J loves learning his letter sounds at the moment! He learnt the letter names from the ABC song that we have on a nursery rhyme CD playing in the car, but this isn’t very useful when it comes to reading, so I am pleased that he is now learning his letter sounds too. We ensure that learning is very child led, but since J can’t get enough of the letter sounds we are finding games and activities to help him.
All of the activities below focus on learning the letter sounds. I have suggested ways to progress the game as your child learns their sounds and becomes increasingly confident.
i-spy with my little eye
Using the i-spy phrase is a great way to teach children the letter sounds. Instead of using the letter names (ABC) use the letter sounds (what the letter sounds like so instead of C use /kuh/). Then, “i-spy with my little eye something beginning with /kuh/”.
To begin with, you could use picture cards of a range of everyday objects or animals which your child knows the name of. You don’t need to have any writing on the pictures as it is just the recognition of the sound. The aim is for your child to recognise the initial letter sound, so for example, that a cat begins with a /kuh/.
Once J had become used to the picture cards we progressed to:
- Picture books (we have a few first words books which have a big two page picture and then individual pictures and their names around the outside which I found worked best for this game).
- Objects in a grouping (use a box or a tray to put them in).
- A room of the house or in the garden.
- Out and about – nature walk; at the beach; in the supermarket.
This game is great for keeping children busy on a car journey and around the shops, although, J still finds it quite hard when out and about as there is just so much to look at and he gets distracted.
I bury letters (we have magnetic and card letters) and ask J to find them. Once he finds them, I ask him to say the sound. If J still wants to play once he has found them all then he can order them. More often than not though, J just re-buries the letters to go hunting again because he likes looking for ‘treasure’.
I have used flour, sand and jelly to hide the letters in so far. This activity can be combined with a fine motor skills activity by adding in tongs to find the letters or by pouring the contents into a sieve to find the letters. J loves this game.
Next, I am planning on printing a grid for him to match the letters to once he has found them. I would also like to create a map and hide the letters in different places and mark them on a map and tell him to find them in the order of the alphabet. He is almost ready for this but he still gets his m and n and b, d and p very confused so I think he may find this a bit tricky at the moment.
J enjoys completing puzzles so we use this to help him with learning his letter sounds. We have a puzzle which is a picture of a jungle scene and has the alphabet around the outside. When J builds this puzzle I hold the box and ask him to look at the picture and to tell me which letter sound comes next. If he isn’t sure then I sound it out to him and show him what it looks like so he can find it.
We also have an alphabet crocodile puzzle and we do the same thing where J sounds out the letter when he finds it. I also use phrases such as, “Well done on finding a. What comes after a?” “B?” “Oh well done. B does come after a.” If J doesn’t know the sound then I point to the picture and say, “This is b. B comes after a. Can you find b?” “Well done, that’s b. Now put it next to a.” J is hearing the sounds repeated lots during the activity and in context and this has helped him to learn the sounds quickly.
The alphabet puzzles made a huge difference for J when learning the letter sounds and is probably the activity which helped him to make the most progress with his letter sounds.
There are so many alphabet puzzles around, but if you don’t have one you could draw the letters and ask your child to order them. This will use the same language reinforcement and letter sound and shape recognition.
Colour by Letters
Draw a picture, or if art is not your forte then cheat like me and print some pictures from the Internet. Divide the picture up into letters.
- You could focus on a specific letter which your child is struggling with and have lots of them and a few others and ask your child to colour in all the b’s for example.
- Or you could have the whole alphabet and ask your child to colour the letters in order.
- Alternatively, you could have a colour key and ask your child to colour a, d, f, p, s, u blue and b, e, h, k, r, z purple for example.
I hope these fun games and activities help to give you some inspiration for helping your child to learn their letter sounds. Let me know which ones your enjoyed with your child in the comments.
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