How to Teach the M Sound


“Mmmmmmmm,” the /m/ sound.  A fun sound to teach, because even if your child isn’t using it correctly in all positions of words he/she most likely uses or has played around with this sound.  ”Ma-ma-ma-ma,” is usually one of the first sounds we hear our little kiddos babble because the /m/ sound is made by bringing the lips together which is one of the first motor skills our little ones learn.  If however, you feel you need to start from the very beginning I will walk you through the steps.  Here we go…

How to Elicit the /m/ Sound:

1. Model the sound yourself and encourage your little one to imitate you.

2. Put your child’s hand on your mouth while you are making the sound so they can feel the vibrations, then put their hand on their own mouth and encourage them to try to make the sound.

3. Have them watch themselves in the mirror to make sure they are bringing both lips together.

4. If they have difficulty bringing their lips together because of low muscle tone it is time for some lip exercises.  If this is the case let me know and I’ll give further suggestions.

Practice the /m/ Sound in Syllables:

Put the /m/ sound in front of all the long and short vowels, may, me, my, mow and moo.  Then practice the /m/ sound at the end of the vowels, um, am, im, om, em and finally in the middle of the vowels, imo, aymu, ema, omee … you get the idea.

If your child can successfully say the /m/ at the beginning of syllables then they are ready to practice the sound at the beginning of words.

Practice the /m/ Sound in Words:

If your child can say the syllables above with a nice /m/ sound then he is ready to move them into words. Below are 3 links to download picture cards of words beginning with the /m/ sound, ending with the /m/ sound or with /m/ occuring in the middle. You can also download these and other sound cards on the worksheets page.

Here are 3 sets of word cards to help teach the /m/ sound:
1. m-initial words.pdf

2. m-medial words.pdf

3. m-final words.pdf

Move the /m/ Sound Into Sentences

If your child can say the /m/ sound in the beginning of words then practice the initial /m/sound in sentences. For example “Mail me a  _________.” Fill in the blank with the initial /m/ words you have been practicing, “Mail me a moose, or Mail me a mermaid…”

If your child can say the /m/ sound at the end of words then practice the the final /m/ sound in sentences. For example, “_________ come home.” Again filling in the blank with the final /m/ words you practiced.

If your child can say the /m/ sound well in the middle of words then practice the medial /m/ in sentences. For example, “Sammy has a  __________.”

Move the /m/ Sound into Stories

Create short stories with the picture cards you have been practicing.  Have your child practice retelling them.  For example, “The mummy went to the mountains and ate marshmallows and macaroni.  Then he met a mermaid and shared milk and muffins…”  Be creative with this, the most important thing is to create an opportunity for your child to get as much practice with the sounds as possible.

Move the /m/ Sound into Conversation

If your child is successful with the /m/ sound while retelling the stories you have created he is ready to move the /m/ sound into conversation. It is at this point you can correct your child if he forgets to pronounce the /m/ correctly in conversation.

I hope these suggestions help.  Remember, the more opportunities for practicing the sounds the quicker you will see change.  But be patient, no one performs well under stress, especially not our little ones!


Heidi - Mommy Speech Therapy Heidi Hanks, M.S.CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 2000. She graduated from Utah State University where she completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She began her career in early intervention and eventually started her own private practice where she has worked primarily with pre-K through school age kids. She is the founder of Little Bee Speech, and is currently developing apps for speech and language. Heidi lives in Utah with her husband and 4 children.


6 Responses to “How to Teach the M Sound”

  1. Annette says:

    I just wanted to thank you your blog. My 28 month has dyspraxia. I just started my own blog. Though lots is just personal stuff, my activities with Meghan are being posted too. Tomorrow is a sound abc book. I was a teacher so some things aren’t too hard for me, but others are. Anyway, thanks! Feel free to drop by our blog too.

  2. pri says:

    hello,Heidi,
    Thanks for posting the useful information about the speech therapy.I have a 4 year old son who does not have any words/He receives the speech therapy.He can say ma-ma but with no meaning.But when I ask him to repeat the ma-ma all he will say his oooooo.Basically he will say ooooo for everything.Can you also suggest any lip exercises .

    Thanks,
    PRi

  3. Heidi says:

    Pri,

    Thank you for reading! It may be that your speech pathologist is working on imitation and turn-taking and that is a very good place to start. When starting with imitation I would suggest imitating actions that your son is already doing. If he is tapping the table with his hand, sit right next to him and when he pauses you tap the table with your hand as well. Then wait for him to take another turn. Whatever he does you copy. It won’t be long before he catches on to the game you are playing together. After he begins to get the idea you try to get him to imitate an action you perform.

    Once your son is good at playing this imitation game with you, you can try playing it with sounds. Start with the sounds he knows. If you can get him to take turns saying “ooooo” start there. Then when he says “ma-ma” simply imitate him and wait to see if he says it again after you.

    As far as good lip exercises for the /m/ sound I would suggest starting with single sip cup drinking. Simply have your son take a single sip out of an open cup, put the cup down, have him swallow, then take another sip. Doing this repetitively will give more opportunities to bring his lips together and strengthen those muscles.

    Best of luck with everything!

  4. April says:

    Thanks for the great tips and flash cards. My daughter drops off the sounds at ends of words and I have been trying to get her to do the ‘p’ or the ‘m’ at the end of cup or mom for example and I just have not been successful. She is 2.5 years old. Any other tips or suggestions of things I can try? I will be having her see a speech therapist in a couple of weeks which will hopefully help since she is my 3rd child and all have needed speech therapy.

  5. Heidi says:

    Hi April,

    Leaving sounds off the ends of words is a common error among our little toddlers and is known as the phonological process “final consonant deletion.” Targeting one specific sound at a time at the end of words has been the most successful approach for me when targeting final consonant deletion. For example, I worked with the cutest 3 year old little girl who did this very same thing. We started by targeting the /p/ sound at the end of words. We chose the /p/ sound to start with because she said this sound very clearly at the beginning of words. We started by introducing her to the final /p/ pictures I have on my worksheets page. We went through them multiple times to start with to make sure she was familiar with the pictures. Then I would place a picture in front of her with the letter P on the right side of the picture card. We would read the card and then point to the letter P and say the /p/ sound directly after the word. Before too many repetitions she caught on that I expected her to do the /p/ sound at the end of the word. She got quite good at adding the /p/ sound on the end of her words in therapy so we started working on the /p/ final words in sentences and stories. You can also find those on the worksheets page. After that it wasn’t too long before she started to put the /p/ sound at the end of words in conversation.

    After she mastered the /p/ sound we started working on the /b/ sound, another sound she already said well in the beginning of words. She mastered this sound at the end of words even quicker than the /p/ sound. After we had gone through about 5 or 6 different sounds at the end of words she finally started to generalize the concept that she needed to end her words with a sound and she started to put sounds we hadn’t targeted in therapy at the ends of her words. She figured it out! And that meant she no longer needed therapy. Which was both happy and sad for me. I can’t help getting attached to the kids I work with and I miss them when it is time to say goodbye.

    I hope this helps give you an idea of where to start. Good luck!

  6. prasanjit says:

    thanks mam for this beautiful blogs… mam i am a slp and just searching some therapy technique for autistic child.. really this articulation therapy just give me most powerful approach