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Initial R Activities for Speech Therapy (Tic Tac Toe Game!)

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Initial R Activities: Tic Tac Toe Activity

Welcome to our hub of Initial R Activities for speech therapy! If you are a teacher, therapist or caregiver looking for new resource types to add to your therapy sessions, then you have come to the right place. 

In this blog post, we will cover some quick tips for practicing the Initial R sound with your student, review the classic game of tic tac toe and why it is one of our favorite speech therapy games, and also provide a list of 40 free resources for you to start working on the articulation skills for Initial R today! 

To help make your next Initial R therapy sessions a little easier, we have also included a free preview of our highly rated articulation tic tac toe boards for Initial R! Enter your name and email in the info box at the bottom of this blog post to have our Initial R tic-tac-toe game emailed right to you! 

Key Takeaways

  • The Initial R sound requires the correct tongue position
  • Incorporating R articulation practice into Tic Tac Toe aids speech development because it encourages frequent use of the R sound.
  • Use our list of over 40 Initial R activities to make your therapy sessions effective and fun.

Correct Production

In the English language the r sound is one of the most difficult sounds as well as one of the last sounds to develop. There are two different ways a speech-language pathologist can teach tongue placement for r remediation. 

First, let’s review the two different variations for tongue movements for producing the r sound:

  • Retroflexed R
  • Bunched R

The two different tongue positions are very similar and vary in mid-tongue and tongue tip placements:

  • Teeth: The /r/ sound is made by having a slight gap between the teeth.
  • Lips: Lips should be in a neutral position and not rounded. (A rounded lip shape might lead to a /w/ in place of an /r/ sound, such as “wed” for the word “red”.
  • Sides of the Tongue: Be sure to place the sides of the tongue against the upper side of your teeth to allow for the passage of air to go down the center of the tongue.
  • Tongue Placement:
    • Retroflexed Tongue Position: Have the mid-tongue somewhat tense but not bunched up. Then place the tip of the tongue pointing up just past the alveolar ridge.
    • Bunched Tongue Position: Have the mid-tongue bunched up near the roof of the mouth. Then place the tip of the tongue pointing down or straight.
  • Air: Then blow a skinny stream of air over the center of your tongue (you do not want the air to come out the sides of the tongue).
  • Voice: The r sound is also a voiced sound so your voice box or vocal cords should vibrate. You can tell that their voice is turned on by touching your voice box on your neck and feeling it vibrate.

R Speech Sounds

  • Prevocalic R – is when the r sound comes before a vowel sound, such as an initial r word “red”. 
  • Vocalic R – s when the r sound comes after a vowel sound, such as: or, ar, er, ear, ire, air.

For You! Here is our list of 43+ R Speech Activities! This list has ideas for practicing r articulation in all positions and are some of the highest rated freebies to practice your students articulation skills.


Target Word List – List of Functional Words

If you are in need of a master list of R words at initial, medial and final position then we have you covered! See full list of 1220+ R words at the word level, phrase level, and sentence level here. To practice R words in all positions and track student progress, download our interactive activity! The interactive version of our R words Freebie has students practice 20 R words with pictures at word, phrase and sentence level. 

Correct Production – Effective R Therapy

Do you have any r kids who are struggling with the incorrect production of the r sound? 

If so, here are a handful of new strategies that therapists have had great success with helping their speech students produce the tricky sound of R. 

Start with one simple program below and if that doesn’t work you can keep working through the different strategies until you find one that your student finds success with.

You can even grab a tongue depressor to use as a tactile cue to help correct speech errors.


Articulation Tic Tac Toe Game for Speech Therapy 

Tic Tac Toe is not just a classic game for young learners; it’s a versatile tool that we can adapt to various educational and therapeutic contexts. Let’s explore how we can use a tic tac toe board to support speech, occupational, and physical therapy objectives!

In our speech therapy sessions, Articulation Tic Tac Toe can be an engaging way to practice speech sounds. We design the game with a focus on specific articulation goals, involving speech sounds that the learner is working to master. Each square on the Tic Tac Toe grid features a word that includes the target sound, and every time a player claims a square, they articulate that word. For example:

​Room​Rest ​Race

During the game, we can provide immediate feedback, which reinforces correct pronunciation and supports the learner’s development. This method can be applied effectively both in professional therapy sessions and as an interactive home activity, promoting continuous learning and practice.

We are excited for you to check out our free preview of our Articulation Tic Tac Toe (All Sounds!) Game Boards! The Initial R Tic-Tac-Toe boards are engaging and provide fun practice for articulation.  

