About SIM

Use the links below to find the following information about Sounds In Motion:

SOUNDS IN MOTION is an interventional program designed to develop listening skills in children, which in turn helps to improve articulation, and vocabulary skills, auditory memory, phonemic awareness and early literacy. Used primarily with pre-kindergarten through first grade students, SIM may also be applicable to older students who are having difficulty learning to read. It enables speech-language pathologists to work collaboratively with teachers in regular education and special education classrooms, in developing oral language and early reading and writing skills. It also acts as an early diagnostic tool, identifying children who may need further evaluation.

Goals of SIM:

The SOUNDS IN MOTION approach has a number of goals. Uniquely, it pairs kinesthetic gross motor movements with phonemes to teach articulation, phonemic awareness and sound/symbol association; it addresses improvement of receptive and expressive (oral and written) language skills, and it helps children develop the ability to become actively involved in the task of listening – a communication activity that is generally overlooked in academic instruction. Of the four communication activities that are taught and used during a child’s school years, (listening, speaking, reading and writing) listening, which provides the foundation for all aspects of language and cognitive development, and plays a life-long role in the processes of learning and communication, is the activity that is most used, and yet, it is the least taught.

How does SIM work?

Since SIM is supplemental, it can be used to augment most reading programs. It consists of 15 weekly sessions, each lasting 30-40 minutes. The lessons are taught collaboratively by the SLP and the classroom teacher. Every session includes: a review of the body movements for previously taught phonemes; an introduction of movements for 2 new phonemes and practice combining these movements with those previously learned to create syllables and words; a specific listening activity (such as following directions, or auditory discrimination); and a language activity in the form of a Rebus story, or rhyme. Since great emphasis is spent on listening skills in SIM, two sessions are also devoted to teaching the children about noise abuse and how to protect their hearing. Children are tested prior to, during, and after the completion of the program to evaluate their communication and reading skills.

This program was initially created to address the need for treating the large number of children who were being referred for articulation therapy, by providing some weekly stimulation in auditory perception and phoneme production in the classroom. A technique designed to teach early learners to become actively involved in listening was introduced through the use of “whole body listening" (S.Truesdale, LSHSS, 1990). To develop correct auditory perception and articulation stimulation of phonemes for the entire class, “body movements,” were introduced.

The body movements are part of the VerboTonal Method, an aural habilitation and rehabilitation program for children and adults created by the Croatian linguist and speech scientist, Petar Guberina. Guberina, a contemporary of Jean Piaget, had learned from him the importance of movement and play in helping children develop cognition and language. The body movements, which include characteristics of tension, duration, pitch, intensity, and placement of the articulators in space, associated with each phoneme were designed by kinesthesiologists under Guberina’s direction. The goal was to establish a movement with the above characteristics so that, while a child was vocalizing and engaged in doing the movement, correct articulation of the phoneme would occur spontaneously. Guberina believed that by providing visual, kinesthetic and proprioceptive clues to the deaf child, he could augment acoustic information about sound quality which was not being transmitted to the brain. For children with normal hearing the auditory channel is also activated, thus helping to develop correct articulation, auditory perception, and auditory memory for the phonemes.

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All of the body movements are based on the following characteristics of each speech sound: pitch; duration; tension; place of the articulators in space; and intensity. For the three bilabials (b - m - p) for example, the movements are very different. The (b) is a relaxed low frequency sound that is short in duration. The movement is made low in front of the body. In doing the movement you clasp your hands together, keep your arms straight, bend at the waist, and gently swing your arms from side to side while saying "b - b - b." The (m) is a slightly higher pitch and is longer in duration. it is a relaxed sound. The movement is made mid-section in front of the body. You bend slightly at the waist, stretch one arm across your body palm up, and slowly move it toward the other side (as if you were showing a variety of delicious dishes on the table) and say "mmmmmm" while you are moving your arm. The final bilabial, the (p) is the most tense of these three sounds. It is low in pitch, but made high on the body because of the increase in tension. It is a quick, explosive sound that is made by holding your arms above your head, making fists, and then popping your fists open as you say "p" (be careful not to say "puh").

