Comprehensive Vocalic R Words List for Speech Therapy
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While one of the most common sounds in the English language, the vocalic /r/ can be challenging to pronounce.
This can be because it’s hard to understand what is happening with the mouth when it’s pronounced, it requires better muscle control and appears alongside vowels, requiring additional articulation skills.
If your child struggles with this sound, they may substitute the /r/ sound with /w/, saying ‘fair-wee’ instead of ‘fairy’ or ‘here-wo’ instead of ‘hero’. As a result, they can appear younger than their peers and struggle to communicate effectively.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on the /vocalic /r/ sound and sharing a list of /r/ words, phrases, and sentences that you can use in home speech therapy or as a resource to support your professional speech therapy practice.
You’ll also learn which fun games and activities can provide extra practice, discover how to pronounce the sound effectively, and how the patented Forbrain headset can help.
Word list: Vocalic /r/ word list
Improving your child’s pronunciation of the vocalic /r/ sound at home can feel like a daunting task because of the many variations of this sound.
However, if you can help them understand where this sound appears in real-life language and give them plenty of varied practice, you will soon see a difference.
To help you out, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the most common vocalic /r/ sounds used in English. This includes words where this sound appears in the middle (medial vocalic /r/) or end (final vocalic /r/) of the word.
Use this list as an easy reference or encourage your child to read through them for extra practice.
What is the vocalic /r/ sound?
Before we introduce the list of words, let’s take a quick look at what this sound is.
The vocalic /r/ sound is a type of /r/ that happens when the letter appears after one of the vowels; a, e, i, o, and u.
For example, the /r/ at the beginning of the word ‘ripe’ is pronounced differently from the /r/ that appears at the end of the word ‘pour’.
There are six of these combinations in English:
- [-ar] as in the word STAR
- [-er] as in the word GIRL
- [-air] as in the word FAIRY
- [-ear] as in the word FEAR
- [-or] as in the word SWORD
- [-ire] as in the word FIRE
Further vocalic /r/ sound practice using short phrases and sentences
Your child should now be able to pronounce the vocalic /r/ sound in isolation, even if it does take a certain amount of effort and focus. The key to actually mastering this sound is to provide them with plenty of practice, using the word lists we provided above and then moving on to short phrases and eventually sentences.
By doing so, their fluency will significantly improve, they’ll grow in confidence and they’ll also learn how to use their new skills to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts.
Here’s a short home speech therapy program to help you do exactly this, recommended by the team of experts at Forbrain.
- Check that your child is articulating the vocalic /r/ sound correctly by working through the wordlist we shared earlier. If not, repeat the articulation exercises until they are reasonably comfortable.
- Next, use carrier phrases to encourage them to use these words in real-life contexts.
- Practice using short phrases and sentences for the vocalic /r/ sound.
- Play child-friendly games and activities and read with your child
- Perfect their skills using our easy-to-use, scientifically proven Forbrain headset.
If you want to help your child use these vocalic /r/ words in everyday contexts and get plenty of practice, carrier phrases should be your go-to- speech therapy tool. Just choose a phrase, insert a vocalic /r/ word then practice saying it aloud.
Considering that there are six variations of the vocalic /r/ sound, we recommend that you practice with at least three words from each category in the word list.
Here are some of our favorite carrier phrases:
- “I see a…”
- “I found a…”
- “I want a…”
- “He found a…”
- “She found a…”
- “I have a…”
- “He has a…”
- “She has a…”
- “I like to…”
- “He likes to…”
Put into practice, it looks like this:
- “I want POPCORN”
- “I like VAMPIRES
- “She has a SPIDER”
- “I see a MARBLE”
- “I found a STAR”
- “He has CEREAL”
Short phrases for the vocalic /r/ sound
Keep reading to find useful short phrases that include the vocalic /r/ sound in the middle or the end of the word.
Use these with your child for extra practice and you’ll help them further improve their pronunciation of the /r/ sound.
|Short Phrases: Vocalic /-ar/ Sound||Short Phrases: Vocalic /-er/ Sound||Short Phrases: Vocalic /-air/ Sound|
|shiny star||cute girl||wooden chair|
|alarm clock||dirty germs||long hair|
|fast car||learn math||hungry bear|
|dark night||hurt finger||beware of the dog|
|loud bark||tall ladder||home care|
|red heart||first place||state fair|
|big yard||shovel dirt||scary nightmare|
|museum art||family dinner||tasty pear|
|shuffle cards||big spider||nice to share|
|old farm||big purse||new sheriff|
|glass marble||white paper||square cake|
|white garlic||butter popcorn||married couple|
|start running||tasty turkey||happy parents|
|old garbage||classroom teacher||pretty fairy|
|Short Phrases: Vocalic /-ear/ Sound||Short Phrases: Vocalic /-or/ Sound||Short Phrases: Vocalic /-ire/ Sound|
|long pier||four cars||admire her|
|bushy beard||fast horse||big liar|
|clear ocean||new story||very tired|
|loud cheer||bored student||scary vampire|
|new year||front door||roaring fire|
|weird hat||wood floor||barb wire|
|crystal chandelier||thick forest||pretty sapphire|
|bowl of cereal||loud horn||roaring fire|
|small hearing aid||yellow corn||clothes dryer|
|garden shears||butter popcorn||new hire|
|long spear||play sports||visit Ireland|
|near the window||rain storm||home buyer|
|steer clear||ocean shore||church choir|
|school cafeteria||pour water||brave fireman|
Short sentences for the vocalic /r/ sound
Let’s now take it up a level and start practicing those longer sentences that help further boost confidence, and fluency, and help your child use this sound comfortably in real-world contexts.
