Thursday, June 14, 2012

A rose by any other name... Minimal Pairs / Word Families / Rhyming Words

I was thinking about minimal pairs recently. For those of you who don't already know, speech pathologists use the term "minimal pairs" to refer to words that are exactly the same except for one phoneme. We use minimal pairs to help a child who habitually substitutes one sound for another understand why it is important to produce the target sound. If a child habitually substitutes the /t/ sound for the /k/ sound we might show them two cards: a picture of tape and a picture of a cape. Those words are exactly the same except for the beginning sound and the child would pronounce them both the same way because they substitute /t/ for /k/. Working with minimal pairs can help remediate substitution problems.

I was thinking that minimal pairs (at least the ones that contrast initial sounds) will always inherently rhyme. Rhyming is a basic phonemic awareness skill often targeted at the preschool level. Minimal pairs are also easily found in the lists of word families taught to early readers.

Whether you're working on speech, phonemic awareness skills (as part of speech or as part of pre-reading skills), or word families (as a reading or spelling exercise), picture sets organized in this fashion are useful.

And so here are some sets. I made one for -an, -ake, and -ace. I hope someone finds them to be useful. I intend to use them for final /k/ and final /s/ practice as part of our speech program and as practice in reading word families for Michael.

-an, -ake, and -ace Word Family Picture Cards


  1. Love these! Thank you for the pictures :)

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for the compliment.


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