This is a guest post by Barbara. Please see her bio at the bottom!
Learning letter sounds seem like they should come naturally, but many children struggle to learn their letter sounds. When learning sounds, it helps to bring meaning to the letters and sounds. Do not have them learn letter sounds in isolation, tie the sounds to words/pictures and begin with the initial sound in a word. Move onto ending and then the medial sounds as they have a grasp of the sounds and beginning sound in words. Make learning letter sounds fun and engaging for them. Worksheets, even cut and paste pages are not engaging. Games and movement activities make learning letter sounds so much fun, they will be interested in learning their sounds and will come back to the games over and over again.
A quick tip: When teaching the vowels, begin with the short vowel sound, these are more prevalent in words and are harder to learn and remember: a = apple, e = elephant, I = insect, o = octopus, u = umbrella.
Let’s Get Engaged with Activities For Learning Letter Sounds!
It is good to have a letter/sound chart and chant the letter name, sound and picture of the word that begins with that sound (a, /a/, apple; b, /b/, ball). You can go through the alphabet forwards or backwards, just do the whole alphabet, and only one time each time you do it. However, don’t get stuck with this. It is helpful for a quick starting activity or a review, but don’t get stuck with only doing this. Your child can use the chart to help them when they cannot remember the letter or sound, so don’t hide it, keep it where they can see and use it.
Letter Sound Hop:
- Materials: pictures (apple, ball, carrot, dog, egg, fish, goat, etc.), letter cards
- Place the pictures around the floor, show your child a letter card, they say the letter and sound then they hop or jump to the picture that begins with that sound. If the do not know the sound, but know the word it goes with, have them go to the picture and say the word then help them to isolate the beginning sound and say, “Yes, ball starts with /b/, /b/, b”. Always reinforce the sound and letter together.
Roll and Cover:
- Materials: regular dice, game board, chips
- Roll the dice match the number on the dice to the letter and cover the picture that begins with the letter. Again, say the letter, sound, and picture before the next turn is taken.
Roll and Match:
- Materials: Letter dice, picture cards
- Roll the dice and then find the picture that begins with the sound the letter makes. And then, your child should say the letter, sound, and picture before the next turn is taken.
Here’s an example of letter dice. Click the picture for more information:
Here’s an example of picture cards. Click on the picture for more information:
- Materials: Lacing cards
- Your child pulls the string from the letter to the picture it matches and laces it through the hole. After this, have your child go back and say the letter and the sound and picture they matched it to.
- Materials: 2 sets of letters with picture sound cards (could be flashcards with letter and picture; the cards could have the same picture or to make it more challenging they could have different pictures)
- Mix the cards and pass out 5 cards to each player. Place the rest of the cards in the middle of the players. For your turn ask for the card you want saying the letter, sound, and picture (Do you have the card that matches c, /k/, cat?). If they do give the card to the player, if not go fish from the cards in the pile in the middle of the players.
- Materials: spyglass with letter on it, picture cards
- This is a sound sorting game. Give your child two spyglasses with different letters such as b and m. Then give them picture cards that begin with b and m and throw in two cards that do not begin with those sounds. After this, have your child sort the picture onto the spyglasses. When they come to the pictures that do not match either spyglass, have them put the pictures to the side as oddballs. As they do this. ask them for the letter and sound they begin with. Once they have completed the sort, go through each spyglass saying the pictures on the spyglass, making sure they all have the same beginning sound.
- Materials: Cards with pictures on them, individual letters (magnetic, puzzle pieces, printed cards)
- The child points to a picture, says the picture name and beginning sound, then they place the letter over the picture that matches the beginning sound.
Crash or Zap:
- Materials: Capital letter cards, lowercase letter cards, and zap or crash cards. You can use letter cards that have a picture on them for children that are still trying to learn their letters.
- Put all the cards in a bag. Pull out a card, if it is a letter say the letter and sound the letter makes. If they are correct, they get to keep the card, if not it goes back in. If it is a zap or crash card all their cards go back in the bag.
- Materials: 2 sets of picture sound cards
- Mix up all the cards. Lay them out face down. Turn over a card and say the picture, beginning sound and the letter it begins with. Then turn over a second card say the picture name, beginning sound and letter. If they match, keep the set. If they do not match, turn the set back over.
There Are Always Books, Books and More Books
My Alphabet Animals by Betsie Lewis
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
What if an Alligator Ate an Avalanche by Damien Macalino
The Construction Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and Rob Bolster
K is for Kindergarten by Erin Dealey
The Pajama Zoo Parade: The Funniest Bedtime ABC Book by Agnes Green
A is for Angry by Sandra Boynton
Eric Carle’s ABC by Eric Carle
My Best Ever: ABC Alphabet Book by Annie Simpson
Elmo’s ABC Book by Deborah November
Barbara Johnston is a retired educator and reading specialist of 30 years. Her education starts at Cal State Fullerton with a BS in Child Development, a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instructional Design from Hope International University, and a Reading Specialist endorsement from University of Virginia. She has been happily married for 31 years and is a mom to 3 adult children and grandma to 2 littles. She loves sharing her experience and learning activities to help young children enjoy a love of learning, while building a firm educational foundation. You can find her blog at: https://learningwithlittles.com/
Her social media links are here: