selection guidelines.
Pictures: clusters with sonority differences of 2, 3 or 4
The more marked 2-element clusters, with low sonority differences are:
/sm/ /sn/ 'shr' /fl/ /fr/ 'thr' /sl/ /bl/ /br/ /dr/ /gr/ and /sw/
blue black blob block bleed blind blade bleep blimp bleach blonde blow
dress drum drip draw drink drop drill drive drawer dragon drain drycleaner
flower floor flood fly flour flag flute flea float flash flip flat
fling sling flash slash fly sly flag slag flip slip
flake snake, flow snow, floor snore, flip snip, flag snag, flare snare, flap snap, fleas sneeze
free fries frame frock fruit frown frill front fridge fringe friends frond
feet fleet fake flake fat flat
glue globe glass glum glad glitch
lock flock lie fly lip flip
lamb slam lime slime late slate leap sleep lip slip
nip snip nail snail nag snag snake nought snort
rug shrug Rhine shine red shred
rush thrush rob throb red thread rust thrust rip thrip row throw
Shrek shrug shrimp shrine shrike shred
shred thread shrew through shrill thrill
slam slow slaw slate slip sleep slime slope sling slide sleeve slice sleigh sleet
smoke smile smart smell smash smog small smoothie smiley
snow snip snail snake snack snug snoop snort sniff snooze
sip slip, saw slaw, sew slow, side slide
swab swag switch swan swap swim sweep sweat swing sweet
three thrust thread throat throne thrush throw through
wag swag witch switch wet sweat weep sweep wheat sweet wing swing
Triplets: Near Minimal Pair Contrasts
sip lip slip; Sam lamb slam; sew low slow; soup loop sloop; saw law slaw; fake lake flake; fight light flight
team seam steam; tack sack stack; tick sick stick; sigh sigh sty; tore sore store; ting sing sting; pie sigh spy; pit sit spit; peak seek speak; pine sign spine; pill sill spill; port sort sport; purr sir spur; key C ski; core sore score; cold sold scold; cat sat scat.
law saw slaw; loop soup sloop; lamb Sam slam; low sew slow; lip sip slip; wheat seat sweet; wing sing swing; weed seed swede; wet set sweat; well sell swell; nail sail snail; no sew snow; nip sip snip; knees C’s sneeze.
Pictures for the 3-element Clusters
Targeting the 3-element Clusters
Prior knowledge of the second element and the third element is required.
The 3-element consonant clusters, /spr/ /str/ /skr/ /spl/ and /skw/ should only be targeted if the child already has the relevant stop (/p/, /t/ or /k/) and the relevant liquid (/l/) or glide (/w/) present in his or her phonemic inventory. For example, if targeting /skw/ the child should have productive knowledge of /k/ and /w/, but does not need to have productive knowledge of /s/.
Targeting the 2-element Clusters
Prior knowledge of the first element and/or the second element is not required.
The 2-element clusters, /sm, /sn/, /fl/ etc. can be targeted irrespective of whether the child has previous knowledge of either or both of the two elements. For example, in targeting /sl/ the child may or may not have previous knowledge of /s/ and/or /l/.
strap straw string streak street stripes stream strip strange strobes stretcher strainer sprout Sprat sprig spray sprain spring screw scrum scrap scrub screen script scroll scratch scrub Scrabble scribble scrunchie splash splatter splint Splayd split splice splinter splat splits spleen splendid splurge squad squat square squash squidgy squeegee squire squiggle squirrel squid squabble squatter
strap trap street treat strip trip strainer trainer spray pray scrum crumb script crypt scrunchie crunchy splatter platter splat plait squad quad squire choir squid quid squash quash
Pictures for the Adjuncts /sp/, /st/ and /sk/
Note that the adjuncts /sp/, /st/ and /sk/ are not subject to the sonority sequencing principle with respect to generalisation. What this means is, if you target adjuncts the child will learn to say them, but there will likely not be generalisation to the other adjuncts or to the clusters.
