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Speech Auditory discrimination of minimal pairs  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Listen for the difference between words which are minimal pairs (are different by just one sound) for example "key" and "tea".

Phonology/Articulation:Phonological Awareness
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
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Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Main instructions

Pictures of minimal pair words (e.g. key/tea) - photocopy them on to card (e.g. 6 of each word) so that the child can't see through the card.

1. Put one of each picture (e.g. key and tea) on the table, face up.

2. Mix up the rest of the pictures and put them in a pile face down.

3. Take one picture from the pile, don't let the child see it!

4. Say what is on the picture (e.g. key).

5. Make sure you present the pictures in a random order so that the child can't predict what's coming next.

6. The child has to point to the appropriate picture on the table.

7. If it is right, the child can have a shot at one of the following games below.

These are the main instructions for the activities. Use this with the games below.

Posting Game

2 boxes with holes cut out, to look like a post box

1. Stick one of the minimal pair cards on each of the post boxes.

2. When the child identifies the right picture, he/she can post it in the corresponding post box.

Alternatively you could have animals' faces on the boxes, with holes cut out for mouths.

Racing Game

2 racing tracks of equal length (you can draw these on some paper)

2 toy cars

To make sure the racing tracks are the same length, divide each one up into separate squares for the cars to move along.

Colouring Game

Pictures to colour in



Building bricks (one-inch cubes work best)

Bean bowls

4 bowls


2 pictures for one pair of words (see comments for which pictures to use).

Use pairs of words. For example one word will have 's' in it and one will have 'd', the way the child pronounces it. The word with 'd' in it can be a monster/alien/object from outer space/ different language.

Possible words, e.g. using:

's'/'d' at the beginning:

sail, dale

sip, dip

sock, dock

's'/'d' in the middle:

bossy, body

racing, raiding

's'/'d' at the end

kiss, kid

race, raid

rice, ride

sauce, sword

Lotto game

Lotto boards (4 pictures to a board. Use pairs of words from the list above, but do not put both words of a pair on the same board)

Corresponding picture cards

See example list of words above.

Dragon's Treasure

Use the lotto boards and picture cards described in the lotto activity.

'Precious' objects e.g. cup, casket etc.

blutac or sticky tape


Have the children take turns being the dragon and the 'helper' (or 'hobbit' if they are familiar with the story).

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