Speech and Language games and the butterfly technique

Bringing awareness of how we use our lips, jaw, tongue and breathing to create sounds is important, as we often don’t think about it. However, if you struggle to create a specific sound, there may be ways to help manipulate that sound by altering our oral positioning. This is called the ‘Phonemic position’. It all sounds rather technical, but it’s just changing the way we move our mouth to create a better sound.

Let’s try that theory… and have fun at the same time!

Speech games 

These games highlight how we can manipulate our speech sounds on purpose.

  • Count to 10 WITHOUT moving your tongue. What did you sound like?

  • Say the alphabet WITHOUT moving your lips. Was it easy?

  • Count for as long as possible WITHOUT taking a breath. What do you notice happens to your voice?

  • Pout your lips as much as possible and say your full name out loud! Why do you think it sounds so different? 

I have made a fool of myself many times in front of students when demonstrating these games. It’s necessary to give it a go yourself so that they feel at ease. It’s all about having fun and feeling relaxed whilst learning.

In everyday life, it's important to always listen to WHAT a person is saying to you and not HOW they are saying it! The confidence it takes to communicate and the value of being listened to is vital to a person's general well-being. 

Butterfly and Speech techniques

Speech and language therapists use lots of different techniques to help placement of your tongue during speech. The Butterfly technique is one that I used when I was working in schools to help students create the /s/ and /z/ sound properly. Having a visual representation of a butterfly, made it easier to describe what I wanted the child to do.

Think of your tongue like a butterfly. The centre part is the body and the sides are the wings.



When doing this with a child, maybe you could create a butterfly with pipe cleaners? Then you can demonstrate the tongue position with the structure as a visual representation.

Also, you should always have a mirror to hand so that the child can see what they are doing, especially if you want them to practice later on.

When you say ‘i’ as in ‘tin’ notice how the sides of your tongue - or the wings of the butterfly- are raised, although still slightly in contact with your teeth. It’s hard to read this without giving it a go!

You will also notice that the centre of your tongue is slightly dipped. This is the body of your butterfly.

When producing the /s/ or /z/ sound the air must flow over the body of your butterfly, the central core of your tongue. The tip of the tongue will touch your front teeth and the wings slightly raised.

Find some more information about the Butterfly technique here.

A Speech and Language Therapist (SALT) will be able to teach your child different methods if they have difficulty producing individual sounds. What works for one may not necessarily work for another, so therapists are highly adaptable.


Try FREE English, maths and science worksheets with accessibility features here


How can EdPlace help?

We understand that having any learning difference can have an effect on your child's mental health, and therefore how important it is to ensure that your child is set achievable and differentiated activities, to promote and encourage engagement and confidence. Having fun whilst completing interactive activities which are curriculum aligned, is key to progress and personal achievement. On EdPlace, parents and teachers can set bespoke and individually motivating rewards and assign tasks that are appropriately levelled to the child's ability. 


How can I get help?

If you have any concerns about your child’s speech, language and communication you must contact your GP and school SENCo. They will refer you to the Speech and Language Therapy service for assessment if they feel it necessary.

Read more of EdPlace's SEND expert, Mandy's blog posts for fun, simple and resource-free SEND related games

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