Teaching letters & sounds in kindergarten is so important for building the foundational skills of literacy. Not sure where to start or what the Science of Reading research states is best for instruction? Keep reading to learn more about teaching letters & sounds in kindergarten.
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This Activity Goes Well With These SImply Kinder Resources:
Introducing Letters & Sounds
A great way to introduce letters and sounds is by comparing them to animals!
For example, a cow is called a cow but what sound does it make?
That’s right! A cow says “moo” even know it’s called a cow.
Letters have names too but we say their sounds when reading and writing. Some letters make different sounds and we will be learning the rules of when this happens.
There are 26 letters in the English language but 44 phonemes (units of sounds). Letters are a symbol so it’s important to focus on teaching sounds and moving from speech to print!
The Logic of English has a great series of videos that go through letters and sounds here:
There are many approaches to letter order but we recommend working with your school curriculum first and foremost. We are big on using what is required and modifying it to what you know is best practice and the reality is there is not one evidence based way to do it. We do know that ABC order is not an approach used so you do need some sort of strategy so if you’re looking for some guidance, check out The Recipe for Reading Letter Scope & Sequence – it’s amazing. It follows a detailed letter order that is great for introducing letters in kindergarten! The first letters are:
c as in cat
o as in octopus
a as in apple
d as in dog
and it continues through blends, vowels teams, and all of the sounds in a logical order. It lays out the order first thin gin the book and then goes into detail for each letter to help you teach it. Highly recommend.
Teaching Letters & Sounds: Use a sound wall
A sound wall is a great tool to use in your classroom to help with forming sounds correctly, proper mouth articulation, and connecting speech to print. Learn more about using a sound wall in kindergarten here.
A sound wall is created by posting the 44 phonemes with explicit instruction on each one as they are “unlocked” for students.
The difference between a sound wall and word wall is that is highlights the relevant spelling patters each sound makes. Learn more about using a sound wall in kindergarten here or check out the Simply Kinder Sound Wall bundle here:
Focus Instruction on Speech to Print
It’s important to teach from speech to print and connect sounds to the written language. Whichever method you choose to follow: sound wall, a bootcamp type method where you go through one letter a day, or any other, just make sure it’s systematic. That’s key.
Meaning, that you follow the same routine and procedures for each letter and sound. This way students can focus on learning the sound and making those important connections instead of learning new directions each time.
A routine you might follow is:
- Introduce the sounds using sound cards. Explicitly teach the sound and model the proper mouth formations.
- Have students practice in whole group, with a partner, and with their mouth mirrors
- Identify keywords that make that sound and practice saying them with students
- Model a hands-on activity such as playdough writing, felt board writing, or interactive sounds brochures
- Have students practice saying and writing the sound the same way for all the sounds you learn.
- Practice these sounds explicitly in words, sentences, books repeatedly to build connections.
To further build neurological connections in the brain connecting speech to print, use multi-sensory activities that stimulate brain activity. This was a HUGE aha for me as a kindergarten teacher so let me say that again. Students need time to make neurological connections and racing through the alphabet to get 26 letters in 26 days may not give students the time they need to make those connections.
Did you know there are over 3000 nerve receptors in your fingers? They need to write the letters in sand, manipulate the letters in play dough, use the sounds in hands-on tactile activities. They need that time for their little brains to really process and the letters and sounds.
Our morning bin/task box bundle is filled with a huge variety of hands-on activities to do jus that. Check it out here!
It is also important to incorporate writing letters and sounds for each set of sounds taught. This also helps connect speech to print and work on muscle memory. Students should practice upper and lowercase letters together while practicing their sounds in a meaningful way. A great activity to use are Sound Brochures with Real Photos which also includes a home link for families to work on these skills too.
Do you have a tip to share on teaching letters & sounds in kindergarten? Make sure to join the conversation inside the Simply Kinder Teachers Facebook Group Here!