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Searching for letter sounds and beginning sounds worksheets? You won't find those here. Transform your learning from home from pulling teeth to learning through play. My goal in creating Forward with Fun is all about using play to create hands on learning experiences. Kids are more likely to engage and remember new skills when they are actively participating in experience, especially if it's a game!

Learning letter sounds is essential to learning to read, and the most natural place to start is with beginning sounds. Worksheets are fine for busy work, but to make new knowledge really stick, you need to make it fun.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Siblings love smashing each letter sound in this play to learn phonics game.

Letter Sounds Stomp

How to Play: Letter Sounds STOMP

What you'll need:

Prepare to play "Letter Sounds Stomp" in 5 minutes or less:

  1. Write the first letter of each item on the index cards. Make sure you pick items that have first letters that match the most common sound of that letter. Things like “phone” or “ice cream” will confuse them!
  2. Make sizable balls with the Play doh, one for each index card and place them beside the index card.
  3. Put all the small items in the bag.

Invite your child to play:

I'm sure the set-up laid out before your child is sure to inspire and delight them. To invite them to play share your Bag of Letter Sounds. As you pull items out, one at a time, invite your child to search for the sound they hear at the beginning of the word, then find the matching letter on the ground. Once they find the letter that makes the correct letter sound they can jump, hop, or STOMP the Play-doh ball next to it!

Here is an example from our letter sounds play.

Me: What's this? A hammer. What sound do you hear at the beginning of the word hammer?

Big Sis: /h/ /h/ Hammer.

Me: What letter makes the /h/ sound?

Big Sis: The H!

Me: Alright, let's stomp the H!

If your child doesn't know a letter sound, remind them. No big deal. We love to sing this song we heard from a Leap Frog toy, "The B says /b/. The B says /b/. Every letter makes a sound. The B says /b/." If they don't know any letters, start with 2-3 objects. You can always simplify a game so they can still get important practice in with beginning sounds without knowing many letters!

For more fabulous hands on letter learning you'll definitely love The Hidden Object Game

and for a clever letter writing activity, check out Toy Rescue by familyedventures.com

When should my child know all their letter sounds?

I don't rush in to teach letters and sounds to kids before they're 4 years old, and even then, I go SLOWLY. Some show interest much earlier, and I've even heard of 2 year olds naming all their letters and sounds, but that's NOT the goal.

My goal as a teacher is to create a learning environment where kids LOVE learning from a young age. I seek to provide learning though play and hands on learning activities that make kids active agents in their education. Like I said, you wouldn't get an beginning sound worksheets here!

At 4 years old I would introduce letters, first ones in your child's name. Pick out 5 new letters to learn at one time, because visual overwhelm staring at 26 new abstract symbols on a page is NOT going to help your child learn.

In the Montessori philosophy, letter sounds are taught before letter names! I teach the letter names first, but I have always admired the Montessori way as it makes sense for learning to read, especially when some letters have names that don't correspond to their sound: C, H, W, Y.

As you work on your target letters, you can also teach the corresponding letter sounds. I find this is easier than waiting till your child knows ALL the letter names. At the end of Pre-K, kids should be able to write their names and name some letters and sounds.

If they're going into Transitional Kindergarten, that is more than enough. From my personal experience, going into Kindergarten, kids should know at least 10 letters and sounds to be on par with curriculum.

Mastery of all the letters and letters sounds should happen by the end of kindergarten! Did you think it was earlier? Later? Though we see many posts about people who have 3 year olds reading, that doesn't necessarily mean those kids will end up more advanced or better off?

It's also hard not to compare our own kids to those shiny moments on social media. But let this guide you, if you're making learning FUN and it's a time where you're really present to connect with your child, you're on the way to helping creating a LIFELONG learner.

The kids who do better in school are not the ones who could read by 3; they're the ones who LOVE learning.

Hands-on Learning: Ensure kids LOVE learning

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

Xunzi, Chinese Philosopher

The Fun Club will ensure your kid LOVES learning

Fun, Simple Learning

In The Fun Club all our activities are Hands-on learning experiences and games. Every Sunday, Fun Club Members get their weekly activities packet via email. Inside are 5 incredibly fun, learning activities crafted just for 4-5 year olds by a TK and Kindergarten teacher.

