R Words for Speech Therapy (Lists and Activities)

Looking for R words for speech therapy? Speech-language pathologists looking for a quick list of initial r words, medial r, and final r target words to practice during speech therapy, make sure to bookmark this post. You’ll also find some great ideas for making r therapy more effective with a variety of engaging games, articulation worksheets, and speech therapy activities. Not only does this blog post provide a list of prevocalic r, vocalic r, and r blends, but it also suggests a variety of strategies for r remediation. SLPs will be able to have a list of words on hand to easily use in the therapy room.

r words for speech therapy

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Correct Production of R

There are different ways to make the R sound! These different approaches vary in tongue placement and positioning. The most common approaches are known as the bunched r and the retroflex r. The bunched r literally involves the tongue bunching and lifting up and back towards the throat. The sides of the tongue make contact with the upper posterior molars. The retroflexed tongue position involves a more flattened tongue, with the tip of the tongue pointed up towards the alveolar ridge. Read more about bunched r vs retroflex r here, plus check out some tips to teach either method!

Young children often have difficulty producing the R sound. McLeod and Crowe published this article, which reported that nearly all speech sounds are developed by age 6. A child’s speech intelligibility can be impacted by difficulty with R sound production.

r words speech therapy word lists for articulation

Common R Speech Sound Errors

R is often thought of as one of the most challenging sounds to learn! Here are some common R speech sound errors:

  1. Oftentimes in younger children, the w sound is substituted for the R sound. An example might be “wabbit” for “rabbit”. This is known as the phonological process of gliding. Minimal pairs might be useful in this situation.
  2. Occasionally, students might substitute l for r (for example, “light” for “right”).
  3. R might also be substituted by a “y” sound (an example would be “ram” vs “yam”).
  4. Other R speech sounds might lose their “R” quality and sound more like a vowel sound. “ER” might be placed by a neutral schwa, for example.

A licensed speech-language pathologist can listen carefully to distinguish which r sound errors a student might be making.

References: Bauman-Waengler, J.A. Articulatory and Phonological Impairments: A Clinical Focus. Third ed., Pearson Education Limited, 2013. 

How To Teach the R Sound in Speech Therapy

For children who substitute w/r, minimal pairs are often very beneficial. A rounded lip shape may also be contributing to this substitution, so providing cues and reminders to keep the lips retracted while saying R in the initial position of words can be helpful. Try having the student look in a mirror while practicing this sound. Providing accurate feedback is also important.

Older students with articulation disorders often struggle with the production of vocalic r words. School slps may wish to read this article for a deep dive into elicitation techniques for vocalic r. It includes 5 effective tips for teaching the vocalic r sounds. One simple idea is to try using a tongue depressor to gently lift the tongue up and back while smiling and saying “ER”. The teeth should be slightly apart, and the smile should be held during production. This can assist with eliciting vocalic er using a bunched R tongue positioning.

Watch this youtube video to see examples of how to teach R.

R Word Lists for Articulation Therapy

Do you need a list of functional words to work on the R sound in your speech therapy session? R can occur in many different positions of a word, and specific r words may be targeted in speech therapy sessions. The following word lists contain words with r in the beginning of a word (initial R), vocalic R words (initial, medial, and final positions of words), and initial R consonant blends. These R articulation word lists allow the speech therapist to easily work on a target sound and speech goals in speech therapy at the word level. Or, have your student practice at the sentence level or conversation level by using targeted words in sentences. Quickly pull these word lists up during your speech therapy session and pair them with the game or activity of your choice. These word lists provide less complex syllable shapes to more complex multisyllabic words.

Initial R Words (Prevocalic R Words) for Speech Therapy

Here is a list of r words in the initial position to use in speech therapy (prevocalic R words):

  1. race
  2. rag
  3. rain
  4. rake
  5. rat
  6. ring
  7. road
  8. robe
  9. row
  10. wrist
  11. rabbit
  12. raccoon
  13. rainbow
  14. rainfall
  15. reason
  16. relax
  17. radio
  18. rectangle
  19. recycle
  20. relatives

Vocalic AIR Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic air words in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.