Occupational and Physical Therapy

Tic Tac Toe seamlessly integrates into occupational therapy and physical therapy sessions. We can use the game to improve fine motor skills by having learners engage in physical actions to mark their spots on the grid, such as:

  • Picking up and placing small objects
  • Drawing Xs or Os with correct pencil grip
  • Using stamps or stickers to claim squares
  • Practicing turn taking between the first player and the second

Each action can be adapted to the current therapeutic goals of the individual, ensuring a personalized session that targets their specific needs. As an interactive activity, it can also foster social skills and turn-taking in a group therapy session or a playful home-learning scenario.

For physical therapy purposes, we can increase the scale of the game, creating a life-size board where patients need to walk or perform particular movements to claim their spot, furthering their range of motion and physical capabilities. By gamifying therapy objectives, Tic Tac Toe makes the process more enjoyable and less strenuous for participants.

SEE ALSO: 21 Best Reinforcement Games for Speech Therapy

Initial R Activities

Tic Tac Toe is a great game to play to practice Initial R articulation, but we know that there are so many other ways to provide fun practice for the Initial position of R. 

To help take some of the planning off your shoulders for your therapy sessions, we have collected a list of 40 Initial R Activities! Just hit the direct link to grab these resources!


Articulation Games

Articulation games have always been a favorite in our speech therapy sessions. They make the learning process engaging and fun! 

  1. Speech Battle Game – NO PREP Articulation Activity Initial R Older Students FREE by The Speech Boat is an arctic attack themed game! Move game pieces around the game mats and practice initial r.
  2. Robot Race: Articulation Game for Initial /r/ by Alissa Backburn is a great option for easy game – play! Print out this games sheets and move objects forward as you practice initial r articulation with a fun robot theme!
  3. FREEBIE: ARTIC BOXES game for initial and vocalic R Articulation Therapy by LyndaSLP123 is a highly rated game! Students get their own board game mat. This has a print option!
  4. I SPY Initial R Worksheets by Speech Therapy Store is a compilation of r articulation resources for you as well as a bundle of engaging and clear I SPY Worksheets that we created for you! Click the link and then scroll to the bottom of the blog post for your download!

PRO TIP! We love original and creative articulation games, but there is also something to be said about the classics! At our Speech Therapy Store Shop, you will find articulation bundles to go with classic games such as our  Articulation Apple to Apple Game, Articulation Connect Four, and Articulation Bingo! Check them out!

​Flash Cards

By using an Initial R articulation flashcard, you can provide plenty of drill practice or get creative with some flash card games!

  1. Articulation Labels R-Blend Initial Position – for craftivities & flashcards by Thumb Bunny Speech is a clear and engaging set of flashcards with craft ideas associated!
  2. Initial R/W Minimal Pair Flashcards by Karina Janiaro is a pdf of initial r/w minimal pair flashcards.
  3. Initial R Flashcards – Basketball Themed by SLP in SF is a fun set of r articulation and language flashcards with a basketball/NBA theme! 

BONUS! Here is a direct link to our digital R Flashcards! These flashcards practice R in all positions with a picture, word, phrase, sentence and a WH Question! Use the links at the top of the blog post to help navigate this extension R Words post. 


Interactive Games

If you are looking for interactive material to practice Initial R, then check out these resources! Many of them use google slides. We suggest downloading the latest version of google chrome or make sure you are using modern browsers so that these digital activities work efficiently for you!

  1. Articulation Memory Games- Initial R by Dick and Jane Go Digital is a highly rated interactive memory style game! This game provides instant feedback and includes r blends – br, gr, kr etc!
  2. FREE Interactive Fidget Popper R Sound Initial Medley Articulation Game by Cytryn Speech is a virtual fidget popper that prompts students to practice their initial r articulation!
  3. Web Wars! Internet Game for Articulation of Initial /r/ by Sudde-tely SLP is a highly rated internet game that prompts initial r with articulation target pictures with a fun form of play game!

SEE ALSO: Free Articulation Games for Speech Therapy

Boom Cards

​Put your boom learning account to good use with these highly rated boom cards! 

  1. Articulation /R/ Boom Cards Game for Speech Therapy | Freebie by Busy Bee Studio is a highly rated set of self-grading boom cards that will be engaging and fun for your students!
  2. Flashlight Search I Spy Articulation Boom Cards™ R Initial FREE Sample by In Unison Speech Therapy is a set of boom cards for in person or virtual practice. Students love the flashlight and space theme!
  3. R Articulation (initial) – Chase the Cheese Boom Cards™ by Cat got your Tongue is a popular initial r boom card game that is funny and engaging for elementary aged students.

