Often called the Snake sound, the /s/ is one of the later sounds to develop. Children may present with a frontal lisp - /th/ for /s/ - or with a lateral emission of air (lateral lisp) that presents with a slushy sound as air escapes through the side teeth rather than through the front. Younger children may substitute the /d/ for the /s/ or omit the /s/ entirely. The /s/ and /z/ phonemes are made by bringing the sides of the tongue up to the top back teeth, then pushing a continuous stream of air through the small groove down the middle of the tongue. The tip of the tongue can either be grooved below the bump (alveolar ridge) behind the top front teeth, or the tip can be positioned down behind the lower front teeth with the front of the tongue gently placed below the bump (alveolar ridge) behind the top front teeth. (*Let's Grow Speech Blog).
On this page are /s/ and /z/ pictures representing the sounds in all positions of words. These words were found on Google Images and their associated web-site is listed on the picture. Have fun practicing the sounds while playing a board game or a card game. Have your child say a word, phrase or sentence before taking a turn.
If they are at the sentence level or above, play games that require reading (like Sorry or Quelf Jr.). Make sure they read each card aloud using their best speech.
Many children have to read aloud for a few minutes a night as part of their regular homework. Ask your child to pay special attention to the words with their sounds as they read. If they are able to, have them underline or highlight the words before they read.
Take advantage of conversational time to reinforce good speech. While your child tells you about a movie they saw or a play-date they had, remind them that you're listening for good speech. Use that short time to correct any error words.
The more practice the better, but of course we want your child to stay motivated and very invested in improving their own speech. Be specific about the times you are focusing on speech. During other parts of the day, it would be helpful to model proper speech production yourself. If your child says, "Mom, can we have (th)paghetti for dinner?" You can repeat back, "You want sssspaghetti for dinner? Sure. I can make that." By repeating it back correctly and stressing the targeted sound, you're providing your child with a subtle, but effective reminder.
On the right side of this page are some practice material specific to /s/ and /z/ sounds. The Photo Gallery at top was referenced above. The next document is a tic-tac-toe game that can be printed out for practice, or can be referenced while you and your child play on paper.
Here are some tips from the "Let's Grow Speech" blog to help your child improve their /s/ and /z/ production:
Fill in the blanksssssss
Sammy and Gus loved to go down the shore in the summer. The day after (place) was over, Sammy's sister said, "How would you (adjective) guys like to go to (beach place)? I'm bringing my surfboard so I can (verb) on some awesome (things)." Sammy said, "Sweet! I'll get my boogie board so we can (verb) all day." Gus said, "I can't wait to build some sandcastles. I have to find my (things) down in my (place). My mom just (verb) me a (adjective) swimsuit, too. I'm so excited."
The day started off great. They (adverb) built sand sculptures shaped like (things). They played games on the boardwalk and Sammy won a huge (object). Sadly, it didn't end as well. Gus went in the sea for one last dip and a (sea creature) nipped his (body part). Sammy's sister bought him frozen custard to make him feel (emotion), then they all went home with sunburn on their noses and sand on their toes.
Silly Sentence Practice
Practice Your /S/ Sound in
Princess Sally's Snack Stand
Check out who came to visit Princess Sally's Snack Stand. See if you can find all of the pictures that have your sounds. Princess, jewels, strawberry, ice cream, scoop of ice cream, skunk, stinks or smells, steps, squirrel, glasses, soda, straw, spoon, mouse, horse, skates, centipede, spill, sun, sky, grass, snack stand, slinky, stone path