Home Using Speech Cue Cards For Parents How to Use Speech Cue Cards for Pre-Literacy in the Home
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Written by Rachel Betzen   

How to Use Speech Cue Cards for Pre-Literacy in the Home

Children love to play with sounds, whether it is the sound effects they make to enhance their creative play or the funny words that make them laugh. Speech cues used along with sounds and matching letters will help improve your child's awareness of where that sound shows up in words, and what she is doing with her mouth to make it happen. A person's awareness of sounds is referred to as phonological awareness.


A good place to begin is to use the cues to match with the first sound in words. Make the hand cue for the first sound in the important words that you are saying. Encourage your child to playfully do the same. Your child can learn the cue for the first sound in her name, which I also refer to as a child's “name sign”. If you work with your child in this way, making hand signs for the first sound in words you say, she will learn a surprising number of the speech cues in a short amount of time.


Once children have learned some of the hand cues they will be able to recognize these cues on the cards. The letter on the card that matches the sound will help her learn which letters match up with which sounds, which can be a daunting task for young children to sort out. Work with your child to help her find the right card based on the sound and matching hand cue. Help your child to spell short words by making each hand cue and sound separately and having her find the right cards and put them in order.


Making booklets in this manner is an excellent literacy activity for young children. You can cut and paste the right pictures to do this yourself, or look for themed units on this site which will contain all the pictures and hand cue pictures to make personalized booklets. There are many on-line coloring books where parents may search for pictures and print them for free. Look for some of these resources on our links page.


Many crafts or games that you do with your child can be easily adapted into terrific language and literacy experiences. Ask your child for a sentence or few words to describe her pictures, and write this underneath. Have a space for your child to write her name and copy a few words as she is able. Label pictures using the speech cue cards. Place word labels made with speech cards on common items around your house, and play simple games finding these items, or a more complex treasure hunt type game with different clues. As you play family board games, make the hand signs or hold up the “name sign” speech cue card to show whose turn comes next (ex: the /m/ speech cue card for Mom's turn, or the /t/ card for Tommy's turn).


Allow your child to enjoy this learning process, and treasure the special time that you are spending together. Reading stories, doing learning activities, and playing with sounds is great fun, and it should be! As your child makes mistakes gently reinforce the correct sounds or hand cues and encourage him to imitate you, without pushing too hard. Early childhood is a magical time of play and learning, and the time you invest in your child now can not only give him a head start on reading, but will also foster stronger and closer family bonds.





Dallas Reading and Language Services

Rachel Betzen MA, CCC/SLP


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(214) 274-7455


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