Carrier Phrases in Speech Therapy: Examples & Tips for Parents

By: VocoVision

Carrier phrases are powerful and effective ways for parents to help children with speech-language needs at home. Find out about them, and many different tips on using them with kids, in our guide.

What is a Carrier Phrase?

Carrier phrases are critical tools in speech therapy. The words in the phrase are the same, except for the ending.  The child finishes the phrase with a word of their own. For example, a child may be given the carrier phrase, “I see a…” and they fill in the blank with a word of their choosing.

There are many benefits to using carrier phrases in speech therapy and they can be useful in addressing many speech and language development challenges. This practice helps reinforce routines, assisting children to become comfortable and confident as they improve their vocabulary. One of the best things about carrier phrases is their ease of use and application. Parents can efficiently work with their children at home using these valuable tools, helping kids practice and build their speech skills while forming short sentences.

Carrier Phrase Examples

The power of carrier phrases is that they are simple but also customizable. Depending on the interest of children, these phrases can be adapted to meet their interests. A carrier phrase list may consist of limitless options, all of which can benefit kids in speech therapy. Here are some examples:

  • “I see a…”
  • “I found a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I want a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I have a…”
  • “He has a…”
  • “She has a…”
  • “I like to…”
  • “He likes to…”
  • “She likes to…”
  • “I can find…”
  • “He can find…”
  • “She can find…”
  • “They are both…”
  • “They have a…”
  • “Do you see…?”
  • “Do you want…?”
  • “Do you like…?”
  • “Do you have a…?”
  • “Where is the…?”
  • “What is the…?”
  • “Who has the…?”

These are just some of the possibilities to include in carrier phrase activities with children and can be modified to fit individual needs.

What are the Benefits of Carrier Phrases in Speech Therapy?

Carrier phrases provide countless benefits. One primary advantage of them is that they encourage children to use longer sentences. By providing a scaffold, parents and therapists help kids achieve outcomes they might not otherwise reach. Building communication skills and the confidence that comes with these new abilities is crucial. Carrier phrases help children learn new structures and speech norms, which allow them to grow and develop much more quickly in speech and language.

Besides lengthening sentences, these essential tools also help with the language development process. Using carrier phrases for articulation improvement is an excellent approach. Children learning new speech sounds begin to expand their sentences without the stress of coming up with their own words. The structure of the carrier phrase helps them stretch out their articulation skills rapidly.

Carrier phrases can be especially beneficial to children who have anomic aphasia or apraxia of speech. In this condition, the brain has trouble coordinating and combining syllables, words, and phrases. By supplying a repeated scaffold, speech therapists can help these children create longer phrases and sentences.

Children who stutter also show improvement after using these strategies. Carrier phrases allow these kids to slow down their speech, focusing on simple sounds and increasing their fluency while they simply fill in the blank.

Another benefit of using carrier phrases is learning language patterns and etiquette. Taking turns, pausing for responses, and understanding communication structures are all results of utilizing carrier phrases.

Possible Drawbacks of Carrier Phrases

Although carrier phrases seem overwhelmingly beneficial, there are some drawbacks. Some children may use them as a crutch and rely on them too much. Sentences become repetitive, and some kids may limit their imagination to develop new and diverse sentences. If children lean on these phrases too much, it can affect their vocabulary development, as well. For example, they may start only saying carrier phrases such as “I want…” to articulate their demands, instead of more advanced and varied forms of speech.

If parents notice these patterns forming, they can adjust the carrier phrases. Add in new words and expand the activities with synonyms. For example, if a child is reliant on “I want…”, introduce another phrase such as, “I would like…”. The child will deliver the same meaning in his speech but can vary the wording and vocabulary.

How to Use Carrier Phrases

To maximize the effectiveness of carrier phrases, children must remain engaged in the speech activity. There are lots of tasks that children can participate in, including:

Sensory Bin Dig and Find

Sensory bins are valuable implements for many children. Combining these with carrier phrases is an exciting and productive activity. Fill containers with materials like oatmeal, rice, or sand, and have children dig in to find objects you hid previously. After they discover an object, have them use a carrier phrase such as, “I found a…!”

Picture Bingo!

As students place their chips on a spot, they can use a carrier phrase, like “I have a…,” to announce their victory.

Go Fish

This classic card game works well with children in speech therapy, especially articulation. The carrier phrase, “Do you have a…?” is a natural component of the game.

Magnetic Fishing

Use paper clips holding paper fish, have children “catch” the fish. As they announce their catch, they can say, “I got the…”, a carrier phrase.

I Spy

Use the game I Spy as a carrier phrase activity. As children find objects, use the words “I spy…” as sentence starters.

Boom Cards

Boom cards are an interactive digital tool that offers a wide variety of uses for therapists and parents alike.


Playing this traditional game lends itself naturally to carrier phrases. When you find a pair, yell out, “I found…!” This is a great way to reinforce memory and communication.

Book Discovery

Have children go through picture books, identifying objects with a carrier phrase. “I see…” is an effective and accurate way to build vocabulary as students finish sentences.

The Slap Game

Arrange picture cards face down on a table. Flip one over. Now it’s a race to find the matching card. Whoever finds it first slaps it and yells out, “I got the…!”

Further Speech Therapy Support

Carrier phrases are excellent ways to boost speech and language development. However, they may not work for every child. If you think your child has significant speech-language issues, or if these strategies don’t seem to be working, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice.

Today, it is easier than ever to get help. Because of teletherapy, you can help your child thrive, all from the comfort of home. Here at VocoVision, we provide affordable and convenient consultations to our online speech therapy services. Find out more about our Voco At-Home services today.

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