FUNctional Phonology

Do you need some ideas for helping a toddler learn to include final consonants in words?

Here’s a sample from the TREATMENT section of my therapy manual FUNctional Phonology. Final consonants are the 6th priority for improving speech intelligibility in toddlers. (If you want to know the other 5 priorities that come first, check out the manual!)



Get yourself a good starting point to ensure early success! For most toddlers, begin with either nasal sounds /m/ or /n/ or unvoiced consonant sounds /p, t, k/ since those are easier.


Resist working on voiced final sounds like /b, d, g/ because toddlers tend to add an extra vowel such as “bed-uh” as they emphasize the sound. If you wait until a child has mastered voiceless and nasal sounds, many times voiced sounds will emerge without any focused effort from an adult.


  1. Target this pattern in the most relaxed, fun way by introducing exclamatory words in context. Don’t just practice a word list if there are other options—remember that toddlers learn best by doing! Include the words in play routines in context. My favorite exclamatory words for this goal are “yum” or “mmmm” as we eat snack foods and “boom,” “beep,” “bam,” “peep,” and “toot” as we play with vehicles and throw balls in a ball pit or against a wall.


  1. Select words with the same initial and final consonants to make including final sounds as easy as possible. Introduce familiar words for toddlers in context rather than practicing nonsense syllables that have no functional use in everyday life. Here are some ideas to get you started:


/m/ mom, ma’m


/n/ none, noon, nine, nun


/p/ pop, poop, peep


/t/ tot, toot


/k/ kick, cook, cake, Coke


Granted, some of these words are a little difficult to practice with toddlers because there aren’t as many activity options, but this just means you should focus on the words that are easier to include in everyday activities. Here are my favorites:


“Mom” is a super functional word for toddlers and if you practice it in a new context, it’s even more fun! I like to teach “Mom” to a toddler almost like an eye roll, by having Mom do silly things a toddler will recognize like putting a hat on her knee, putting a shoe on her hand, putting a sock on her head, etc.


“Pop” is another easy word to target as you play with bubbles, popping bubble wrap by stomping on it or by popping with your fingers, and balloons if you can stand the noise as you pop the balloon. Popcorn is always a popular snack for older toddlers and preschoolers with mature chewing patterns and no other feeding issues.


“Poop” is a hysterical word for many toddlers. Potty training is a primary activity for his age group, so parents should have no difficulty including this word during everyday activities.


“Tot” is a great word for establishing this pattern. I’ve had several little friends add tater tots as a new food when we practice this word—albeit not the healthiest choice!


“Toot” is fun for a boat sound. Play with several boats in the water for a longer play routine with toddlers. If a child is stimulable for “toot,” practice with direct imitation until a child is consistent, then start asking, “What does the boat say?” and giving them a boat to reward their production of “toot.”


“Cook” and “Cake” are fun target words for pretend cooking with a toy microwave, another kitchen set, or when you’re playing with Play-Doh.


These ideas work! The word lists work too because they’re selected for 3 factors:

Familiarity – These are words toddlers probably hear often at home.

Functionality – These are words that a toddler needs to be able to say and and use during everyday routines.

Phonetic Complexity – These words are easier for toddlers to pronounce.


Get your own copy of FUNctional Phonology! You’ll find TONS of activity ideas and word lists to help you improve a toddler’s speech!

Posted in


Leave a Comment

Sign Up for your Free eBook


Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Subscribe to the Podcast in iTunes

Browse Products

Featured Product

Recent Posts