As before, these include the vocalic /r/ sound in the middle and the end of the word.
|Short Sentences: Vocalic /-ar/ Sound||Short Sentences: Vocalic /-er/ Sound||Short Sentences: Vocalic /-air/|
|The dog’s bark is scary||I like butter on my toast||She has long, pretty hair|
|He is holding a red heart||He won first place||I had a nightmare yesterday|
|The star was shining bright||They sat down for a family dinner||Can I have a bite of your pear?|
|She was at the start of the race||Germs are growing on the dishes||The bear was hunting for food|
|My food needs garlic||The girl is pretty||They had fun at the fair|
|It was dark, but the moon was out||The little boy hurt his finger||They love being parents|
|I found a marble on the floor||They are both learning math||It is nice to share your ice cream|
|The car is fast||Please find a new piece of paper||A square has four sides|
|We will play a game with cards||She takes her purse everywhere||Be careful- don’t tear the paper|
|She visited her grandparents on the farm||She is wearing her favorite skirt||The sign says beware of the dog|
|The guard watched the hallway||I need to stir the soup||Robert sat down on the chair|
|I work in my yard||A turkey sounds funny when it gobbles||Why should I care?|
|I want to see your art||Use the ladder to reach the fruit||The fairy has a magic wand|
|Take the garbage out today||He combed the dog’s fur||The nightmare was scary|
|She has played the harp for years||He had a shovel full of dirt||I picked a tasty pear from the tree|
|I have many different colors of yarn||The spider spun a beautiful web||There is a new sheriff in town|
|He pushed the button on the alarm||She whispered into the girl’s ear||He visited the state fair|
|The soldiers in the army stood to attention||The classroom teacher is kind to me||I told you to beware!|
|Short Sentences: Vocalic /-ear/ Sound||Short Sentences: Vocalic /-or/ Sound||Short Sentences: Vocalic /-ire/ Sound|
|The ocean is clear and beautiful||She was bored of watching television||The fire kept us warm|
|Everyone loves my crystal chandelier||The horse is running fast||Her mom thought she was a liar|
|He is thinking of cutting his beard||Can I pour you a glass of water?||We are going on vacation to Ireland|
|We walked to the end of the pier||There was a big hail storm||Cut the wire with pliers|
|The people are near each other||Mom read them a story||She is tired from working hard|
|The statue is holding a spear||It is my favorite toy store||The necklace has a sapphire in it|
|He is acting weird||The horn is gold and shiny||He wants to hire a new worker|
|It’s almost the end of the school year||We are having corn for dinner||We saw a vampire in the haunted house|
|She will steer in the right direction||She knocked on the door||The boy admires his dad|
|He has earrings in his ear||I spilled water on the floor||They toasted marshmallows on the campfire|
|I checked the rearview mirror||The chorus sang beautifully||She put the clothes in the dryer|
|There are pyramids in the desert||The forest is full of trees||The fence had barbed wire on it|
|She is cutting the bush with shears||He will be four in April||The choir loves to perform|
|He bought a souvenir||Let’s eat popcorn on movie night||They got a first-time buyer on their home|
|He will steer in the right direction||The tornado did a lot of damage||The Empire State Building is in New York City|
|Everybody cheered when she won||The shorts were on sale||The fireman was very brave|
|Cereal is delicious for breakfast||He is going to eat the orange||They handed out fliers to find their dog|
|The cashier is working hard||You can play many sports||The umpire called a strike|
Games & Activities with Vocalic /r/ Sound Words
The best way to learn anything is to make it fun! That’s why playing games and activities with your child is an excellent way to master those tricky speech sounds.
By doing so, they’ll also grow in confidence and be more likely to want to keep practicing the vocalic /r/ sound.
Below are some excellent vocalic /r/ sound games and activities that are sure to tick all the boxes and are ideal for use with the patented Forbrain headset.
