These documents offer naturalistic play activities that provide multiple opportunities for practicing the ten most complex English clusters: /θr-/, /fl-/, /fr-/, /sl-/, /ʃr-/, /str-/, /skr-/, /spr-/, /skw-/ and /spl-/. Research has demonstrated that teaching complex clusters leads to global changes for children with phonological disorders (Gierut & Champion, 2001; Gierut, 2007). SLPs can find supporting resources on SLPath for cluster treatment. In particular, please note that studies have suggested that three-element clusters (i.e., /skr-/, /spr-/, /str-/, /spl-/, /skw-/) should only be taught if the child has the second and third consonants in his/her phonemic inventory. For example, if treatment targets /skr-/, the child should already have /k/ and /r/ in his/her phonemic inventory. (No previous knowledge of /s/ is required.) For more information about these principles and references, please visit the Sonority Sequencing Principle for Clusters page.

If the child's phonemic inventory does not permit targeting three-element clusters, the next most powerful targets include complex two-element clusters (i.e., /θr-/, /fl-/, /fr-/, /sl-/, /ʃr-/). Studies have demonstrated that these two-element clusters also lead to significant changes for treated and untreated sounds. Furthermore, if treatment targets /θr-/, /fl-/, /fr-/, /sl-/, /ʃr-/, the child does not need to know either sound prior to treatment. For example, if /fl-/ is treated, previous knowledge of /f/ or /l/ is not required. For more information on choosing ideal treatment targets and references, please visit the Phonological Assessment & Treatment Targets page.

Cluster-Specific Activities

The following pages feature activities for specific clusters and suggested treatment words (shown in italics). Many activities may also work for other cluster targets. For example, "fling" and "flung" could be targets instead of "throw" and "threw." Additionally, it should be noted that targets with word-final affricates (e.g., scratch) and liquids (e.g., square) were avoided because these sounds are frequently missing from the sound inventories of children with phonological disorders.

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