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Teaching the /CH/ and /SH/ sounds


Well, if Hurricane Sandy is good for anything, it’s some extra time to blog! If you’re in the path of the storm, stay safe and dry!

These sounds are mastered around age 5. To teach the /sh/ and /ch/ sound, I use a lot of visual cues.  Unlike other sounds like /k/ and /g/, the /sh/ and /ch/ sounds are seen on the lips and are usually easier to visualize for most children. I often refer to the /sh/ sound as “the hush sound” (whisper sound) and the /ch/ sound as “choo-choo sound.” Here are some basic techniques I’ve found effective:

Mirror to Visualize

Some children may be substituting an /s/ sound for /ch/ and /sh/ sounds. If this is the case, the child can be taught to look in the mirror and see the difference between producing an /s/ sound (lips retracted) and a /ch/ or /sh/ sound (lips extended, pushed forward).  Once the child has grasped onto the idea of extending the lips, rather than retracting them, you can practice this sound following the hierarchy mentioned in the /k/ and /g/ post (more to come on the hierarchy).

Minimal Pairs

Once your child can visualize the difference between sounds, such as /s/ and /sh/ or /ch/, you may also need to begin to work on minimal pairs to help the child learn the difference in sound and meanings.

Click here for initial /S/ vs. /SH/ minimal pairs

Click here for initial /S/ vs. /CH/ minimal pairs

Sound Shaping

Another technique is to shape other sounds into the /sh/ and /ch/ sounds. For instance, starting with producing the /t/ sound and adding the /sh/ sound, while rapidly producing both sounds in succession, could help produce the /ch/ sound. I usually use this technique in conjunction with the mirror tip to provide a visual prompt to extend the lips, rather than retract them. Some children need extra prompting to lower their jaw to accurately produce /ch/ (/sh/ is generally a bit easier).

Auditory Bombardment

As I’ve mentioned in previous articulation posts, I love this method. Just like your child’s teacher designates a letter/sound a week and finds several ways to incorporate this new letter/sound into the classroom, SLPs often use this similar technique. If your child is struggling with these sounds, take a break from trying to produce them and instead, make this sound a part of your child’s life. Make them aware of the sound in books, games or during a family vacation. Summer or winter getaways can incorporate so many /sh/ and /ch/ sounds. You can identify vocabulary with the target sounds–shell, splash, beach, shade, etc.


If your child is still having trouble producing these sounds after implementing these techniques, talk to your Speech-Language Pathologist. He or she may have tips that are specific to your child’s articulation. As always, have fun with it!



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