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Teaching Letters with Sounds using Magnet Letters

Magnet letters are a super engaging way to teach letters with sounds or without to your young child. Incorporate magnet letters easily into reading and literacy activities perfect for kids who are just exploring letters and those who are beginning readers.

Using the BEST magnet letters from Coogam, we have created tons of reading games to learn letter names and teach letters together with their sounds.

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This set of letters make much more visual sense for kids to work with than other multicolored magnet letters you usually see:

  • Includes both LOWERCASE and CAPITAL letters, so you can focus on one, the other, or both.
  • Vowels are a different color. When Big Sis is building her own words, I remind her that she needs to include a RED letter (vowel) in her word or it won't make sense (or a "y").
  • The organized container has labels for each letter so kids can find what they need without getting visually overwhelmed and it's an easy sorting activity to have the kids clean up!

Also don't buy a fancy magnet board; you just need any old kitchen tray!


Magnet Letter Play to Teach Letters with Sounds and Letter Recognition

Letter Exploration Magnet Tray: Beginning Letter Recognition

Baby placing letters on the tray and associating them with their sounds.

Exploring letters with or without sounds can be a great introduction to phonics.

My little one loves to explore with her magnet letters. She's 22 months and starting to show interest in learning letter names recently.

Lil Sis loves to pick out the same letters as Big Sis and repeat their names as she puts them on her tray. I am NOT of the mind that we need to teach kids letters this young, but if they pick it up on their own, what could be better?

Another learning opportunity with letter exploration is introducing each letter with its sound. As your child picks out a letter, you share the sound that letter makes, to start exposing them to the idea that letters make sounds.

Or if you are only learning the names of letters, kids can match lowercase and capital letters. If you want to target specific letters, limit the number of letters they're playing with. Too many new letters can cause visual overwhelm.

Missing Middles: Teaching Phonemic Awareness and Letter Sounds

Child finding the missing vowel letters using knowledge of sounds to make words with magnet letters on a tray.

Letters with Middle Sounds Missing Game

Part of learning to read and write is being able to isolate beginning, middle, and ending sounds of words.

Breaking up a word into all the sounds that compose it is called "segmenting." This hands on activity helps emerging readers isolate sounds and segment words.

Sound isolation and segmentation are part of an umbrella of skills that build phonemic awareness, which is essential for kids to have when learning to read.

In this example I made mostly CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words that were missing their middle sound. Begin with beginning sounds, then work on ending sounds, and finally middle sounds as they're the most difficult.

Looking at the tray, I read each word that was missing its middle letter to Big Sis.

Vowels are the hardest letters to match with their sounds, so being able to segment a word, isolate the middle sound, and then find the letter with the right sound is a multi-step process.

It was great to have the Coogam letter magnets since she could easily focus on the red letters for this difficult task. It also was a natural way to bring up vowels and consonants and examples of each.

Making Words: For Beginning Readers

child putting magnet letters on a tray to make words that are either made up or real. Using letters with their sounds to create meaning.

Matching letters with sounds to create words

For a more abstract challenge, I had Big Sis make her own words, only specifying that they need to all include at least one red letter (a vowel).

She decided she would place letters on the tray and then read them to see if she had created a real or a silly word.

Through this creative game she was matching letters with sounds, constructing words, reading words, and then using comprehension skills to determine if the word was real or silly.

Another way to play would be to say a word and have your kiddo spell it out phonetically on the tray. To be honest, I loved her creativity in making silly words and enjoyed hearing her sound them out more than my original idea!

How kids learn to read... It's more than just associating letters with sounds!

May 17, 2021

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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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