spy speech spit spot spin spill space spear spine
clasp asp gasp crisp grasp rasp
stool stop steam stork stake stack star stick steel store sty stamp
waist nest ghost vest feast west best lost chest burst toast mist
ski sky school skip skate skirt skunk skull scuba skivvy score scar scat scales scoop skin
ask desk disk tusk whisk mask
deck desk tuck tusk mark mask ark ask wick whisk
key ski cool school Kate skate car scar core score cat scat coop scoop
peach speech pot spot pill spill pie spy pine spine pit spit paid spade pin spin
top stop talk stalk tack stack tick stick tore store tool stool team steam take stake
net nest vet vest wet west lot lost Bert burst mitt mist wait waist goat ghost feet feast tote toast
stool school star scar state skate sty sky stoop scoop store score
Phonotactics - Metrical Stress
|S = strong syllable W = weak sylable|
Iambs / Iambic feet
Some children who omit syllables only do so if the word is iambic (WS). For example they can say ‘monkey’ but not ‘giraffe’. Weak syllables tend not to be omitted word finally. Weak syllables are subject to omission, especially if they are word initial, as in “tomato” “potato” “computer” “banana” and “mosquito”. This pattern is exacerbated when an unstressed word is immediately before the iambic word, e.g., “I saw a guitar” (WSWWS).
For carrier phrases, it is easier for the child to say the iambic word without omitting the weak (first) syllable if you make the phrase iambic (WSWSWS): ‘I saw a big guitar’, ‘I heard a loud guitar’, ‘I had a toy guitar’, ‘I want a new guitar’.
Pictures for Spondees / Spondaic feet
For children who only produce monosyllables one way to help them to produce 2-syllable combinations is to focus on reduplicated spondees.
choo-choo tutu pawpaw bye-bye Coco dodo Toto Noo-noo cha-cha yoyo Bobo mumu La-La weewee tomtom bonbon Tintin Bambam
Phonological Tendencies and Trochees
When working on extending the number of syllables a child can say, or in working on sequencing the syllables in polysyllabic words and word combinations, it can be helpful to start with trochaic sequences. This is because there is a natural tendency for children to find them easier to say. A trochaic foot, or trochee, has a strong syllable followed by a weak syllable.
In the following sets of pictures and words each image is associated with a sequence of two trochees (STRONG weak STRONG weak) like CAmelRIder (camel rider) and WAterMElon (watermelon).
As the child grows in confidence and can say a good selection of trochaic words, gradually introduce new long words that are not trochaic, e.g., alphabet, America and dinosaur.
Pictures for trochees
helicopter, locomotive, caterpillar, watermelon, kookaburra, motorcycle, grand piano, alligator, mashed potato, Easter Bunny, creepy crawly, cheeky monkey, clever puppy, birthday present, picking apples, big banana, camel rider, ballerina, taxi driver, soccer player, under water, hula dancer, television, Humpty Dumpty, finger painting, escalator
letterboxes, tiger lily, very windy, scary monster, service station, stripy tiger, hungry kitty, cosy jacket, clever lady, aviator, tractor driver, unicycle, shopping basket, stacking boxes, supermarket, calculator, shopping trolley, nice tomatoes, laundry basket, rubber duckie, pillowcases, dictionary, competition, excavator, chocolate crackles, agapanthus, Persian carpet, Cookie Monster, grand piano, tiny pencil
pencil sharpener, birthday candles, tape recorder, suit of armour, asthma puffer, graduation, Viking helmet, Hello Kitty, pressure cooker, motor scooter, airline pilot, ballroom dancing, table tennis, ten pin bowling, table tennis, exercising, scuba diving, entertainer, ballerina, hula dancer, opera singer, film director, portrait painter, carpet layer, fortune teller, respirator, coffee maker, vacuum cleaner, concertina
ukulele, movie camera, tennis player, toilet paper, salad sandwich, bunch of roses, fortune cookie, apple blossom, window cleaner, paper hanger, teeter totter, vaccination, milk and cookies, bunch of daisies, station wagon, music teacher, salad dressing, taxi driver, glass of water, education, swimming lesson, synthesizer, stormy weather, consultation, swimming teacher, exclamation, animation, plastic bottle, four-leaf clover, end of freeway
Phonotactics - Final Consonants (Codas)
Final Consonant Deletion / Deletion of Coda
Most consonants are mastered first SIWI. The exceptions are velars and fricatives which are mastered first SFWF. English has a LOT of final consonants, the most prevalent of which are velars, fricatives and voiceless stops.In typical development, children produce codas (final consonants) more often after short (lax) vowels.
When working on eliminating Final Consonant Deletion choose words like bus, check, cop, rather than base, choke, keep where the vowel is long (tense).
At first, credit any final consonant, building on what the child already has in his or her inventory. If possible, select words with ‘favoured’ (in the language) final consonants: i.e., fricatives, velars and voiceless stops.
