Beginning Sounds: Free Secret Decoders

Jul 21, 2019 | Freebies, Reading | 0 comments

This secret code activity will get your students decoding easy CVC words. Simply identify the beginning sounds of each picture to reveal the mystery word. These decoder worksheets are a super fun way to practice beginning sounds. They are perfect for early finishers or literacy centers. Click to download the free printable.

beginning sounds

What is it about secret codes that appeals to kids so much? Perhaps it is the thought of passing messages that no one else can read. Maybe it appeals to their sense of imagination and adventure. Whatever the reason, kids love secret code activities, so it is a fun way to practice all kinds of learning. Today we have some free secret decoders that will help your kids work on beginning sounds.


Phonemic awareness plays an important role in reading development. Briefly, Phonemic awareness it is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds that make up our language. Understanding sounds in words is a foundational skill for developing readers and writers. The concept that words are made up of sounds blended together is one of the first steps towards literacy. Some of students your will come to school with a well developed phonemic awareness, but most of your kinders will need plenty of practice as they start to learn how to read and write.

secret decoders

Beginning sounds are a great place to start. Some kids have difficulties hearing the sounds at the end of the words and may struggle to identify middle sounds. However, the beginning sounds are easier to hear and a perfect place for younger readers to start.

Children love these coded worksheets and you will find that it is a very engaging activity. In fact, it is quite likely to become a class favorite!

secret codes

The best part is that they are super easy to prep. Just download and print. Easy peasy!


These free printable secret decoders will practice three different skills

  1. Identifying and writing beginning sounds
  2. Blending those sounds to read the CVC words,
  3. Matching words to a corresponding picture

Each activity sheet has six words to decipher. The two sheets contain the following words:

  1. Cat, hat, rat, rug, mug, and can
  2. Pen, bat, man, map, cap, and fan

Therefore, we will be practicing those at, ug, an, en and ap sounds. The children will not realize that of course. They will just have fun decoding the mystery words. It is a great way to learn.

These sheets will be a helpful addition to your literacy centers and are great to send home for extra practice.

beginning sounds


Just download and print the secret decoder sheets and you are good to go.

You might want to review the beginning sound pictures with your students before starting the activity. We listed all beginning sounds on the left-hand side of the page. This makes it easy to review.

Point to the first word. Invite students say the name of each code picture aloud. They need to listen to the beginning sound and identify it. Children write the corresponding letter above the picture to record the sound heard. Repeat for each letter. Then students blend the three sounds together to read the word and crack the code. Children can also color in all the pictures if they wish.

Teacher Tip: One of the symptoms of dyslexia is an inability to hear the individual sounds in words. Children with this learning disability also have difficulty blending sounds to make a word. Watch out for students that fall behind their peers and continue to struggle, despite extra help and practice. Find out more here.

Extension Activities

To extend the activity you could ask the children to pick a word and write a sentence that includes that word. Older children could try writing a story that uses all six words.

secret decoders

Why not go one stop further and use these secret codes sheets as part of spy week? Here is some fun resources to help.



Have you tried secret codes with your students? How might you use secret codes to encourage children to read? Leave a comment below.

beginning sounds



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