10 Easy Ways How to Teach the V Sound in Speech Therapy

Children often learn the /v/ sound between the ages of 4 and 5. Some children might acquire the /v/ sound earlier as long as they have already developed the necessary motor skills to accurately produce the sound.

The /v/ sound is a labiodental fricative, which requires coordination of the lips, teeth, and vocal chords. It is created by placing the edge of the upper front teeth lightly onto the lower lip which is the same mouth placement for producing the /f/ sound. The only difference is that the production of the /f/ sound is voiceless, where as the /v/ sound has to be voiced.

Nonetheless, if a child continues to struggle with the /v/ sound beyond age 7, which is the usual age by which they should have mastered it, it’s advisable to consult a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) sooner rather than later. Getting in touch with an SLP early can kick-start the right therapy to tackle speech issues effectively.

When to know if the child is ready to practice the /v/ sound

Understanding when a child is prepared to work on the /v/ sound requires noticing important signs of their speech and language progress. Typically, a child could be ready to begin practicing the /v/ sound if they:

Have the oral motor skills to develop the sound

Producing the /v/ sound requires the ability to control the lips and teeth, as well as manage voiced vibration from the vocal cords. Observing that the child has developed these oral motor skills can indicate readiness.

Are in the right age range

While there is variability in speech development, most children are ready to work on the /v/ sound between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. If the child is within or beyond this age range and not producing the /v/ sound, it might be time to start practicing.

Have mastered earlier sounds

Children typically acquire speech sounds in a somewhat predictable sequence. Before attempting the /v/ sound, a child should be comfortably producing earlier-developing sounds, such as /m/, /n/, /p/, /b/, /t/, and /d/. Mastery of these sounds suggests readiness for more complex sounds like /v/.

Are interested in imitating the sound

If the child shows an eagerness to imitate sounds, words, or actions, this can indicate readiness. Imitation is a key part of learning speech sounds, as it involves listening to the therapist or caregiver and attempting to replicate the /v/ sound.

Have awareness of their speech errors

Some children become aware that they are not producing sounds the same way as others, which can motivate them to learn and correct their speech. This self-awareness can be a sign they’re ready to focus on specific sounds like /v/.

Show frustration or desire to communicate more clearly

If a child seems frustrated with being misunderstood or expresses a desire to speak more clearly, this could be a good time to begin focused practice on speech sounds, including /v/.

Note: If a child hits these milestones, they might be ready to learn the /v/ sound with help. But, all kids grow at their pace, and some might need more time to start on certain sounds.

How to Teach the /v/ Sound to Children

Educating children on the sound can be a rewarding experience for speech therapists and parents alike. With the use of a variety straightforward and efficient methods, you can help children achieve the proper articulation of this phoneme.

How to teach the /v/ sound: Use of Auditory Cues

1. Practice the sound in isolation

Practice the sound in isolation before moving on to words or sentences. This means saying the /v/ sound on its own, without blending it into a word, so the child can focus solely on the mechanics of producing that sound.

2. Model the sound

Clearly and slowly articulate the sound yourself, ensuring that the child can hear the distinct voice vibration. Repeat the sound several times, emphasizing the vibratory nature of the sound that comes from the vocal cords.

3. Engage in listening activities

Engage the child in listening activities where they must distinguish the /v/ sound from other similar sounds, such as /f/. For instance, play a game where you say a series of sounds or words, and the child identifies or points to pictures when they hear the sound.

4. Play imitation games

Encourage the child to imitate the sound after you. Start with you making the sound, and then have the child repeat it back to you. Gradually increase the complexity by moving from isolated sounds to syllables, then to words, and finally to sentences.

How to teach the /v/ sound: Use of Visual Cues

5. Demonstration with Exaggeration

Start by exaggerating the /v/ sound yourself, ensuring the child can clearly see your mouth, teeth, and lip movements. Show how your upper teeth gently rest on your lower lip to produce the sound.

6. Use of Mirrors

Have the child use a mirror while attempting the  sound. This allows them to visually compare their own articulation with yours, emphasizing the placement of teeth over the lip.

7. Use Diagrams that show correct mouth positioning

Utilize diagrams or simple drawings to illustrate the correct mouth position for the  sound. You can draw a face with the teeth touching the lower lip and arrows indicating the flow of air.

How to teach the /v/ sound: Use of Tactile Cues

8. Manual Manipulation of Articulators (Use of tongue depressors)

With hygiene precautions, it might be appropriate to use a tongue depressor to help the child position their lips and teeth correctly. This direct manipulation can provide a clear, physical sense of where their articulators should be.

9. Vibration Sensation

Encourage the child to feel the vibration of the vocal cords by placing their hand on their throat while making the  sound. This tactile feedback helps them understand the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds, emphasizing the use of vocal cord vibration for the sound.

10. Do an airflow awareness exercise

Have the child hold a thin piece of paper or a feather in front of their lips while they produce the sound. The movement of the paper or feather provides tactile and visual feedback on the airflow and helps the child adjust their breath to produce the sound correctly.

Bonus: Here are some child-friendly words that include both the voiceless and voiced /v/ sound that you can use at practice.

Van Vote
Vet Vest
Vacuum Violet
Vegetables Valley
Volcano Vampire
Violin Video
Visit Vine
Vase Vanilla
Velvet Volleyball

Conclusion on how to teach the /v/ sound in Speech Therapy

Implementing these techniques within a child’s daily routines can significantly boost their ability to correctly articulate the /v/ sound. Consistency in practice and a patient approach are essential for achieving optimal progress in speech therapy.

SpeechTherapyByPro is an online speech therapy directory that connects speech therapy pros with clients in need. If you’re a speech therapist, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates speech therapy professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our speech therapy worksheets here.

SLP Team
Author: SLP Team

Our Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) team is a dedicated group of professionals committed to sharing industry expertise to help you grow your practice and improve how you treat your patients.

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