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I. The following results are CVC Nonsense Word test results administered to experimental (SIM) and control (No SIM) classes by therapists at schools in Saratoga, NY and Bryam Township, NJ in 2007. (Click the image to enlarge)

II. PALS: C.S. (Colonial Heights, VA) - All children in six Kindergarten classes (approximately 120 students) passed PALS test in the year that SIM was introduced. This is the first time this has occurred. The previous year, 12 children failed the test.

III. DIBELS data submitted by therapists evaluating SIM program with Kindergarten students in a parochial and a rural school in Pennsylvania and South Carolina in 2008 and 2009. (Click photos to enlarge.)

IV. ECLAS literacy test results 2009 from a Public School in NYC (Kindergarten class at P.S. 92) in which 96% of the students qualify for Title 1 funding. (Click photo to enlarge). 

V. These GRTR results are from a Pre-K class that used SOUNDS IN MOTION at the James M. Brown Elementary School for the 2010-2011 in Walhalla, SC.

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The following are writing samples of children in kindergarten who have been exposed to Sounds In Motion. The children become confident that they are able to spell because they “hear the sounds.” They often begin to write spontaneously.

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Sounds in Motion: Phonemic Awareness
By Fran Santore, MA, CCC-SLP
August 21, 2006

(Originally published in Advance, and available here.)

If you walk into the kindergarten classroom at the Horace Mann Lower School, in Riverdale, NY, on any given day, you probably will see children writing in their journals and using body movements with their arms and hands to check their spelling. Such an activity is part of Sounds in Motion, a collaborative program used with kindergarteners and first-graders.

I originally introduced the program, and it has evolved over the past 10 years as a result of input from the classroom teachers.

"Before I began using Sounds in Motion, children in previous classes usually just wrote one or two words under their journal pictures," said Kathy Spicer, the head kindergarten teacher. "Now many of the children are writing whole sentences; and they are thinking about the sounds in the words, so their spelling is quite remarkable."

The original intent of the program was to improve general listening skills by introducing the concept of whole body listening and doing weekly activities that would focus on auditory perception and discrimination of consonants that often are misarticulated.1 A special dimension of the program was incorporating the use of body movements for the children to learn, which would help with perception and production of specific phonemes.

The body movements are part of the late Croatian scientist Petar Guberina's Verbotonal system, which combines speech communication and electroacoustics to improve auditory skills, memory, spoken language, articulation and communication skills.2,3 This system is used as an aural habilitation approach with children who are hearing impaired, and it seemed to be an excellent way to introduce kinesthetic awareness of speech sounds to children with normal hearing.4

Through the use of body movements, the characteristics of tension, duration, pitch and directionality of the articulators that are associated with each speech sound are introduced to help the children experience correct placement and production for specific consonants. The activation of large muscle groups associated with production of the speech sound also helps memory for the sound.

Over time, teachers also began to request activities that would help children with auditory perception of the five short vowels, as well as activities that could help the children improve their ability to blend sounds into words.

Additional components were practice in reading and writing the syllables and words that were introduced. Currently, the program focuses on helping kindergarteners and first-graders gain phonemic awareness skills; discriminate short vowels and consonants that often are confused; develop improved listening habits and skills in the areas of auditory discrimination, auditory memory, verbal absurdities and syllabification; learn placement for correct articulation; and learn about hearing conservation and health care.

Specifically, activities are designed to improve general listening skills, as well as improve discrimination of short vowels and consonant groups [p-t-k, b-d-g, m-n, w-l-r, f-s-th (voiceless), v-th (voiced)-z] in nonsense syllables and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words.

In addition to these discrimination activities, the program emphasizes four areas of phoneme awareness:

recognizing that words can be broken down into individual phonemes;
recognizing that sounds can be deleted from words to make new words;
the ability to blend sounds to create words; and
the ability to segment words into constituent sounds.
Finally, children also get practice in articulation, syllabification and written word recognition through rhymes and articulation stories that focus on a particular sound. Generally, two to three sounds are introduced in each lesson and are combined with previously taught sounds.

