Claw Machine Articulation and Phonemic Awareness Skills

The teachers I work with really get the relationship between articulation and phonemic awareness skills and that our students who struggle with articulation are at much greater risk for reading and spelling difficulties. So I don’t just hear, “he can’t say /f/,” I get, “he’s having a lot of f/th confusion.”

I work a lot with minimal pairs to get my kiddos thinking about how a change in articulation can change the word altogether and to, hopefully, get them producing something different (even if it isn’t quite perfect yet) for each of the pair.

And as we continue to perfect our productions, I continue to check in with them or “try and trick them” by asking where in the word their target sound is or if it’s in there at all.  It helps to keep them more mindful of what it is we’re targeting—a critical skill, I believe, to eventually moving to carry-over.

My nephew is all about the claw machines and has a remarkable collection of prizes as a result (my sister is less thrilled). I recently created some claw machine worksheets for my artic students that have a prize for me—an easy way to incorporate phonemic awareness skills!

Each target phoneme has a worksheet at two levels. Level 1 is say and color/dab only. There are 12 pictured words. Level 2 adds 4 non-targets so kiddos need to say, really think and decide, and then color/dab if their target is in the word. I didn’t make it easy! The non-target words contain a common substitution error for the target sound!

These print b&w, but there are color versions included as well in case you prefer reusable smash mats.

You can check the entire product out here.

I’ve also updated Maximum Fun with Minimal Pairs. If you have this item, please re-download! In addition to new graphics, it now contains three different activities—Sort and Say Flip Books, Say and Dab, and What Did You Say? Grab the sample here.



The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.