The activities are:

Each month has a mini supply list of things you'll probably already have: blue tape, Post-its, things like that and our members have a support community where they have access to a teacher, all the time! Don't hesitate to ask things like, "Is this normal?" "My 5 year old writes their letters backwards, should I correct that?" "What do I do when they can't sit still?" Yup, I'm here for all of it.

If you're someone who wants to connect with your child by doing awesome activities that will make them think you always have something new and fun up your sleeve, The Fun Club is the place for you.

Have questions? Email [email protected]

What is phonemic awareness? We have all heard of phonics when it comes to how to teach reading; remember Hooked on Phonics? But why have we never heard of phonemic awareness?

Well, it's the missing piece. If your child knows all their letters and sounds, but they cannot read, it is because they need to build their phonemic awareness. The best part is that it's not difficult to do, and I want to share how with you!

Phonemic awareness is the understanding that all words are made up of sounds, and those sounds can be manipulated to change words. It's an umbrella of auditory skills, so kids can actually practice these reading skills without even knowing any letters. These skills will be outlined in this post but include rhyming, blending, segmenting, sound isolation and others.

*As an Amazon affiliate, I may get a small commission for purchases made through links in this post.

Phonemic Awareness vs. Phonics:

Phonemic awareness is based on AUDITORY skills that manipulate phonemes (sounds) in words, while phonics' definition is based in VISUAL skills. Phonics is the teaching of reading through the understanding that letters or groups of letters make certain sounds.

An example:

Phonemic awareness: The word dog is made up of three sounds: /d/ /o/ and /g/.

Phonics: The word "dog" is made up of 3 letters: D, O, and G.

Phonics is all about LETTERS (that you see) and phonemic awareness is all about SOUNDS (that you hear).

5 Skills for Phonemic Awareness Mastery:

Here are the major phonemic awareness skills to know.

Rhyming- Phonemic awareness skill #1

I can assure you that you've already been teaching your little one to rhyme without being that aware of it. Each little rhyming song, and every rhyming book is building your little one's knowledge of phonemic awareness.

Rhyming words have the same ENDING SOUND.

Incorporate rhyming exercises next time to you sing a rhyming song. Stop before the rhyming word and take notice of it together:

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, how I wonder what you ___?

What word is missing? Are. Star and Are rhyme!

They have the same ending sound.

You can also do this as you read aloud to your child using a favorite book that is written in rhyme. My favorite series is the Llama Llama Red Pajama Books.

Another strategy is by using a "nonexample." This way kids pick out the word that doesn't rhyme: rat, bat, dog, cat. A hilarious book I always recommend for rhyming that teaches through nonexamples is called Rhyming Dust Bunnies.

*I'm a part of the Amazon Affiliates program which means I may get a small commission if you purchase through my link.

Sound Isolation: Beginning, Middle, and Ending Sounds-Phonemic awareness skill #2

I could probably write 3 blog posts about this phonemic awareness skill, but I'll give you the briefest version.

Beginning Sounds:

Sound isolation is something you're sure to be familiar with too, especially using the beginning sound.

What sound does rabbit start with? If you said R, you're wrong! The letter R is not a sound, it's a letter.

If you said /r/ (the sound that R makes), you would be spot on!

Sound isolation is the ability to isolate a sound in a spoken word. There is no need to put pencils onto paper when practicing this reading skill, in fact, my favorite way to teach sound isolation is to go on a scavenger hunt.

Go searching your home for 5 things that start with the sound /b/. Kids can engage in this without even knowing the letter B makes the /b/ sound.

Beginning sounds are the easiest to isolate because from an early age, kids are taught to associate regular life objects with a certain sound or letter. Once you throw in the letter it become phonics. "The word ball starts with /b/ /b/ /b/ /ball/." Speaking about the sounds in the word help your child discern those sounds on their own.

For a game that combines beginning sound phonemic awareness and phonics you've got to try Beginning Sound Stomp!

jumping feet on letters with playdoh next to them

Phonemic Awareness + Phonics: Beginning Sounds Game

Ending sounds:

After beginning sounds, I recommend isolating the ending sound of a word with your child. It takes some time, but practice stretching out a word by saying it as long as you can, and then emphasize the last sound: DOOOOOOOOG! (with a hard G).

In my classroom we often did this as a whole body exercise. Standing up we would choose the word, then we would stretch the word by elongating it all the while moving our hands from our heads down to our toes. The final sound that came at the toes was the ending sound.