Rebus-type stories that emphasize one of the new sounds are presented. These stories give children practice in articulation, introduce new vocabulary, and reinforce seeing the words and pictures on the board while saying them.

Sounds in Motion is introduced to the kindergarten and first-grade classes in our school in the fall semester. The speech-language pathologist works in the classroom with the teacher in each class for 30 minutes per week for 12 to 15 weeks, depending on the needs of the class.

All of the teachers have been taught the movements for the sounds they need to incorporate into their reading and spelling instruction. The first-grade teachers tend to use the movements primarily for the short vowels, while the kindergarten teachers place more emphasis on the consonants.

The children enjoy learning and doing the body movements. They are engrossed in the stories and find both the general listening activities and the discrimination activities a challenge. The classroom teachers enjoy the program because it adds a kinesthetic dimension to a multisensory reading approach and trains the children how to become better listeners. It appears to help a number of children who have difficulty with sound/symbol association learn to make an association more easily and to blend those sounds together into words.

From the point of view of the speech-language pathologist, this program has become an excellent diagnostic tool. I have been able to identify children who exhibit auditory processing difficulty or who are sight readers rather than phonemic readers and alert the teachers to their special needs. In addition, the opportunity to begin articulation stimulation in the first grade seems to have decreased the number of children who are in need of articulation therapy in a pull-out program in the second grade.

With the passing of laws such as the No Child Left Behind Act, speech-language pathologists working in elementary schools are now faced with the task of introducing programs that develop literacy. There is ample evidence-based practice in working on phonemic awareness skills to assist children in learning to read, which has been summarized by the report of the National Reading Panel (2000).5 Its efficacy also has been linked to its application in working with children who have spoken language impairment.6

Sounds in Motion can provide the school-based clinician with the opportunity to work on articulation stimulation, auditory perception, phonemic awareness and vocabulary development simultaneously with an entire class. The collaborative program between the speech-language pathologist and primary grade teachers is not only unique and fun for the children but encourages teamwork between professionals working on common goals.


1. Truesdale, S. (1990). Whole body listening: Developing active auditory skills. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 21: 183-84.

2. Asp, C. (1998). Verbotonal Research. Knoxville, TN, Listen Inc.

3. Guberina, P., Asp, C. (1981). The Verbotonal Method for rehabilitating people with communication problems. Monograph No. 13. Washington, DC: World Rehabilitation Fund, U.S. Department of Education.

4. Santore, F. (1980). Follow-up research in Verbotonal aural rehabilitation methodology. Grant No. 22-p-5903212-02. New York: World Rehabilitation Fund.

5. National Institutes of Health. (2000). National Reading Panel: Reports of the Subgroups. NIH Publication No. 00-4754. Washington, DC.

6. Gillon, G. (2000). The efficacy of phonological awareness intervention for children with spoken language impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 31: 126-41.

Frances Santore is a speech-language pathologist at the Horace Mann Lower School. She can be contacted at fransantore@gmail.com.

Sample: Four Weeks of Sounds In Motion Program*

Week 1

a. Pre-test (CVC nonsense words)
b. Whole Body Listening
c. Introduce clapping rhyme: Puppy-up

Week 2

a. Call for whole body listening
b. Introduce movements for consonants (b-m-p) and short vowels (a-i)
c. Blend these sounds into two sound units with the accompanying movements: /am/, /ap/, /ab/, /ib/, /im/, /ip/
d. Introduce story: "Barbee's Adventure" [perception of (b)]

Week 3

a. Review all sounds learned
b. Introduce general listening activity (Question the Direction)
c. Introduce movements for (t-d-n) and (o) and combine them with previously learned sounds to make CVC words. Have children volunteer to come to the front of the class to introduce three sound words to class.

Week 4

a. Review all movements with tables or groups of children leading the class
b. Set up a discrimination activity. For example, circle correct syllable (VC) from choice of two or four with emphasis on final consonant (p-t, m-n, b-d)
c. Story: "Dan's Dream" [perception of (d)]
*Activities will vary depending on the needs of the class members.

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