Empowering educators to support children’s speech and language with Lubbi the Icelandic Sheepdog

Thora Másdóttir, University of Iceland, Iceland (
Eyrún Ísfold Gísladóttir, Talþjálfun Reykjavíkur/Málsmiðja Eyrúnar, Iceland (

Background: TheLubbi materials were developed to give early childhood educators and SLPs in Iceland an evidence-based means of supporting young children’s speech and language development. Activities can be used to develop speech, language, and literacy skills, and special attention is given to children with severe speech sound disorders. The materials focus around the adventures of Lubbi, an Icelandic sheepdog who is searching all around Iceland for ‘speech bones’ to learn how to talk. The materials consist of a storybook, speech sounds cards, articulator drawings, gestural cues, short stories, phonological awareness activities, speech production exercises, and early reading skills. Each speech sound has an accompanying symbolic gesture and a song.

Aim: To describe the development of and rationale behind the materials and insight into how participants could develop similar materials in other languages.

Method: The development of theLubbi program drew on research concerning phonological development, characteristics of speech sound disorders, phonological awareness, gestural cues in speech/language development, the role of music in speech/language development, and sensory integration. A short survey was sent to preschools (n=250; 149 responded, i.e., 58.6%) to further explore the implementation of the Lubbi program.

Results: The survey results indicated that (a) all preschools knew the Lubbi book and/or the Lubbi material, (b) 84.9% were using the book and/or the material, and (c) 91.1% of the preschools who had access to the Lubbi material reported using it.

Conclusions: Lubbi is widely recognised and used in Icelandic preschools. Presentation participants will gain insight in how to develop a multi-dimensional method of learning (visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation along with oral production) in line with current research evidence. Emphasis will be placed on the clinical application of the material and providing the participants with practical ideas for working with children with speech and language disorders and boosting the language skills of typically developing preschool children.

Implications for children: You will see how children learn about the sounds of the Icelandic language by helping Lubbi the sheepdog find sound bones and practice different speech sounds.

Implications for families: You will understand how evidence-based resources can support children’s early literacy skill development.

Implications for practitioners: You will see the potential of an innovative, multi-modal method of engaging children in activities supporting speech sound development, phonological awareness, metalinguistic awareness, and early literacy.

Funding: Þróunarsjóður námsgagna [funding from Ministry of Education, Iceland], Heyrnar- og talmeinastöð Íslands [The Hearing and Speech Institute of Iceland], Barnavinafélagið Sumargjöf [The Childrens’ Friends Association].

Disclosure: The purpose of this presentation is not to sell the Lubbi materials to participants, as they are based on the Icelandic language, but to provide the rationale behind the materials and insight into how participants could develop similar materials in other languages.

Key words: children’s voices, professionals’ voices, innovations, speech and language, education, regional/rural communities, international communities, phonological awareness, early literacy, Icelandic language.

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: