The /p/ sound is the perfect sound to begin with for children who are highly unintelligible. It may be one of my very favorite sounds to teach because it is so visual and therefore can be taught quickly. As the child masters this sound it will build their confidence and make doing articulation drills more fun.
The very first thing you want to do is check to see if your child is stimulable. To be stimulable means your child can say the /p/ sound in direct imitation of you. If your child is stimulable that means you can move directly to syllables. If your child still needs a little help then we get to teach them how to make the sound. This part is fun!
How to Elicit/Teach the /p/ Sound:
The /p/ is made by bringing both lips together, and then releasing air in an explosive manner. When I introduce this sound to a child I hold a tissue in front of my mouth so as I say the /p/ sound they can watch the tissue move as a result of the air released while making the sound. Then we usually take turns making our tissue move or “dance” as I like to call it by making an over exaggerated /p/ sound. See me doing this with little Sawyer, in the video below.
Practice the /p/ Sound in Syllables:
Now that your child can say the /p/ sound lets make sure they can do it in syllables before we jump to the word cards. All you do is add the vowels a, e, i, o, and u to the /p/ sound. Practice saying syllables like, “Pooh, pee, pay, pie, po, and pa.” Once you feel good about those syllables try putting the /p/ sound at the end of syllables like, “ape, op, ope, ip, ipe, ap, up, upe, ep, and epe.” Then try putting the /p/ sound in the middle of syllables like, “appa, ippo, eppa, uppoo, ooppee…” When your child is successful with the syllables you are ready to put the /p/ sound on your words.
Practice the /p/ Sound in Words:
When practicing word cards I always like to practice the sound in one position of the word at a time (beginning, middle, or end). If you start with the /p/ sound in the beginning of words practice the cards below until you have at least 80% mastery, then practice those beginning /p/ words in sentences and finally in stories before practicing the /p/ sound in the middle position, or at the end of words.
You can find my word cards for the /p/ sound on the worksheets page.
Move the /p/ Sound Into Sentences:
When practicing the sound in sentences I like to use what is called a “rotating” sentence with young children. A rotating sentence is when the sentence stays the same and you change only the target word. I then pair the sentence with pictures so the preliterate child can read the sentence independently. I never worry that the sentence doesn’t always make sense. The child and I just say, “That doesn’t make sense,” and move on.
If your child can say the /p/ sound in the beginning of words then practice the initial /p/ sound in sentences. You may want to use a rotating sentence, for example “_________ on pink pig.” Fill in the blank with the initial /p/ words you have been practicing, “puppy on pink pig, or pepper on pink pig…”
If your child can say the /p/ sound at the end of words then practice the final /p/ sound in sentences. For example, “Pour _________ in cup.” Again filling in the blank with the final /p/ words you practiced.
If your child can say the /p/ sound well in the middle of words then practice the medial /p/ in sentences. For example, “Come puppy eat __________.”
You can find my sentences for the /p/ sound on the worksheets page.
Move the /p/ Sound into Stories
Create short stories with the picture cards you have been practicing. Have your child practice retelling them. For example, “Penny put her paints in her pink purse and took them to the party. At the party Penny painted a picture of a puppy on some paper…” 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. Passing off this level may take a little longer then the previous steps. Be patient, the better your child does at these stories the more success your child will have at moving them into conversation.
You can find my /p/ stories on the worksheets page.
Move the /p/ Sound into Conversation
If your child still struggles with the sound in conversation reviewing the stories again may help. Calling attention to his errors in conversation at this point will also help. It is likely you may find that your child is self correcting all on his own. Most importantly, be positive. Be sure to let your children know how proud you are of their efforts and progress!