  1. air
  2. airborne
  3. aircraft
  4. airfare
  5. airflow
  6. airport
  7. airplane
  8. airway
  9. heiress
  10. heirloom


  1. barefoot
  2. dairy
  3. daring
  4. haircut
  5. hairdo
  6. hairy
  7. careless
  8. careful
  9. parent
  10. sharing


  1. bear
  2. care
  3. blare
  4. fair
  5. hair
  6. glare
  7. heir
  8. mare
  9. pear
  10. scare

Vocalic AR Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic ar in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.


  1. arch
  2. arm
  3. art
  4. arcade
  5. arctic
  6. armchair
  7. armor
  8. army
  9. artist
  10. artwork


  1. barn
  2. bark
  3. large
  4. cartoon
  5. charge
  6. March
  7. heart
  8. garden
  9. garbage
  10. hard


  1. are
  2. car
  3. jar
  4. star
  5. tar
  6. czar
  7. far
  8. char
  9. par
  10. ajar

Vocalic EAR Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic ear in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.


  1. ear
  2. earache
  3. eardrum
  4. earlobe
  5. earmuff
  6. earplug
  7. earring
  8. earwax
  9. eerie
  10. era


  1. beard
  2. cheerful
  3. fearful
  4. fearsome
  5. nearby
  6. feared
  7. fierce
  8. weird
  9. yearly
  10. zero


  1. cheer
  2. dear
  3. fear
  4. hear
  5. pier
  6. clear
  7. near
  8. jeer
  9. gear
  10. steer

Vocalic IRE Words

Here is a list of vocalic ire in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.

Initial and Medial

  1. ire
  2. Ireland
  3. ireful
  4. ireless
  5. firefly
  6. firehouse
  7. fireplace
  8. firewood
  9. tired
  10. tiresome
  11. wired
  12. fired


  1. dire
  2. fire
  3. hire
  4. tire
  5. wire
  6. shire
  7. liar
  8. vampire
  9. admire
  10. dryer

Vocalic OR Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic or in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.


  1. or
  2. orange
  3. orbit
  4. ornate
  5. orchid
  6. organ
  7. ortho
  8. orb
  9. ordeal
  10. oars


  1. sword
  2. boarding
  3. boredom
  4. fork
  5. fourth
  6. horse
  7. corn
  8. court
  9. porch
  10. normal


  1. bore
  2. door
  3. chore
  4. four
  5. pour
  6. soar
  7. shore
  8. tore
  9. wore
  10. store

Vocalic ER Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic er in the initial position, medial position, and final position of words.


  1. Earth
  2. earn
  3. irk
  4. earning
  5. urgent
  6. urban
  7. urge
  8. Earthling
  9. herb
  10. earthquake


  1. dirt
  2. burp
  3. bird
  4. verb
  5. nurse
  6. germ
  7. third
  8. journey
  9. birthday
  10. learning


  1. stir
  2. her
  3. purr
  4. fur
  5. Brrr!
  6. sir
  7. infer
  8. teacher
  9. mother

Vocalic RL Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of vocalic rl in the medial position and final position of words.

  1. girls
  2. whirls
  3. twirling
  4. curls
  5. squirrel
  6. curl
  7. girl
  8. Earl
  9. pearl
  10. hurl

Initial R Blend Words Speech Therapy

Here is a list of initial r blends for speech therapy.

