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Working on the Snake Sound in Speech Therapy: SW Words

This blog post is written for a speech pathologist looking for sw words speech therapy activities and word lists. It additionally contains suggestions for teaching s blends and provides the definition of consonant cluster reduction. A child’s speech can be very impacted by a speech disorder, and difficulty with s blends can definitely impact a child’s speech intelligibility. Read on for more ideas, strategies, and tips, and make sure to bookmark this post to reference it later! 

This is a blog post written for speech-language pathologists. It contains SW words activities for speech therapy.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we could receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended.

What is a Phonological Disorder?

There are different types of speech sound disorders. Children with an articulation disorder or a phonological disorder, for example, may have difficulty producing s blends. 

A phonological disorder involves “patterns” of rule-based errors. Some examples of phonological processes include frontingstoppingconsonant cluster reduction, and gliding.

Phonological disorders can be diagnosed by a qualified speech-language pathologist. 

A speech-language pathologist might find this list of different phonological processes beneficial.

Consonant Cluster Reduction

When young children have difficulty producing consonant clusters, they may be exhibiting a process called consonant cluster reduction. 

This occurs when a child omits (or does not say) a consonant in a cluster. An example of this might be saying “wing” when you mean to say “swing” for an sw blend word. In the “sw” cluster, the “s” was omitted. 

There are other consonant blends in addition to s blends, including l blends and r blends. Consonant cluster reduction can also occur on l blends and r blends. 

When Should Cluster Reduction Be Eliminated?

Consonant cluster reduction involving s should be eliminated by the age of 5.

Reference: Selected Phonological Processes. (2023). Retrieved 9 April 2023, from https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/articulation-and-phonology/selected-phonological-processes/

4 SW words for speech therapy (s blends articulation)

Speech Therapy Strategies for S Blends

There are many strategies that speech therapists might use to teach s blends during speech therapy sessions! 

Minimal pairs can be very useful for a speech therapist to use while targeting a phonological disorder. Try these consonant cluster reduction minimal pairs to teach s blends.

Give the “s” sound a silly name! I like to call it the “snake sound”. This helps remind my students how to produce it. To reinforce this even further, I use this snake sound s blends activity.

A speech-language pathologist could trace her finger down her arm while modeling the s sound. This provides a visual reminder.

Try pausing between the “s” and the rest of the word when modeling a target word. An example might be, “S….Wing”. 

Add some gestures and actions to make sw words speech therapy drill even more meaningful. Here’s an example: when practicing the word swing, trace your finger down your arm for the “s”. Then, fold your arm in and pretend to turn it into a “wing” while practicing the rest of the word. 

Play fun games, like go fish, articulation tic tac toe, or Rattlesnake Jake, while practicing the snake sound. Check out the 15 best speech therapy games for younger students.

Read sound-loaded books in therapy! Emphasize any target sounds or consonant clusters, such as s blends, while reading. Check out the best books for speech therapy.

Articulation and Phonology Treatment Approaches

There are several research-based approaches that SLPs might use in speech therapy, including a cycles approach.  Check out this CEU course to become trained in using this approach.

Complex, later-developing sounds are the focus when using a different approach, The Complexity Approach

For an in-depth breakdown of different treatment approaches for a variety of speech sound disorders, speech pathologists will love this article from The Informed SLP.

S Blends Word Lists

Need some word lists for articulation therapy? Speech-language pathologists might use articulation word lists during speech therapy sessions. Pair articulation word lists with different games or activities!

Check out these s blend cluster word lists. This contains SW words, in addition to other s blend words. 

SLPs might also wish to utilize these initial s, medial s, and final s word lists.

4 SW Words Speech Therapy Activities

Working on SW words in speech therapy? Or in need of engaging s blends activities? Check out these speech therapy favorites!

Snake Sound Activity

This snake sound activity is going to quickly become a frequently-used therapy material! 

They’re simple to organize, fun to use, and easy to take with you on the go. 

Just grab a magnetic wand and chips or some play dough. After your student says a target word, smash some dough on the circle!

This is an s blends activity for speech therapy. It features the snake sound. It could be used with younger children.

After printing and laminating, hole punch and attach all of the s blend snakes together using a binder ring. 

S blends can occur in the final positions of words too! Whether you’re working on an initial blend or a final s blend, you’ll love using this snake sound articulation activity in your speech therapy room.

This resource also contains a snake card with a carrier phrase to help increase the level of difficulty.

Minimal Pairs Activities

Minimal pairs can be very effective for teaching s blends. Check out these effective minimal pair activities.

No Prep Minimal Pair Sheets

Looking for the easiest- but still super effective- way to use minimal pairs in speech therapy?

Hint: it doesn’t involve searching through chaotic card set piles of minimal pair cards, trying to find the exact targets you need. 

After all, no busy speech pathologist has time for that!

This is a consonant cluster reduction minimal pairs activity for speech therapy. It targets SW vs W words.

Check out these no-prep minimal pair pages for consonant cluster reduction, which feature everything needed to run a successful session on one organized page! 

The best part is, this resource is also available in a bundle.

Magical Minimal Pairs

These magical-themed minimal pair activities and games are too much fun! This resource targets s blends, l blends, and r blends in the initial word position.

 It includes both low ink and color versions of many different games and activities, all of which are no prep!

Some examples of activities include play dough smash mats, tic tac toe, game boards, and spinners.

If your student is into all things magical, like wizards, gnomes, and fairies, this is definitely one to check out!

This is a consonant cluster reduction minimal pairs tic tac toe activity for speech therapy. It targets SW words.

Mixed Group Articulation and Language Activity

There’s a simple way to do articulation therapy and language therapy at the same time!

This might be necessary because you have a “mixed group”- meaning students with both articulation goals and language goals.

It might also be necessary because your student has both speech and language goals. 

This Mixed Group Articulation and Language resource is the perfect way to work on more than one skill area at a time. 

Students with language disorders may be working on skills such as comprehension, describing, following directions, creating sentences using conjunctions, and spatial concepts.

This is a mixed group speech therapy activity. It targets both articulation goals and language goals.

Students with articulation disorders may be working on a variety of speech sounds.

Target both skill areas by using articulation target words sorted into noun and verb pictures! 

For example, your student might work on spatial concepts by answering the question, “What is above the swing?”


In summary, this article provided a definition for a phonological disorder. It also provided the definition of consonant cluster reduction. There were also suggested strategies for teaching s blends in speech therapy. 

Speech-language pathologists might wish to try using these best-selling sw words speech therapy activities:

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