Word Lists 

Word lists often provide articulation practice for a comprehensive k-12 caseload. Check out these initial r targeted words to practice articulation.

  1. Initial/Beginning /R/ Words by Syllables – Phoneme Word List by Spectacular Speech is a clear set of initial r words divided by syllables. 
  2. Spanish Speech Therapy – Articulation Word Lists for Speech Therapy by Speech Therapy is Beautiful is a list of Spanish words for initial r practice!
  3. Summer Themed Articulation Word Lists by Coming up Roses is a set of initial r articulation and language flash card with a summer theme!

BONUS: Visit our blog for an extensive list of articulation word lists and flashcards, as well as articulation freebies! Here are the highly rated R Word Blog Posts!

​Younger Students

​Early intervention and a correct first exposure to initial r articulation will build a solid foundation for your students. Here are some of our favorite resources for younger students!

  1. /r/ Articulation BINGO game/coloring – prevocalic/initial – Speech Therapy by Taylor Baron is a set of clear and engaging bingo game mats for your younger students to color than play on!
  2. Speech Therapy Craft: Pop Up Dragons and Princesses (Mini R Blends Unit) by Texas Speech Mom is an engaging and fun craft! Students create a pop up story craft as they practice initial r blends including vocalic r – ar.
  3. Monster Speech and Language Bracelets FREEBIE by Fun in Speech is a fun printable for students to color and wear as a bracelet as they practice their target initial r sounds! This includes the whole alphabet so it is a large thumbnail, but will be used often!

Older Students

If you are looking for assignment options for middle school and high school, then check out these resources! 

  1. SPEECH-ZEE An Articulation Dice Game FREEBIE (game companion) by Panda Speech is a companion to a popular dice game for older students to practice initial r articulation!
  2. Initial /r/ Word Search – Free by The Simple Speecher is an initial r word search created for high school students!
  3. [Freebie] Initial & Vocalic R Boom Cards for Older Students by Fun and Functional is a boom card set with real life pictures created with older students in mind. 
  4. Prevocalic R Dot to Dot Game by Speech Therapy Store is a highly rated printable! Have students work in pairs or play one on one with with them! This post has a list of over 400 prevocalic r words at word, phrase and sentence level and a free download of the game at the bottom.

Sentence and Conversational Level

Moving from word to sentence levels is an important step in articulation progress. Here are a few resources we like to use when practicing Initial R at sentence or conversational levels!

  1. Free Initial /R/ Scene for Sentences and Phrases – Articulation by Cat Says Meow is a picture scene that prompts practice of initial r at sentence and phrase levels! 
  2. SPRING INITIAL R SENTENCE LEVEL ACTIVITY FOR SPEECH THERAPY by Honey Bee Speech Therapy is an engaging activity with clear pictures that prompt students to practice initial r at sentence level. 
  3. R Articulation Cards for Speech Therapy Activities & Drill Sheets – FREE! by Ashley Rossi is a great freebie to download and put on a ring set. Each card prompts the student to practice initial r from word to sentence level.

For You! Grab our Articulation Reading Passages to practice your articulation goals with your students! This is a bundle of 266 reading passages with 6 stories per sound, and 20 articulation words per passage. 

Ready to Go Worksheets

If you are on a time crunch, we got you! Here are some digital files to download, print and go for your speech sessions! 

  1. Freebie! R Sound Articulation Game: Hexagon Tile Connect for Speech Therapy by HarreSLP is a great print and go game that has lots of target r words! 
  2. Prevocalic /r/ Battleship by The Styled Speechie is a quick worksheet to print out and use in conjunction with a battleship game!
  3. R Articulation Word Searches by Speech Therapy Store is a comprehensive review of R articulation and a free printable of word searches that are easy to download, print and go! Print in color or black and white!
  4. Articulation Quick Packs FREEBIE: Initial R  is a bundle in initial r activities that are easy to print and play! This is great for group work and younger students!

Seasonal Activities

Incorporating seasonal activities into our therapy sessions helps the student engage and we love using them! Here are some highly rated seasonal activities to practice initial r articulation. Also, check out all the seasonal activities we have prepared for you on our Speech Therapy Store Shop! 

  1. Spring Articulation Pack /S,R,L/- Speech Therapy by Shelley SLP is a packet of to practice initial r with a spring theme!
  2. Batty About Speech – R sound Free Sample by Peachie Speechie is a fall/Halloween themed craft for the r sound!
  3. FREE Summer Articulation Cards: Prevocalic R & Initial R Blends by The Speech Spot Creations is a highly rated set of flashcards with a summer theme!

