Articulation cards are flash cards designed to help children with speech disorders learn correct pronunciation, or articulation, of difficult letters and blends of letters. They are used by teachers, speech and language pathologists, and parents to help children practice the specific sounds they are having trouble with. There is a wide variety of different card sets available for purchase. Decks are available that teach one particular sound, such as "l," "r," and "th," or complete sets that include many decks may be purchased for classroom use. Most articulation cards include instructions for a variety of games and activities that make practicing more fun and exciting for children.
Speech disorders may be caused by a variety of different issues. Some are caused by muscle and motor coordination problems of the mouth and tongue. Others may be caused by hearing difficulties, eye problems when reading, or learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Articulation cards can help to overcome these difficulties with various combinations of colors, letters, and pictures that teach proper articulation at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Cards vary in their focus and method for teaching, so it is important to identify each child’s specific difficulty and choose the appropriate type of cards.
Articulation cards may contain brightly colored pictures of objects that represent the sound or blend of sounds that need work. For instance, the “B” deck may contain pictures of a butterfly or a ball for practice in beginning sounds; the “T” deck may contain pictures of a hat or coat for practice in ending sounds. They may also include the letter or combination of letters represented by the picture to reinforce the child’s reading skills and help him connect the written letter with the sound it makes. Some specialized articulation cards have pictures of people making the necessary mouth shapes for certain sounds; for example, the “L” card will show a person placing the tip of his tongue behind his front teeth. These types of articulation cards may be particularly useful for children with hearing difficulties or motor control issues.
Articulation cards can be incorporated into a wide variety of games and activities to help a child practice his language skills. Activities can be tailored to the child’s individual temperament and attention span. If a child does well sitting still and focusing, articulation cards can be used to play matching and memory games, articulating each match as it is found. For a more active and restless child, articulation cards can be incorporated into more physical play such as hiding the cards or arranging them on the floor and tossing bean bags at them, pronouncing each sound or word as it is discovered. Cards can be most effectively used both at school and at home; repetitive practicing helps reinforces the child’s growing skills.