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As your child builds confidence in figuring out which letters make up different words (see previous post here), it’s time to start teaching sounds. They have probably already started noticing what sounds are made by some letters, just through memorizing the words they’ve been spelling so far.

We can develop this skill by doing essentially the same letter board activity from the previous post, but this time, sounding the words out in addition to just spelling them.

I start this the same way as the basic letter board activities. I bring up a word card, and have them start spelling it with the board. However, instead of calling the letters by name, I’ll encourage my students to identify the sound each letter makes in light of the word.

Let’s say they’re looking for the word SNAIL. Instead of asking them to find the letter “S.” I’ll say something like “What sound comes first in the word Snail? (Make sure to annunciate the letter in question.) What letter makes the “sssssss” sound? From there, I ask my student to identify the sequential sounds in the word.

It’s OK if they’re silly with their letter combinations, or if they make a mistake. It’s a great teaching opportunity to show them how different sounds combine, and how some of them are or aren’t found in English.

In the following video, I’m modeling to my student which sounds make up the word snail. Since this is her first introduction to sounds, I haven’t challenged her to identify each sound yet. Instead, I make the sound myself as she puts each letter down, and demonstrate the sequential sounds as we build the words.

Afterwords, I demonstrate to her how “nail” is contained within the word “snail,” and we practice rearranging the letters to make new words (some silly ones too, to keep things fun.)



It takes a little bit of practice to get down, but with consistency, children should begin to see that letters represent sounds, and that spoken words are made up of different letter and sound combinations.

Now, in addition to using these methods, you should also be doing other language activities with your child. Read them story books with simple sentences they can follow, Eric Carle is great for this, and later on I’ll have some posts about reading with Eric Carle. Many people also use flashcards to help their children memorize some of the basic sight words (especially those with difficult spellings), so they are more familiar with them when reading and doing alphabet board activities. There’s no single correct path to follow when learning a language, so it’s important that your child is exposed to reading and speaking through many different activities. These activities will then build upon each other to help them have a greater understanding of the language as a whole.

Next, we’ll learn about recognizing common English sounds, such as “sh,” “ch,” “th” “ee” “ful,” etc. Plus, learn how to make a fun flip book for your kids to practice with!

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