Initial BR Words

  1. brace
  2. brag
  3. braid
  4. brain
  5. brake
  6. brave
  7. brush
  8. bracelet
  9. brainstorm
  10. breathless

Initial DR Words

  1. drain
  2. draw
  3. dream
  4. dress
  5. dry
  6. drift
  7. drive
  8. Dracula
  9. dragonfly
  10. driveway

Initial FR Words

  1. frame
  2. France
  3. frog
  4. freeze
  5. frown
  6. fried
  7. friend
  8. Friday
  9. frighten
  10. fragile

Initial KR Words

  1. crab
  2. craft
  3. crane
  4. crash
  5. crawl
  6. creak
  7. crow
  8. crooked
  9. crumbling
  10. crocodile

Speech Therapy Activities for the R Sound

R can be a difficult sound to remediate, so great resources are a MUST in speech therapy! So try using a comprehension program, a fun game, or effective activities and worksheets for your students.

Comprehensive R Program for Vocalic R

If you need a systematic program that’s going to ensure great success for your R students, you’ll want to check out this R program. For students having a difficult time achieving success using a traditional articulation method, it’s beneficial to try a whole new game plan. This program is based on the extensive research of Sandra Holtzman, and is based on her R CEU course, with permission. It incorporates orofacial myology basics, which is often the piece that many failed approaches have been missing.

Jessica G., SLP, reviewed, “I’m so grateful for this resource!!!! Targeting “r” was like my worst nightmare and when students weren’t making progress I felt so discouraged and did not know what else I could do to improve accuracy. Thanks to Karen and this amazing resource, I actually get excited to treat “r” now. The approach used actually works and my students finally seem to understand tongue positioning better (and maybe I do too!). This is definitely worth buying! Thank you!”

vocalic r speech therapy activities

Vocalic R Playing Card Game Companion

Do you need to review vocalic r in different word positions? Check out this card game companion, which pairs with a popular color-coded card game. It uses the colors and symbols on the playing card, and matches those with a target vocalic R word. Your player would draw a card, then check his vocalic r sheet to see which target word corresponds with the card he has drawn. Trust me, your elementary students will love this one! It’s fast, easy, and motivating!  Please note: The Pedi Speechie is in no way associated with the well-known card game, which is trademarked.

Playdough Articulation Manicure Activity

The trick to making articulation drill fun? Try doing a speech manicure! This articulation activity, which includes r articulation and vocalic r articulation targets, will become an instant hit in your speech therapy room. It’s ideal for younger and older students because picture-supported cards and text-only cards are provided. It’s simple to use. The speech-language pathologist chooses the target sound, and the student chooses the play dough color (in other words, the “nail polish” color). After saying a target word, the student places play dough onto the “nail”, and continues to repeat the process until the manicure is complete!

r articulation activity

P.S. Don’t have any play dough on hand? You could also try pairing this activity with a magnetic wand and chips.

Mixed Group R and R Blends Worksheets

Trying to target language AND articulation goals in a mixed group? Let’s face it, sometimes the day can get chaotic! This mixed groups resource is designed to help maintain a school SLP’s sanity during a busy day. How does it work, exactly? Articulation words are sorted by noun or verb. While one student works on articulation, another student can work on language goals- using the same target words.

Use the noun articulation pictures to work on goals such as describing, following directions, spatial concepts, and making inferences. Use the verb articulation pictures to work on goals such as verb tense and creating sentences. These activity sheets are no prep and low ink, so you truly can use these while on-the-go. Just print them out and hand one out to each student.

r articulation worksheets for speech therapy

These mixed group worksheets are also available as a bundle. The bundle includes other articulation targets, including k and g, sh, ch, j, l and l blends, and s and s blends. Lou Ann M., SLP, reviewed, “This resource was easy to use. No prep! Worked well for mixed groups. Able to target multiple goals. Definitely will be using this over and over!”

More Articulation Word Lists for Speech Therapists

Short on time and need a quick summary of this article? Scroll up to see r words speech therapy lists. Then, try out these best-selling articulation worksheets and activities to work on the r sound:

  1. Comprehensive R Program
  2. Vocalic R Playing Card Companion
  3. Playdough Articulation Manicure Activity
  4. Mixed Groups Articulation and Language Bundle

Don’t miss these other articulation word lists!

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