Introducing Sounds & Word Building to your Early Learners








So at this stage, it is safe to say your students have been properly introduced to the 26 letters of the alphabet. They are now able to understand and can recognize the consonants and vowels. The next best step in the right direction for your students would be to dig deeper into introducing the 44 sounds of the English Language.

However, to help you reinforce these important facts you’ve instilled in your students over time, I have created an Alphabet Anchor Chart Template to ‘build’ along with your students. You would do well to hold off placing the bottom portion of this chart until you have seen the video below.

Take a few seconds to watch this video. It would help you understand all the information that should be included on the chart when it is complete


Here’s what I do with my students;

When I realize my students are now able to identify and name 26 letters of the alphabet and understand basic facts such as vowels and consonant sounds as the two groups of letters, I pull out my “Name, Shape, Sound & Feel” Poster to further explain and reiterate more of these facts to help my students make the sound/letter connection.

Grab this poster for FREE in my TpT store. Click graphic for link.

Grab this poster for FREE in my TpT store. Click graphic for link.

As I hold this poster up I tell my students:

Every letter has a Name.  We have been working really hard to learn all 26 letters, so we know this fact.

Every letter has a shape.  We are all practicing tracing and some of us are writing letters, so we are aware of this fact.

Every letter has a sound.  We are going to begin learning the sounds to each of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Every SOUND has a…FEEL!!  How do you think we might discover how sounds feel??  {prompt students toward discovering where we make our sounds (mouth) what part of our mouths (tongue, teeth & lips) help to make different sounds.

At this point in the introduction process, the door opens for you to introduce how consonant and vowel sounds “feel”.  Providing your students with small mirrors from or from a dollar store, so that students can see their mouth when making the different sounds will serve as a helpful visual.  This also helps them make the connection with the sound and how it “feels”.

When introducing the vowel sounds, explain to students that their mouths would be open to varying degrees as they make each of the vowel sounds (long or short).  You might say:

We know vowel sounds are open because our tongue, teeth and lips do not block the vowel sounds.

*This would be a good time in the lesson to add the Vowel information to your anchor chart*

The freebie I shared in last week’s post, the short & long vowel “Desk Helpers” is a must-have at this stage of your students learning process. Tape it on their desks for a constant visual resource when learning the vowel sounds. Please head over to the last post and get it if you already haven’t.

When introducing the consonant sounds, start with “sneaky sound buddy” letters such as ‘p’ and ‘b’. The /p/ and /b/ sounds “feel” the same, so it is important to explain to your students that to effectively tell these sounds apart they must check if their voice is ON or OFF.  I also refer to this as VOICED or UNVOICED.

Show your students how placing two fingers gently on the middle of their throat as they make the /b/ sound, they will feel a vibration. While in contrast, when they make the /p/ sound, they will not feel the same vibration because we just use air to make the /p/ sound.  I usually like to take the lesson a bit further and explain to my students how two letters that “feel” the same sound differently:

“what you are feeling is our “voice box” which is like two rubber bands and when air rushes through, the vocal cords vibrate turning our voice on.  This is why we can hear each other when we talk.  Some consonants are made just using air, like the sound of /p/ & others we use our voice, like the sound of /b/.

This procedure should be implemented repeated with more Sneaky Sound Buddy sounds pairs like:

  • t/d
  • f/v
  • k/g
  • ch/j
  • s/z

It is also important to have your students understand what blocks each consonant sound such as the tongue, teeth or lips. Some sounds such as the /k/ and /g/ sounds are harder than others to determine what is blocking.  Lead your students to ‘feel’ the back of their tongue rising and “kicking” out the sound for /k/ and /g/.

*This would be a good time to add the Consonant information to the anchor chart and display in your classroom*

At this point in the school year, teaching digraphs & trigraphs to kindergartners with success is a lofty goal, especially if they are still struggling to identify the 26 letters of the alphabet. But, I’d be remiss not to mention the more involved 2-3 letter phonograms that you may be ready to introduce to some of your kindergarten students.

Digraphs are an example of the phonograms, like th, ch, sh, ai, ay, ee, oo, each making one unique sound, as well as Trigraphs like, tch, dge, or igh, each making one sound.

In order for an early learner to be able to one day decode words for spelling and in reading, they will need to know the 74 phonograms of the English language, including Diphthongs & Combinations. In line with the process of multisensory style of teaching and learning, visual reminders of these phonograms using key pictures are important to help students make successful connections with the phonograms. See the ones I created for my students below.

Teaching and reinforcing all the digraphs and trigraphs, combinations and diphthongs are probably more appropriate for First to Third grades at this point in the year. Some digraphs, such as th, ch, sh are introduced in the Spring of Kindergarten, so grab these because they will help with the introduction & reinforcement of these phonograms.  It might be a great idea for Kindergarten, First, Second and Third graders to share the cards which are more suitable to their grades.  This way the student can progress & build their “sound deck” through the grade levels.



Now your students have been properly introduced to and understand the 44 sounds and it is safe to say at this point, they are ready to be introduced to syllable patterns and word building!!

We always have a little fun discovering what a syllable feels like, first.  I tell my students that a syllable is simply the “opening of the mouth”.  We put our hand flat under our jaws and say our names, counting the syllables in each name.  The students LOVE this!!  Next, I help them make the connection between how vowel sounds cause our mouth to open and each syllable has to have a vowel sound in it.  I remind them that when we make a vowel sound our mouths will be open, so when our mouth opens for each syllable in a word, it does so because of the vowel sound within the syllable.

Vowels sounds make their different sounds because of the syllable pattern they are in within a word.  This is how we know to read the ‘o’ in ‘dog’ with short vowel sound and not a long sound.

I introduce the Closed and Open Syllable Patterns first.   The Closed Syllable Pattern is where the vowel is closed off by a consonant, like in the word “dog”.  The Open Syllable Pattern is where the vowel is in Final position of the syllable & is free to say its name. I show these posters at the same time:

Slide3 Slide4

Grab this set of Syllable Pattern Posters which include thearrow-1se two posters as well as the other seven syllable patterns in the English language.

I would advise that you spend a lot of time with these concepts.  It takes some and in most cases, most of your students a valuable amount of time to make connections between recognizing each of the syllable patterns within words and decipher how to make the short or long vowel sound when putting the sounds all together.

I expose my students to many words that contain both Closed and Open Syllables.  This Syllable Pattern Resource contains open and closed syllable words along with word sorts & bingo games to provide your students with fun ways to learn to recognize & read Closed and Open Syllable words.


Another multi-sensory activity I incorporate into whole and small groups is SLAP!  This is a simple, yet very engaging activity which builds auditory and visual confidence when word building.  This activity provides a very structured way for students to use successful strategies when spelling and reading.  It reinforces the sounds in the Initial, Medial and Final positions.  If you have been following me on my Facebook page, Turning Around Dyslexia, you have seen some of these videos & pictures of this game in action!




SLAP! is an activity you can use all school year as it has a simplistic design that allows it to grow with your students throughout the school year.  This resource comes with 24 word lists for practice with elision (adding, taking away or switching sounds to make a new word) There are 3 detailed activities to help you get started using this game with your students.  The materials you need are most likely in your classroom already.


You can grab your SLAP! activities at a special 50% off price this week!!

I would love to hear from you about how the activities included in SLAP! worked for your students or how you plan to incorporate it into your word work stations, whole or small groups times. Let me know in the comments or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Have a great week!!


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