Simple Minimal Pairs Speech Therapy Activities

Are you looking for easy minimal pairs speech therapy activities? If you’re a busy SLP working with students who have phonological disorders in speech therapy, you likely don’t have much time during the day to sort through hundreds of minimal pair cards to find what you need. You need a simple solution. I needed one too. I was trying to work with preschool phonology students – many times in a group- and trying to effectively use minimal pairs became too “messy”.

But fear not, I have a solution for you!

Minimal Pair Activities That Are Grab ‘N Go for Speech Therapy

The biggest problem I face during my busy day as an SLP is finding time to organize. My SLP workday is often so “on the go” that I just don’t have time to sort through minimal pair task cards. I needed simple, effective minimal pairs activities for speech therapy that would be ready on the fly.

It soon became clear that the easiest way to do this would be to have all of the needed minimal pair contrasts on one clean sheet. That’s why I decided to design a phonology activity sheet with a small set of 6 minimal pairs per page. I find that it’s better to not use too many targets when working with phonology students. I have usually stuck with 4-6 target minimal pairs per session.

How To Use These Minimal Pair Sheets in Speech Therapy

These minimal pairs activity sheets are so easy to use! You will simply print out the desired page. For example, if you are targeting cluster reduction of s-blends, you might print out the sm vs m minimal pairs page.

Step 1: Read the Auditory Bombardment Word List

To start your session, you could read the list of Auditory Bombardment words to the student. Your student would not repeat these words. This is a listening activity. Each Auditory Bombardment word list contains 10 words with your target for that session. So, if you are working on fronting ( t vs k initial position), then the Auditory Bombardment word list would contain 10 initial k words (key, kite, call, care, cane, cage, candy, cub, kiss, kangaroo).

Step 2: Complete an Auditory Sorting Minimal Pairs Activity

At the top of every page, I have included speech sound mouth visuals. These speech sound mouths represent the two contrasting sounds. Your student can point to the sound (or sounds) that he heard after you say a word. If you said the word “tall”, your student would point to the picture representing the t sound (“tapping sound”). When you say the word “call”, your student points to the picture representing the k sound.

Step 3: Practice Saying Minimal Pairs

Finally, your student would practice saying the minimal pairs on the page. The great part about using minimal pairs is they allow your student to understand their speech sound substitutions easier.

How to Organize Your Minimal Pairs Activity Sheets

You can easily organize your minimal pair activity sheets! This is the best part. You won’t need to sort through piles of minimal pair cards anymore! There are a few easy options for storage.

Speech Therapy Organization Tip 1 for Minimal Pairs

You could easily store your minimal pair activity sheets in a binder! Everything you need is on one sheet. That means you can print these out. Place them in sheet protectors. Use them over and over again! These minimal pair activities pair so nicely with dough. You could also use them with a magnetic wand and chips, or anything motivating!

Speech Therapy Organization Tip 2 for Minimal Pairs

Another great storage option? Try using a hanging file folder organizer! I ended up buying two of them. I printed out and laminated each sheet. Then, I separated them by the phonological process. For example, all of my fronting minimal pairs are stored in one pocket. This makes things really easy in the middle of a busy day!

Mixed Groups and Minimal Pairs

It happens often. We don’t always get to work with our speech therapy students in individual sessions. If you are working with a group of students who have phonology goals, then here is your solution. Simply pass out one activity sheet to each student at the table. What I do is have one student smash dough on their minimal pair pictures while the other student practicing saying the target minimal pair.

How To Encourage Speech Therapy Carryover for Minimal Pairs

I also included parent-friendly handouts with explanations of each phonological process. These grab ‘n go parent sheets explain what the targeted phonological process is. They also provide some examples of what this might sound like. These parent handouts for phonology are really wonderful to send home. I like to staple these phonology information sheets to the minimal pairs activity sheet I am sending home that day.

What Minimal Pairs Are Included?

My Minimal Pairs Speech Therapy Bundle contains minimal pairs for a variety of phonological processes! It will make your life so much easier to have these simple, organized minimal pairs activities on hand!

Minimal Pairs for Fronting

Fronting is when sounds that should be said in the back of the mouth are said in the front. An example would be saying “tea” for “key”.

I have included minimal pairs that target fronting- both velar fronting and palatal fronting.

  • k vs t initial
  • k vs t final
  • g vs d initial
  • g vs d final
  • sh vs s initial
  • sh vs s final

Minimal Pairs for Final Consonant Deletion

Final consonant deletion is a process that involves omitting, or not saying, the final consonant sound in a word. An example would be saying “eye” for “ice”.

Are you targeting final consonant deletion (FCD)? Here are the targets included: p, t, k, m, n.

Minimal Pairs for Initial Consonant Deletion

A student who exhibits initial consonant deletion is leaving off the first sound in the word.

I have included minimal pairs for initial consonant deletion as well. The targets included are: p, b, m, w

Minimal Pairs for Cluster Reduction

Cluster reduction involves the omission of one consonant from a cluster. An example would be saying “nake” for “snake”.

My Cluster Reduction Minimal Pairs activity contains minimal pair targets for:

  • S-Blends
  • L-Blends
  • R-Blends

Minimal Pairs for Stopping

Some sounds require us to use continuous airflow, such as “s”. When we replaced these sounds with a “stop”, we “stop” the airflow. An example would be “toe” for “so”.

There are minimal pair activities included targeting the phonological process of stopping.

  • f vs p initial
  • f vs p final
  • s vs t initial
  • s vs t final
  • sh vs t initial
  • sh vs t final
  • ch vs t initial
  • ch vs t final
  • voiceless th vs t initial, t final, and p final

Minimal Pairs for Gliding

Gliding occurs when liquid sounds (l and r) are replaced with “w” or “y”.

Yes, there are minimal pairs to target gliding as well! These activities target r vs w and l vs w.

Minimal Pairs for Voicing and Devoicing

I have also included minimal pairs for the phonological processes of voicing and devoicing.

The targeted included:

  • p vs b initial
  • b vs p final
  • t vs d initial
  • d vs t final
  • k vs g initial
  • g vs k final
  • s vs z initial
  • z vs s final
  • f vs v initial
  • v vs f final

Minimal Pairs for Backing

Yes, there are even minimal pairs activities included that address backing!

  • t vs k initial
  • d vs g initial
  • s vs h initial
  • f vs h initial
  • sh vs h initial

Minimal Pairs are Effective for Speech Therapy

Using a minimal pairs approach in speech therapy can be very effective! You can easily SHOW your students how the pictures LOOK different. This makes it easier to explain to our students that the words should SOUND different, too.

The trickiest part for many SLPs is having the time to plan and organize sessions. This often involves many SLPs sorting through piles of minimal pair cards, trying to find the ones needed for the session. This is stressful for the SLP and can lose the attention of our younger students.

It is much easier to have a one-page minimal pairs solution. These activity sheets can be used in individual speech therapy sessions or small group speech therapy sessions. They will make phonology sessions much more effective and efficient.

If you are wanting to try using a minimal pairs approach in speech therapy today, make sure to check out my Minimal Pairs Bundle.

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