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Easier Sounds and Words

Whilst you are waiting for your child’s cleft palate to be repaired, you can support their speech and language development by focussing on easier words.

Easier words are made with nose sounds (m, n, ng), low pressure sounds (l, w, r, y, h) and vowels (e.g. ahh, eee, ooh). Words like more, no, wow, hello, owl, yeah, eye and ear are therefore easier words for your child to learn.

We have made two videos telling Tim Hopgood’s story Wow! Said the Owl with easier words. You can watch the videos with your child, or use them as a guide for telling your child the story yourself.


Book cover of Wow! Said the Owl, a book about colours, by Tim Hopgood

Wow! Said the Owl book cover

Shorter Story

For children who are learning their first words.


This video shows a special shorter version of Wow! Said the Owl using mainly easier words. This is ideal for children with a cleft palate who are learning their first words.

Your child learns to talk by listening and watching you talk. When you tell the story, be face-to-face and make the easier words stand out by repeating them and using a soft, tuneful voice. The aim is for your child to watch and listen, so take the pressure off getting your child to talk and enjoy the story together.

Whole Story

For children who understand simple sentences and already use words to communicate.


This video tells the whole story of Wow! Said the Owl, pointing out easier words and leaving some extra time for you to say them with your child. This is ideal for children who can understand simple sentences and already use words or short phrases to communicate.

When your child has heard the story from you many times they may be ready to join in with some of the easier words. Be face-to-face, model the easier word or give them a lead-in (e.g. ‘it’s a….?’) Then pause and show your child that you are listening, ready for them to take a turn. If they don’t say anything it’s okay– just say the word for them to hear. Listening is a great way to learn new words.


We would like to thank Maryanne Jones for her talented story-telling.

Spires Cleft Centre is extremely grateful to Tim Hopgood and Pan Macmillan for their kindness in allowing us to share our videos of this wonderful book.