Wordlist and Pictures and Words for FCD
miss mess mass bus moss bus kiss guess gas fuss boss fuss Liz says jazz buzz Oz buzz fizz Des has fuzz was fuzz whiff eff gaffe cuff cough cuff biff chef graph tough off tough live rev have dove of dove give Bev Rav glove Dov glove wish mesh cash rush posh rush dish flesh mash hush wash hush
pick peck pack tuck lock tuck wick neck back luck knock luck fig peg wag bug fog bug twig beg bag mug log mug wing bang bung song bung sing fang rung long rung
zip yep nap cup top cup dip Shep lap pup pop pup mitt net bat nut hot nut hit pet pat hut dot hut wick neck yak luck wok luck sick deck pack buck sock buck
miss kiss Liz fizz whiff biff live give wish dish mess guess says eff rev chef mesh gas mass jazz Rav cash bus cuff buzz dove rush wash cough mash posh of moss boss Oz glove
pick wick fig twig wing lick sing peck neck peg beg pack back pack wag bag bang fang tuck luck bug mug bung rung lock knock fog log song pig book buck wok gong king long
zip dip mitt hit wick sick yep Shep net pet neck deck nap lap bat pat yak pack cup pup nut hut luck buck hot dot wok sock
bee beet bee beach pie pipe Sue suit “C” seat row road buy bike buy bite chew choose bee beak cow couch sew soak ray rain ray race why wine why white why wife why wise weigh wake weigh wait lay lake lay late lay lane lay lace lay lame lie like lie light lie line lie lime tea tease tea team rye rice tray train purr purse hoe hose car calf car card chore chalk four fork shoe shoes scar scarf
go goat bow boat dough dome hoe hose throw throne row road no nose toe toad
Phonological Tendencies and Reduplication
In working to eliminate reduplication capitalise on the natural phonological tendency for toddlers to produce /i/ as the second vowel ov a CVCV word or babble. Note also that alveolars tend to co-occur in the language with high front vowels. Choose, as therapy targets, words such as pretty, itty-bitty, daddy, tidy, pussy, messy, busy, easy funny, bunny, silly and billy.
Pictures & Words for Eliminating Reduplication
sit knit feet seat kid lid bead read kiss hiss geese piece fizz his bees cheese bin pin bean queen drill hill seal wheel
pretty spotty muddy teddy messy pussy busy dizzy funny sunny frilly silly
Pictures and Words for children who only produce monosyllables
The reduplication worksheets above can also be used to encourage two-syllable combinations.
Use the 2-syllable words on the "spotty snap" sheets above to help children who find it difficult to produce >1 syllable (i.e. those who only produce monosyllables). Try /iː/ following a CVC word where both consonants are alveolars – Ted/teddy, etc. In extending this try to use words with a short vowel in the first syllable. Then try /iː/ following a CVC word where only the second consonant is an alveolar puss/pussy, etc.
Ted teddy, sun sunny, Dad Daddy, Sis Sissy, Nan Nanny, puss pussy, mess messy, fun funny, mouse mousie, goose goosie, kiss kissy, rat ratty, bird birdie, rain rainy, bud buddy; pretty muddy busy dizzy frilly silly; Spotty Snap Game (larger pictures on two pages); Spotty Snap Game (smaller pictures on one page); final and within word alveolar word lists
Backward Build-ups for teaching long words
Backward build-ups have long been used used in ESL and teaching (and in teaching children and adults other languages too). Velleman (2003) advocates backward build-ups as a therapy technique for multi-syllabic words, especially with children with CAS. You start with as much of the end of the word a child can say. This might even be ALL of the word except the first syllable.
Here are four examples.
teach and strengthen "arry"
teach and strengthen "shun-arry"
teach and strengthen "dick-shun-arry"
modify the stress and timing (prosodic features)
until you have dictionary
teach and strengthen "yuh"
teach and strengthen "forn-juh"
teach and strengthen "lee-forn-yuh"
teach and strengthen "callie-forn-yuh"
modify the stress and timing (prosodic features) until you have California
Successive Approximations (Progressive Approximations)
Successive Approximations (also called Progressive Approximations) involve a shaping technique in which the child is taught to use syllables he or she can pronounce in order to produce an intelligible but not-quite-perfect version (an approximation) of the target word or phrase. In the following example, Max, who was unable to produce /r/ was taught to say Leura Public as "Loowa Public".