V sound is a voiced fricative sound, meaning it is made with the upper teeth placed on the bottom lip, with a slightly constricted airstream, and the voice on.
We often hear kids say “berry” instead of very, and “begetable” for vegetable. In that case, they are demonstrating the phonological process known as “stopping” (substitution of /v/ with a /b/).
But according to developmental norms, most children should be able to make the /v/ sound accurately by age 4 to 5. If you’ve got a client who is past this age and is still struggling to produce /v/ words, it may be time to target it in therapy.
Flashcards are fine, but using motivating activities for targeting the /v/ sound in teletherapy or in-person speech therapy sessions can help keep even younger children engaged. That way, they can complete multiple trials for practice, and be more likely to attend to verbal and visual cues and eventually pronounce /v/ words.
Use the below articulation activities and techniques for teaching the /v/ sound. We’ve also got a /v/ word list at the end, organized from simple to complex, and in all /v/ word positions.
Exercise #1: The Cheerio trick
This exercise for eliciting the /v/ sound in speech therapy is a fun one that’ll give your client tactile feedback while learning the correct placement for this sound.
Start by demonstrating the /v/ sound in isolation to the child. Draw the child’s attention to how you gently place your top teeth on your bottom lip. Next, it’s their turn to try.
Place a Cheerio or similar small, round piece of cereal, on the center of the child’s bottom lip (it should stick there.) Then, ask the child to use his or her top teeth to gently bite over the cereal, bringing it into their mouth.
Demonstrating how to do this can be helpful for your client. You can also ask them to look into the mirror during this exercise so they can better visualize how the muscles in their mouth are supposed to move. As motivation, the child gets to eat the cereal after each trial.
Once the client has completed several of these exercises, ask him or her to place their mouth in the same position they did before but this time, without a Cheerio. Then, show them how to turn their voice on and produce the /v/ sound.
Exercise #2: Tuck it in
One of the most challenging parts about teaching the /v/ sound can be helping a client learn how to tuck their bottom lip under their top teeth, instead of putting their lips together, when making the sound.
When first introducing the /v/ sound, try using a gloved finger to gently put the client’s bottom lip in this spot, under the top teeth. Help him or her by holding the lip there for a second. Ask the child to then put their hand on their neck to make sure they feel the vibrations of the vocal cords as they say /v/.
Once the child is stimulable for producing the sound with your assistance, ask them to try putting their mouth in the same position on their own to make the /v/ sound.
If he or she has a little trouble, ask the child to use their own finger to tuck their bottom lip under their teeth, just as you did.
After the child masters the /v/ sound in isolation like this, he or she is ready to move on to working on it in syllables for /v/ words.
Keep in mind that you may need to probe different syllable positions to determine which one the child is most stimulable for. Some children may be more easily able to produce /v/ in the final position of syllables in /v/ words (ex: “UV”) than the initial position (ex: “VEE”) of /v/ words or vice versa.
Exercise #3: Use Motivating Online Games
Whether you’re seeing a client over teletherapy or in person, one of the best ways to motivate children to say /v/ words can be through games and technology.
Consider incorporating a web-based game that you can access from any device. During in-person sessions, you can use any laptop or tablet. And in teletherapy sessions, you can use your platform’s screen-sharing feature and if you use Theraplatform for your telehealth session, you can use their built-in apps and games to help your client say /v/ words.
Here are some of our favorites for working on the /v/ sound:
- Kokolingo (treasure hunt themed activities for working on /v/ from isolation up to sentence level)
- Vegetable Planting Game from Sid the Science Kid on PBS Kids.org
- Valentine’s Day Puzzle on ABCYa.com
- Race Car Game from PBS Kids.org (to practice car sounds, “vroom vroom.”)
- Virtual Speech Center’s articulation apps (included on TheraPlatform)
Exercise #4: Shape from the “F” Sound
If you have a client who’s struggling to produce the /v/ sound correctly, try this trick. See if the child is stimulable for the /f/ sound first.
/F/ words and /v/ words have the same articulatory placement. They are both fricative sounds, so if the child knows to put his or her top teeth on their bottom lip, gently letting some air flow out, to make the /f/ sound, they’re on their way to /v/ sounds.
Ask the child to make the /f/ sound. Next, have the child put their hand on their throat and ask them to turn their voice on, feeling the vibrations to know they’re doing it correctly. The result should be a great /v/ sound.
Continue practicing the /v/ sound, advancing to the word level as you play pretend veterinarian, cook toy vegetables, and do a volcano science experiment.
Word list for /v/
- J words
- N words
- R words
- K words
- The Ultimate Teletherapy Ebook
- Ultimate Insurance Billing Guide for Therapists
SLPs working with individuals who have articulation disorder and other communicative disorders can utilize TheraPlatform – a practice management software with teletherapy and teaching aids such as apps, games – for both in-office and teletherapy.If you own a private practice or are considering starting a private practice, you can try TheraPlatform for 30-days, risk free. No credit card required and cancel at any time.