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Early Intervention Speech Therapy


Published August 2, 2011 8:45 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week I would like to talk about my most useful and prized speech therapy tool: the trusty pacing board! I'm wondering if there are other therapists out there who love this inexpensive, easy-to-make, always handy, can-carry anywhere, multi-purpose speech therapy device as much as I do?! I rarely go into any classroom or therapy session without one in some form or another!

July and August are two of our busiest IEP months at school, so I am in meetings at least once or twice a week with parents. When I explain to them some of the strategies we are using in the classroom and ways they can reinforce speech at home, I often talk about the use of a pacing board and sentence strips. I demonstrate how to use both and try to have a simple pacing board available to give them so that they can support these methods in their home.

Here is a list of the MANY ways I use a pacing board in the classroom:

  • To pace out multi-syllabic words such as "E-LE-PHANT"
  • To pace out sentences such as "I-WANT-JUICE-PLEASE"
  • To help slow down my fast talkers! I demonstrate for them how to use a pacing board to slow down their speech and have them imitate my example.
  • To help children who are omitting sounds and words. A pacing board can help show them that every-sound-should-be-said-when-talking!
  • To expand a child's mean length of utterance (MLU). A pacing board is a great way to help move them from only one- to two-word utterances to three to four words.
  • To help children take conversational turns when talking with others. Pacing boards help make speech and language a little more tangible and gives the child a visual "my turn/your turn" cue.
  • And of course, add pictures and make it into a sentence strip! It's a great way to help children get their wants and needs met ("I-WANT-MILK" or "I-PICK-OLD-MACDONALD)." Using this same idea, pacing boards and sentence strips can also be used to help children with both asking and answering yes/no and ‘wh' questions.

For those of you who may not be familiar with a pacing board or might not use one very often, here is an EASY way to make a simple, inexpensive pacing board:

Simply cut a piece of construction paper, poster board or cardboard into strips about three inches wide and about eight to 12 inches long. I like to use stickers or Post-It Notes® (I have ones that are stars and flowers) to make my pacing board dots. Simply run the strips through a laminator and voila! A low-maintenance and low-cost pacing board you can use over and over. Simply add velcro to the laminated board and attach sentence strip pictures to bring your tool to a whole new level.

Do you have other ways you use the pacing board or other ways you have made one? Please share your ideas!



I am doing research for grad school and pacing boards, but having trouble finding reliable research. Do you have any recommendations?

Trish April 21, 2015 11:07 PM

I have used standard rulers for pacing and smaller ( 6 in) rulers for sentence strips.  I use circular velco dots attached to the rulers for each syllable, word, etc.    They are easy to carry and I usually attach the 6 in,. to the edge of a binder that holds requesting icons with "I want" already attached for my early learners.  

Theresa Schaedig, CCC-SLP August 9, 2011 8:08 AM

I would also love to see pictures of a Pace board.  My son is 4y/o and has verbal apraxia.  He talks very fast and most of it unintelligable.  I think this would be a great addition to his therapy and help him slow down so that he can be more understandable :)

Karen, apraxia mom August 8, 2011 10:06 PM

I will get pictures together over this week and present them for next Tuesday's post!!  

stephanie dowling August 8, 2011 7:26 AM

If you have a picture of the board I would like to see it.  Thanks-Carlene

Carlene Dassinger, Public School August 6, 2011 2:02 PM
Eustis FL

Thanks for all the great feedback and suggestions! I love the idea of the stuffed caterpillars!! The kids must love that! Thanks for sharing :)

stephanie dowling August 5, 2011 9:19 PM

I love the idea of using sentence strips and the catepillars for the tactile and visual feedback.  I would love to see pictures of both if you can post.

Laura Sajeski, School and Private - SLP August 5, 2011 10:06 AM
Orlando FL

I use stuffed caterpillars.  I found these at Dollar Tree.  They have 6 different colored segments.  I put them in front of the child with the head at the left (so they move left to right).  There is tactile feedback as they squish each segment for the syllables of a word.  I use these only for syllabication.  I use an abacus for a pacing board with stutterers.  I use sticky notes, etc when pacing for a sentence.  I like the student to be able to see the materials and know which task is expected - so they don't try to syllabicate when I want them to pace whole words.  The kids love the caterpillars.  A friend has her groups make their own caterpillars from egg cartons to use as their own pacing boards.

Colleen, Educational - SLP, Clarke Middle School August 5, 2011 8:23 AM
Athens GA

Love the idea about different color for stressed syllable.  I carry poker chips for games like bingo and use them for pacing also.

Ricki, , SLP Private practice August 3, 2011 9:10 PM

Love pacing boards, too.  Also just found a cute one online with turtles on each square to use in fluency therapy with children ("turtle talk!").  Would love to see some pics of fun pacing boards!!

Kelly August 3, 2011 8:31 AM

The pacing boards can be helpful to kids with apraxia of speech.  An added bonus is if you can make the stressed syllable a different color or the representation a bit different so that you can work on suprasegmental work since we all know kids with CAS most often have difficulty with prosody.  Work on prosody early!  Nice article!

Sharon, CASANA August 2, 2011 10:52 AM

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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