SEE ALSO: 279+ Free Speech Therapy Digital Materials

Reinforcement Games

​Here are some of our favorite reinforcement games for initial R!

  1. Hungry Hungry Hippos Articulation-/R/ Initial by Kaitlyn Swegar is an engaging and fun set of cards that prompt high frequency production of initial r. 
  2. Articulation Cards for Speech Therapy BOOM CARDS™ R Initial FREEBIE by Stacey Crouse is a boom card set that hits multiple productions of initial r but is always super engaging and fun for your students! 
  3. Jurassic Speech™ Dinosaur Articulation Worksheet by Peachie Speechie is an articulation and language activity that is highly rated and is really fun for your elementary aged students!

Independent Work/Send Home

Here are some highly rated resources to use either as send home activities or just as independent work!

  1. Initial R and S Blends Word Searches | Speech Therapy Homework, Group Activities by Encouraging Communication is a set of simple word searches for students to practice r articulation at home!
  2. R Initial Words – Articulation Therapy FREEBIE (Print & Go) by slpsmartdotcom- Eli Lowham is a clear and easy to print pdf to send home with students to practice high frequency initial r words at home!
  3. Articulation Homework for Initial /r/-Holiday Theme by Melanie Cave is a holiday themed worksheet that would be great to send home with your students over break to help them continue practice of initial R! 

Just For You! We spent way too much time looking for engaging but effective articulation materials to send home for practice without it feeling like ‘home work’ for our students. So we made these homework bundles! Check out our Summer Homework Bundle for Articulation, Homework and Language Skills! We have been so happy to have something that checks off all 3 of those categories! We also created a bundle of 10 Months of Articulation Homework. Best Part?? It’s interactive for distance learning too!



In our therapy practice, over 50% of our caseload was working on R articulation in some form, so we want to make sure we are providing effective, fun and accessible information and resources for our Speech Therapy Store Community! Speech therapy planning doesn’t have to be so extensive or take so long when you have us in your corner cheering you on! 

Don’t forget to grab our free preview of our tic tac toe boards below! This preview includes boards to play initial r tic tac toe as well as an interactive blank tic tac toe board for you to fill in the word. Use our Initial R Word List for more word ideas, then have your student draw the target Initial R words on the game board for extra practice, then begin your game!

The free preview of the Initial R Tic Tac Toe Board is part of an Articulation Tic Tac Toe ALL SOUNDS Bundle for sale on our Shop Site! Included in the full bundle are the sounds /B/, /P/, /T/, /D/, /F/, /V/, /K/, /G/, /J/, /M/, /N/, /H/, /W/, /Y/, /R/, /L/, /S/, /Z/, /SH/, /CH/, /TH/, /R-BLENDS/, /S-BLENDS/ and /L-BLENDS/. The total bundle is only $8 and is filled with engaging pictures and and is ready to print and go! Grab it here! 

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    In this section, we cover common inquiries about utilizing tic-tac-toe for initial R articulation practice. Our goal is to provide useful information and resources for speech therapists, educators, and parents.

    How can a tic-tac-toe game be implemented for initial R articulation practice?

    We implement a tic-tac-toe game by replacing the standard Xs and Os with words that start with the letter R. During the game, players must say the word they choose out loud as they mark their spot on the board, which encourages repetition and practice of the initial R sound.

    What printable resources are there for a tic-tac-toe game focusing on initial R sounds?

    Printable resources for such tic-tac-toe games are available online. They typically come as PDFs with pre-made tic-tac-toe grids filled with initial R words. These can often be downloaded from websites that specialize in speech therapy materials.

    Where can I find an online version of tic-tac-toe suitable for speech therapy activities?

    Online versions of tic-tac-toe suitable for speech therapy can be found on educational and speech therapy websites. These platforms sometimes offer interactive games that are designed to target specific speech sounds, including the initial R.

    Is there a free tic-tac-toe game designed to reinforce initial R articulation?

    Yes, many websites provide free tic-tac-toe games specifically designed for speech therapy. These games may be downloadable or playable directly on the website, providing an accessible tool for practicing R articulation.

    Are there any variations of tic-tac-toe that support language development for initial R practice?

    Variations of tic-tac-toe can include using pictures with initial R sounds, multisyllabic R words, or phrases instead of single words. These variations can accommodate different levels of language development and target more specific articulation goals.

    What rules should be followed when introducing tic-tac-toe as a speech therapy tool?

    When we introduce tic-tac-toe as a speech therapy tool, we should ensure that players clearly pronounce the R words before placing their mark. Reinforce correct pronunciation and provide feedback for incorrect articulations. The objective is to practice the sound within a fun, low-pressure setting.


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