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Prosody Activities For Children With Apraxia of Speech

(reprinted with permission of the author)

By
Shelley Velleman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

For Preschool Children

  1. Rhythm
    • Drums, clapping, marching, etc.
    • Use to beat out number of syllables per word or to keep time with songs, rhymes, etc. Provides rhythmic “frame” for word and syllable production. [BEWARE of “excess equal” stress! Do not encourage robotic production, with each syllable equally stressed.]
    • Use big (loud, higher pitch) and small (quieter, lower pitch) drum to represent stressed versus unstressed syllables.
  2. Pitch
    • Animal sound keyboard: Imitate “daddy” chirp, bark etc. (lowest note) versus “baby” (highest) versus “mommy” (middle).
    • Songs, finger plays etc. Play activities and books with animal “voices”, “daddy” versus “baby” voices, etc.
  3. Volume control
    • Telling secrets, baby sleeping, etc. — whisper
    • BINGO, John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt, etc. (songs with loud and soft) “Wheels on the Bus” with loud vs. soft voice for different verses
  4. Duration
    • Songs, finger-plays, walking games (e.g., “Lion Hunt”) etc. with longer duration words accompanying slower actions.

For School-Age Children

  1. Stress Patterns
    • Word Stress:
      • Identify the number of syllables in a word (by clapping, with blocks, etc.).
      • Identify the stressed syllable in orally presented multisyllabic words.
      • Imitate multisyllabic words with appropriate stress.
      • Produce familiar (from steps 1-3) multisyllabic words with appropriate stress.
    • Phrase Stress:
      • Correctly match a spoken phrase with its meaning: EX.: “black+board” with stress on “black”, matches “what the teacher writes on”
      • with stress on “board”, matches “a board which has been painted black”.
      • Other examples include: white house, light house, greenhouse, hot house, big top, fish tank, black bird, blue bird, hot dog.
      • Correctly stress a phrase to match the given meaning (production).
    • Sentence Stress:
          • Identify the stressed word in spoken sentences. (Stress may need to be exaggerated initially.)
          • Given a wh-question, identify which word should be stressed in a written sentence. For example:
            “Who ate the cheese?” –> “The mouse ate the cheese”.
            “What did the mouse eat?” –> “The mouse ate the cheese”.
            “What did the mouse do to the cheese?” –> “The mouse ate the cheese”.
          • Correctly repeat the sentence when modeled after marking the word to be stressed.
          • Given a wh-question, correctly stress the reply.
          • Given a written paragraph from a textbook, identify words which should be stressed (i.e., the most critical pieces of information.) if the paragraph were to be read aloud.
          • Given a written paragraph from a textbook, read it aloud after marking correct stress.
    • Carry over these skills to:
      • Reading aloud in the classroom when forewarned of which portion of written text (s)he will be asked to read (so that (s)he can independently pre-read it and select words to be stressed).
      • Appropriately stress words in controlled conversation (i.e., in therapy).
      • Appropriately stress words in conversation when asked to clarify an utterance.
      • Appropriately stress words in conversation.
  2. Pitch (Sentence-Level)
    • Identify rising pitch vs. falling pitch at the ends of orally presented sentences:
      • In yes/no questions (rising) versus wh-questions and statements (falling pitch).
      • In lists (including counting) — rising pitch on all but last item, falling on last. Signal when the last item is produced (based upon pitch cue).
    • Given written sentences, indicate where the speaker should produce rising pitch vs. falling pitch in the above environments.
    • Given written sentences, produce rising pitch vs. falling pitch in the above environments, first in imitation, then spontaneously.
    • Given written paragraphs, mark words that should receive rising versus falling pitch, then read them aloud accordingly.
    • Use pitch appropriately in controlled conversation (i.e., in therapy).
    • Use pitch appropriately in conversation when asked to clarify an utterance.
    • Use pitch appropriately in conversation.
  3. Pauses
    • Identify pauses within orally presented sentences.
    • Given written sentences, identify locations where pauses should occur (at edges of noun phrases, verb phrases, clauses, etc.).
    • Repeat sentences with appropriate pauses (based upon prior identification).
    • Read sentences with appropriate pauses (based upon prior identification).
    • Use pauses appropriately in controlled conversation (i.e., in therapy).
    • Use pauses appropriately in conversation when asked to clarify an utterance.
    • Use pauses appropriately in conversation.