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Drag and Drop Trains | Expanding Utterances

Use either or 2 or 3 word trains to help expand MLU! Match the background color of the draggable picture pieces to the train with he same background color to create longer utterances!

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Sentence Scramble

Our sentences have been completely mixed up. See if you can help us out by dragging them back down in the correct order!

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Flipcard Expanding MLU and Verb Tense

Expand your the length of your utterances by clicking the picture cards to create whacky sentences!

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What is MLU?

MLU, or Mean Length of Utterance, refers to how long and complex a child’s average utterance is.

Think of an utterance as a sentence.

When calculating how long and complex a child’s utterances are we look at two things.

1.) How many words are in the utterances

2.) How many morphemes are in those words

How many words are in an utterance is pretty straightforward, but counting morphemes is a bit more murky.

Morphemes can be a stand alone word like cat.  Or morphemes can also be the letters we add before or after the word to change the meaning of that word.

For example, if you drive by a farm full of cows and your one year old says “cow!”; that would be considered one morpheme for that utterance.

If a few months later, you drive by the same farm full of cows and your child says “cows!”; that would be considered two morphemes for that utterance. 

The word cow would count as one morpheme and the plural “s” would be considered another morpheme. 

Since your child is able to recognize that the “s” at the end of cows means there is more than one cow, that could indicate that your child’s language is becoming more complex!

Other additions that children can make so their utterances become more complex are verb tenses.  If a child adds an -ed or changes a verb to its irregular past tense version(eat to ate) we would consider that two morphemes.

For example, if your child said “Yesterday, I eat”

We would count that as 3 morphemes (

If your child said 
“Yesterday, I ate”

We would count that as 4 morphemes (2 for the word ate since they were able to recognize that ate is the past tense version of eat)

There are tons of small rules on when to count morphemes which have been laid out nicely here:

When it comes to expanding MLU, Speech-Language Pathologists tend to work on both adding more words to a child’s utterance and adding more complex morphemes. 

Some children may require support adding smaller words such as “the, a, an” to their utterances while some children may need support adding adjectives or the correct verb conjugations to their utterances!