How to Teach the V Sound
Today I am here to offer some tips and tricks for teaching the /v/ sound. The /V/ sound is very close to the /F/ sound. If you make the /F/ sound and turn on your voice, it becomes a /V/! The /V/ sound is part of the fricative family. That means you use your lips and your teeth to make it. Sometimes children do what is known as stopping of the /V/ sound (saying /B/ instead of /V/ like “fibe” instead of “five”).
There are several levels of teaching sounds: isolation (only the sound), at the word level (ex.”van”), in phrases (ex. “Black cat”), sentences (“I see a black van”), and finally in conversation.
This may take some time. This is normal. Try to be patient and don’t put too much pressure on your kiddo.
One of the silliest and most fun ways to practice this is to make a vvvvvvvvvrrrrrrooooooooom sound (like a car). You can take out a mirror, practice putting your lip in your teeth and then give it a try! Make sure you turn your voice on (you can touch your throat to feel whether or not your voice is on. Some kids can do the /v/ sounds right away when you do this…some cannot. If they can’t quite do it yet, don’t worry. Keep on chugging along.
Tips and tricks: 1) First… show them and tell them how to put their lip in their teeth. You might point to your throat. Another trick is to put an object or picture of an object that starts with “v” by your mouth while you model the sound. This helps to draw attention to your mouth. If they have a hard time, keep practicing, use a mirror, and be patient. 2) Next…show them how to make the voice come on. You can have them feel their throat so they can see what it is like. This is where you add in a vowel. Examples: va, ve, vi, vo, vu.
Once we’ve got isolation and syllables down, we can move to practicing in words. Some kids do better starting at the beginning of the word, some do better with the middle or end of the word. You can determine this by trying some words. I often start with kids where they are successful (this may sound backwards…but saying sounds wrong can get frustrating, so kids are excited when they get them right). In speech therapy, we call this “stimulability” (if a child is “stimulable” for a sound….they are saying it right! yay!).
Each of these word lists has 20 words….that means if you practice 5 times, you will have said your sound 100 times, which is great!
Beginning Words (initial position)
Initial V: visor, vet, vegetables, vest, volleyball, vacuum, vase, volcano, violet, vacation, violin, vanilla, viper, vehicles, velcro, video, venus, valentine, vulture, visit
Middle Words (medial position)
Medial V: avocado, river, fever, DVD, driver, invite, nervous, travel, shovel, oven, clover, movie, curvy, cover, November, heavy, level, ravens, diver, beaver
Ending Words (final position)
Final V: love, stove, hive, five, sleeve, drive, wave, olive, shave, cave, move, give, have, microwave, above, carve, weave, leave, glove, alive
Once you figure out which of these positions is easiest, practice those words. You can model the sounds for your child, emphasizing the parts with /v/ in them…cheering for them if they get it right, but not scolding them if they get it wrong.
Once your child has mastered the word level (consistently getting 15-20 words correct at least 75% of the time), you can try some phrases/sentences.
I like to use this visual set to cue the part(s) of the word we are targeting.
We can sometimes use the same sentence to practice lots of words:
Example: I see a _____. (five, stove, microwave, shave, olive, etc.)
Or you can make up sentences for each word.
Again, make your /v/ sounds louder (we call this exaggerated modeling…five), encourage your child, but don’t scold. Also, don’t do this practice all day every day….just a few minutes here and there is fine. We don’t want kids to become sensitive about their speech.
This can be used from the start in modeling of your own /v/ sounds in your conversation (for a few minutes here and there). Once a child has consistently mastered sentences (75% or more correct), you can start providing gentle reminders in conversation. “Don’t forget your /v/ sound”, “oops, I think you meant “vet”…right?” Don’t stress your child out….but remind them gently (some of the time).
One of the best ways to model the /v/ sound is by reading stories. You can read stories to your child that have a lot of /ch/ sounds in them and exaggerate that sound for them while you read. Here are some examples of books that have /v/ in them frequently. If your child is old enough to read, you can practice with them reading too!
The Very Busy Spider by Eric Carl
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl
Vegetables by Nancy Dickmann
Here is a video of The Very Hungry Caterpillar read by Eric Carle. (note, this was for “fun” and storytime…and he did not use exaggerated modeling in this video):
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