Play the Roar! Game
The easiest way to practice that vocalic /r/ sound is to encourage your child to roar like a lion. If you can, find a fun picture of a lion and together, produce an exaggerated /r/ sound then repeat as many times as you like.
Play the Pretty Parrot Game
This game encourages your child to repeat the sound that they hear. Find a picture of a parrot or even a stuffed toy then place it in front of you. Next, print the list of vocalic /r/ words and cut them out so they become flashcards.
Hold the cards in your hand and ask your child to pull one from the stack. If your child can’t read the word yet, read it for them and then encourage them to repeat it after you. Every time they get the word right, give them a small reward.
Play the Lucky Dip Game
If you have the resources available, playing the Lucky Dip game can be a fun way to reinforce their learning and encourage accurate pronunciation.
Find a box or basket and fill it with items that include the vocalic /r/ sound (check the word list above for ideas), or find free images online and print them out.
Then cover the box or basket and encourage your child to put their hand inside and pull out an item or picture. When they pull an item or image, encourage them to name it, using the carrier phrase, “I found a [insert word]”.
There’s perhaps no better way to improve overall language skills, spark your child’s imagination and strengthen your parent-child bond than reading a good book with your child.
Find books that include the vocalic /r/ sound and you’ll reinforce the home speech therapy you’ve been doing and have fun at the same time.
Read the books in our recommended vocalic /r/ sound list and encourage your child to repeat every /r/ word you come across for the best effect.
- Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt
- We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
- Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
- Clark The Shark by Bruce Hale
- Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
How to Pronounce the Vocalic /r/ Sounds
Understanding the difference between the ‘normal’ /r/ sound and the vocalic /r/ sound can be tricky because they often appear to be the same sound.
However, to teach others how to articulate this sound correctly, we need to start by checking what happens with our mouth, airflow, tongue position, teeth alignment, and vocal cords beforehand.
The vocalic /r/ sound is a voiced sound made primarily by lifting your tongue back and up allowing it to move towards the roof of your mouth. Then the air should pass from your lungs, and over your tongue while you allow your vocal cords to vibrate.
Here is more specific guidance.
Pronouncing the vocalic /r/ sound
Let’s choose one of the words we shared in the /r/ word list above such as ‘dark’ then practice saying it aloud, repeating it several times.
As you do so, pay close attention to the shape of your mouth and lips, where your tongue is positioned, how the air flows from your lungs, and whether your vocal cords are vibrating or not.
You’ll see that your vocal cords are indeed vibrating, your tongue is pulled back and towards the roof of your mouth, your lips are slightly rounded and the air passes through your mouth and lightly over your tongue.
Additionally, you’ll see just why it can be so hard for children to articulate this sound. Not only do they need to have excellent control over their tongue position, lips, and airflow but it’s very difficult to see how the sound is made from the outside.
Despite this fact, most children can master this sound anywhere between three and nine years of age after they have mastered the ‘normal’ /r/ sound. If problems do occur, it’s usually because it’s difficult to transition from these vowel sounds to the /r/, and with practice, it can soon be fixed.
Work through the vocalic /r/ sound list, phrases, sentences, games, and activities, read together, and use the patented Forbrain headset and your child will get the practice they need and have fun doing it.
How to help your child produce the vocalic /r/ sound correctly
Ready to help your child get to grips with the vocalic /r/ sound? Follow these steps:
1) Ask your child to relax their tongue. You can encourage them to stick it out as far as they can and wiggle it around like a snake, ask them to blow a whistle, or try touching their nose with their tongue.
2) Then ask them to find the back of their tongue and ask them to lift it to the roof of their mouth. You can tell them to imagine they are catching a fairy with their tongue if they need extra encouragement.
3) Finally, ask them to push air from their lungs and use their vocal cords to say the word ‘fairy’.
If they still find this difficult, keep practicing until they master how to articulate the sound. You can also watch this excellent video by The Speech Scoop for extra speech therapy help.
Using Forbrain to Upgrade Sound Practice
Enhance your child’s learning and mastery of the tricky vocalic /r/ sound by using our patented Forbrain headset.
Used for just 10 minutes per day, your child will learn how to distinguish the sound, get instant feedback from the enhanced auditory feedback loop, and get the targeted practice they need to overcome speech challenges and grow in confidence.
Scientifically proven and widely used by professional speech therapists, it uses cutting-edge technology and an innovative design to optimize learning, stimulate neural pathways, finely tune pronunciation, and sharpen articulation for effective, natural communication.
Unlock your child’s potential with Forbrain today.
If your child is struggling to pronounce the vocalic /r/ word, don’t worry. Use the list of vocalic /r/ words, phrases, and sentences alongside the patented Forbrain headset and you’ll soon see a huge improvement.
Reinforce their learning and make it fun by using games, activities, and books to help your child can improve their articulation, grow in confidence, and effortlessly use this tricky sound in everyday spoken language.