If your child knows their letters, they can strengthen their phonemic awareness of ending sounds by playing toy rescue. In this game I taped small toys to the door with painters tape.

My kids had to rescue the items and place them on the correct ending sound. Because we are working on ending sounds the toys are not sorted by their final letter. Horse is sorted to "s" because that is the final SOUND in the word.

toys taped to a door

Ending Sounds Toy Rescue- Phonemic Awareness

Middle sounds:

Oh the middle sounds are one of the hardest phonemic awareness skills to teach. My theory is that they are usually vowel sounds, and often vowels sound similar or have multiple sounds.

When I talk about middle sounds, I mean the middle sounds of CVC words. These are the first words kids learn to read phonetically and they stand for consonant vowel consonant. If you want to know all about CVC words, check out this blog post that explains all about how to teach them.

Missing Middles is a game that fuses phonics and middle sound isolation. Check it out!

child placing magnetic letters on a tray

Missing Middle Sounds: Phonemic Awareness activity

To teach the middle sound kids will need to stretch out the word and hear what's in the middle, but often they'll learn middle sounds through our next major phonemic awareness skill.

Segmentation- Phonemic awareness skill #3

It sounds like what it is: segmentation is the ability to segment words into parts or individual sounds.

child's hand chopping playdoh worm

Karate Chop Words: Phonemic Awareness - Segmenting

This could be breaking down a word into syllables or into individual sounds, and it is most

often used as kids begin to sound out words as they write them.

Active learners love using "karate chop segmenting" to make this difficult auditory skill into a physical one. For beginners, start by segmenting words into syllables to get the hang of "chopping" the word. I have even used a long Play-doh worm as the chopping block. Kids practice segmenting the word by chopping the worm with their hand.

Rabbit becomes /ra/ and /bit/. Alligator becomes /a/ /li/ /ga/ /tor/.

Once kids understand they can move on to segmenting words into sounds, and often CVC words are the best way to do this. Dog becomes /d/ /o/ /g/.

This is an advanced phonemic awareness skill that takes time and patience. Other ways to make segmenting fun is to clap the word or break the word using a robot voice.

Blending- Phonemic awareness skill #4

Blending is a complementary to segmenting and is a bit easier to do. Given the segmented sounds, blending is the ability to put them together and hear the word they make.

Readers need blending skills to successfully decode words. As a child reads, they say the individual sounds that they see on the paper: /c/ /a/ /t/. This is called "sounding out."

Blending is the ability to take the sounds and combine them to make the word. In my years of teaching 100's of children, a majority of them would sound out the letters of the word but get stuck blending the sounds together, holding them back from reading.

I created an engaging, silly game called Guess the Animal that you can practice anywhere, anytime to help make blending second nature to these kids (and my own). We play it all the time!

Me: Guess the animal - /go/ /rilla/

Kids: Gorilla

Me: Guess the animal - /d/ /o/ /g/

Kids: Dog

Me: Guess the animal- /p/ /i/ /g/

Kids: pig

If you're just starting out with blending, I would start with the longer animal names before CVC animals because those are easier to pick out by hearing: turkey, alligator, gorilla, etc. You don't need to segment every single letter, you can even say "Guess my animal /a/ /ligator/" This gives kids practice blending the beginning sound onto the word.

As they get better, they can move onto the CVC words. Some animal CVC words are: pig, dog, cat, rat, bat, ram, fox, hen.

 

Phoneme Replacement- Phonemic awareness skill #5

Remember those classic Raffi songs Apples and Bananas or Willoughby Wallaby Woo? If you don't remember those, you'll for sure, have heard The Name Game (Shirley Ellis).

Those songs take a word in the song and replace the sound with another one. Nothing is written down, it's all spoken, making it a phonemic awareness skill.

Singing songs like these with your kids will help strengthen their ability to manipulate words which in turn assists them to become strong readers and writers.

Building Phonemic Awareness in Your Home

If you nurture your child's mind practicing these 5 phonemic awareness skills, they're sure to have success when it comes to reading. If you're still unsure how to incorporate these skills in a progressive format that will entertain your child and build a love of reading, I can help.

In The Fun Club I bring these skills (and many others) to your home through learning games and activities in an order and pace that makes learning to read easy and fun.

