Beginning sound activities focus on teaching the first sounds of every word and/letter. Reading is tricky business. Kids are supposed to go from knowing words, to learning a whole jumble of non-intuitive ideas to put together the concept of reading. 24 Letters, their names as well as their sounds, rules about how they fit together and make words, and how those words make sentences, to understanding concepts about print. For us adults, it seems “normal”. In English, we pick up a book, read the title, then go to the first page and read from left to right. We pause when there’s a comma and our voices go up when there’s an exclamation mark. For kids, NONE of this is innate. That’s one reason we read books of any kind to our kids. We are teaching these fundamental concepts through repetition. Kids see how we hold books, treat books and what we are looking at in the books. Even after all this modelling, kids still need to be told and taught these basic concepts. So this is why one of the critical steps on the journey to becoming readers is breaking words down to their core and focusing on beginning sounds. This is the start to strong phonemic awareness and phonics! In this blog I’m going to be sharing 8, hands-on, engaging beginning sound activities that will be sure to give a head start to new (and struggling) readers!
Initial sounds Activities
Kids (and adults) learn by doing. Teaching beginning sounds should be done in a multi-faceted way. Through exploration, hands-on learning and through *some* writing activities. This activity is for after you have learned some or all of the letter sounds : p, d, b, g, v, f, a, k, v, & t. Even though we aren’t halfway through the alphabet, it is time to introduce these sounds + a vowel. We can start putting the sounds together to make words. Wild right?! Long gone are the days that we wait to learn the entire alphabet before learning how to read!
How to use this activity:
- I love using a white board for this activity (optional).
- Using the sounds you’ve already taught, isolate 4-5 letters to start off with.
- Go over each sound first so they are fresh in everyone’s head.
- Pick a word family (like “at”). Slowly put a different letter sound in front of the base word “at”.
- Go through all 5 letters until the child can read it more fluently. I like to say “look at you! You are reading!” And they are!!
Hands-on Phonics activities:
This is another favourite of mine! Have kids match the pictures and sounds using sticky notes! I like to add few extras to throw them off a bit 😉 . If this was the first time we were doing this activity, I would not start with so many pictures. Start with a few and then add more pictures as they learn. Why is this such a great activity? We don’t want kids to just learn the letter sounds. We want them to make connections to words and know that letter sounds (and letters) when put together, have meaning (they make words!)
beginning sound Sort:
Okay, so we’ve done the sticky notes and the bingo dabbers, now onto something that further strengthens those phonics skills! Using my letter of the week (bundle), kids match the pictures to each other. This is just another way for kids to really make the connection between the new sounds that they’ve learned and words.
Beginning letter sounds worksheets:
I know I know. Some people are anti-worksheets and some are all for them. I’m somewhere in the middle! I think they’re really helpful, especially when they’re not the only type of learning. This beginning sound activity is a fan favourite! Kids LOVE using bingo dabbers to identify the letters and then they match the letter sounds to the pictures!
More Beginning Sounds Worksheets for Kindergarten:
Another really fun activity is having kids cut out each picture and paste them on the right side. This is a great activity because kids are physically putting the sounds in the correct spots. They are also working on their fine motor through cutting, which is key that they build those very important little hand muscles.
Beginning Sounds Games
Okay, so we all know kids love playing games on tablets and computers. Let’s be real here- online devices also help us! As a teacher, it’s so helpful to be able to differentiate activities by giving kids some games to play and as a mom- the same thing! I am not a big fan of just giving them a tablet and telling them to just go play. The internet is a dangerous place and I do like to limit my kids screen time a bit. Otherwise they’ll be on there forever! These online beginning sound games are GREAT for giving kids the independence to play on their own while also taking part in purposeful learning.
Beginning Sound Clip Cards:
Last but definitely not least, these are ALWAYS a crowd pleaser. Use these at a centre where kids can clip the correct sounds. I also like to use these with my kids at home to reinforce letter sounds that they’ve learned at school. Another great way to engage kids through hands-on learning while building their phonological awareness!
So there you have it. 8 great activities to learn beginning sounds! Each one targeting different intelligences and all excellent for reinforcing this critical concept for our brand new readers!