How to Teach the F Sound
Today I am here to offer some tips and tricks for teaching the /f/ sound. The /f/ sound is very close to the /v/ sound…if you turn off your voice, a /v/ becomes an /f/! The /f/ 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 /F/ sound (saying /p/ instead of /f/…..like “pour” in stead of “four”).
There are several levels of teaching sounds: isolation (only the sound), at the word level (ex.”fan”), in phrases (ex. “black fan”), 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 ffffffffffffffffff sound (like a hissing cat). 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 /f/ sound 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 and tell them to make sure their voice is “off”. Another trick is to put an object or picture of an object that starts with “f” 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 air come out You can have them feel their airflow or your airflow so they can see what it is like. This is where you add in a vowel. Examples: fa, fe, fi, fo, fu.
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 F: fish, food, feet, fever, five, face, fairy, fan, fetch, fire, feather, father, fox, far, fast, four, finger, phone, farm, fork
For the /f/ phoneme in the initial word position, you can find an auditory bombardment list of words (approximately 3 minutes) here:
I’ve created a one page resource that you can download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store to use for yourself and for your clients. Click here to download.
Middle Words (medial position)
Medial F: offer, goofy, golfer, gopher, fluffy, office, coffee, sofa, raffle, elephant, muffin, telephone, lifeguard, playful, buffalo, different, breakfast, traffic, waffle, laughing
For the /f/ phoneme in the medial word position, you can find an auditory bombardment list of words (approximately 3 minutes) here:
Ending Words (final position)
Final F: off, sniff, cough, wolf, chief, giraffe, surf, wife, golf, roof, calf, if, goof, fluff, shelf, self, laugh, tough, half
For the /f/ phoneme in the final word position, you can find an auditory bombardment list of words (approximately 3 minutes) here:
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 /F/ 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 which part of the word we are targeting.
We can sometimes use the same sentence to practice lots of words:
Example: I see a _____. (four, shelf, fox, etc.)
Or you can make up sentences for each word.
Again, make your /f/ sounds louder (we call this exaggerated modeling…Four), 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 /f/ 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 /f/ sound”, “oops, I think you meant “farm”…right?” Don’t stress your child out….but remind them gently (some of the time).
One of the best ways to model the /f/ sound is by reading stories. You can read stories to your child that have a lot of /f/ sounds in them and exaggerate that sound for them while you read. Here are some examples of books that have /f/ in them frequently. If your child is old enough to read, you can practice with them reading too!
One Fish, Two Fish by Dr Seuss
The Foot Book by Dr Seuss
The Gingerbread Man by Addison-Wesley (Run Run…as Fast as you can…)
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
3 Little Pigs by James Marshall (Huff and Puff)
5 Little Ducks by James Dean
Here is a video of Five Little Ducks read by James Dean. (note, this was for “fun” and storytime…and he did not use exaggerated modeling in this video):
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