With 5 weekly activities and games that are simple to do and highly engaging, The Fun Club has transformed learning into a bonding, play-time between parent and child. I've had so many happy emails sharing that Fun Club kids are beginning to read, one of childhood's greatest milestones!

"These are perfectly thought out activities that get us up, moving and enthusiastic about learning. Now I have a 4 year old applying what she's learned from these activities on her own and beginning to read! I'm blown away." -Gladys, a Fun club parent.

Check out The Fun Club to learn more or try a week for free right here.

Letter sounds come right after learning letter names in reading. While some kids are naturally inclined to learn letters from a young age, others take longer and that's okay.

My mission is to making learning how to read (and that definitely includes learning letter sounds) fun and hands on. So if you're looking for a letter sounds worksheet or some alphabet flashcards, this isn't the place.

Instead I'm going to show you my most favorite, hands-on learning games to teach your child letter sounds so that they're just as excited about the alphabet as I am (that's super excited...ahem...kindergarten teacher).

10 Hands-on Games to Teach Letters and Letter Sounds:

The Letter Sounds Swat:

All you need are some Post-its, a fly swatter (or a hand), and you're ready to go. Call out letter names or letter sounds and have your little one jump and swat the letters. You can use numbers too!

Child swatting letters on a wall

Find the letter by its sound

Letter Sounds Toy Rescue!

Hide toys around the house or even just on a door with blue tape. Invite your child to play by telling them that the Toy Thief has stolen their precious toys and they, and they alone must rescue them.

At the rescue station, toys must be matched with their beginning sound, reinforcing the letter sounds while also working on phonemic awareness!

Toys taped to a white door

Match the letters to their sounds

Rescue the Letters:

Got salad tongs? Blue tape? Any container? Combine with letters for this fun challenge!

It's simple, really...call out the letter sound and have your child pluck the corresponding letter from the container below, maneuvering through the blue tape.

It's a wonderful chance to practice fine motor skills as well!

Letter Sounds Stomp!

Active kids don't like to sit to learn. Try Letter Sounds Stomp to get your child smashing their way to all their letters and sounds.

Two children jumping on letters

Letter Sounds Stomp

Hidden Object with Letter Sounds:

Got some tricky letters that continue to confuse your child? Pick out those 5 or so letters and place them on Post-its for this surprising little game that kids love!

Bowls with letters on them, child's hand on the bowl

Practice letter sounds and reveal a surprise

Pom Pom Toss for Letter Sound Recognition:

Much like my very viral Pinterest post for teaching Sight Words, you can place letters on Post-its, lining them up with a muffin pan.

Throw the poms poms at the muffin pan and yell the letter name and sound! Kids and adults love this hands-on learning game that happens to also improve your aim.

Loving letter sounds yet?

Letter Sounds Post-it Hunt:

Pick out those target letters your child is working on and write them separately on a piece of construction paper. Hide 4 Post-it notes of the same letter around your home and have your child seek out those Post-its.

As your child matches the Post-it letter to the matching construction paper letter, they say the matching letter sounds!

Bear's Bag:

Surprise, your favorite stuffed animal is going on a trip, but you need to pack some intriguing objects for it!

Place different letters in a bag. Take turns pulling out different letters and searching around the house that you can pack that begin with that letter sound.

Place the item with the letter and pack them for Bear's trip! Bon Voyage!

Bear with a bag, letter D with Dog, letter R with ring, letter C with candle

Learn letter sounds as Bear packs for a trip!

Zig-Zag Letter Sounds Balance:

Got some blue painters tape? Create some zig zags for your child to traverse. Along the way, place some Post-it notes with letters on it.

Give your child a way they must cross the path: tip toe, jump, hop on one leg, walk, skip.

Each time they come to a letter, they need to stop, name it, and say it's letter sound.

Do your kids love trains and cars? They can even use their vehicles to traverse the zig zag path encountering letters as train stations or stop lights.

child walking across a zig zag path with letters on it

Letter Sounds Movement Game

Alphabet Basketball:

I love this letter sounds game with a fine motor twist from School Time Snippets.

Alphabet Basketball Letter Sounds Game

Noisy Letter Jump Phonics Game:

Take the fun outside with some chalk and play this silly, active hands-on learning game from The Imagination Tree, a super awesome UK mama!

Noisy Letter Sounds Jump!

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My mission is to bring fun hands-on learning to your home through simple activities and games that capture your child’s interest.

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