Teaching Beginning Sounds
Beginning sounds are a critical skill that needs to be developed in preschool and kindergarten. Phonemic awareness is important, and identifying initial sounds is just one component of phonemic awareness.
Learning to recognize beginning sounds paves the way for early reading and writing and helps with oral language development. In this post, I’ll share 7 fun and simple ideas for teaching children beginning sounds.
4 Reasons to Teach Beginning Sounds
- Phonemic Awareness: Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Teaching beginning sounds helps children develop this crucial skill, which forms the basis for reading and writing.
- Reading Readiness: Understanding the relationship between letters and sounds is a fundamental aspect of learning to read. When preschoolers can identify the beginning sound of a word, they are better equipped to decode and recognize words while reading.
- Vocabulary Expansion: Learning beginning sounds helps children expand their vocabulary. By recognizing the initial sounds in words, they can more easily connect new words to their existing knowledge.
- Communication Skills: Strong phonemic awareness also improves a child’s ability to communicate effectively. It enhances their pronunciation and listening skills, leading to clearer speech and comprehension.
How to Teach Beginning Sounds
I Spy: Engage preschoolers in a fun game to begin learning beginning sounds. Say, “I spy something that begins with /b/.” Be sure you say the letter and not the sound. You can gauge which children know beginning sounds by those who make reasonable guesses that begin with that letter.
Alphabet Books: Choose alphabet books that emphasize beginning sounds. Encourage your child to identify and discuss the initial sounds of each letter as you read together. I especially love alliteration books to emphasize beginning sounds. Check out some of my favorite Alphabet Books on this blog post.
Letter-Sound Associations: Teach children the sounds associated with each letter of the alphabet. Use flashcards or visual aids to help them recognize and remember these sounds. When I hold up the letter A card that has an apple on it, I lead them in chanting A, apple, /a/. We do this daily for every single letter!
Beginning Sound Mystery Bags: Fill a brown paper bag with several items that all begin with the same letter. If you can’t find actual objects to include, you can always place pictures of the objects in there. Pull out one item at a time, and have children name it. After pulling out all the objects, have children guess the mystery sound. For example, place a stuffed dog, a donut, a diaper, and some dirt in a bag. The children should guess that the mystery sound is /d/ for D.
More Fun Ideas for Teaching Initial Sounds
Anchor Charts- Work together to create letter sound anchor charts. I like to make a circle map on chart paper and have each child think of a word that begins with that letter to add to our chart. Our letter “B” chart had a bat, baseball, basketball, book, and boy on it. We also make alphabet anchor charts for each letter. If you need help making your anchor charts, check these out!
Digital Games- I love to use BOOM learning digital games with my Pre-k students. I created several alphabet games that include letter sounds and beginning sounds. The games are self-checking and can be played on a tablet or Smartboard. The kids love them!
Word Family Activities: Explore word families (e.g., -at, -in, -op) with children. Create word family charts and have children change the beginning sound to make a new word. For instance, they might change out the beginning letters for the -at family to make mat, cat, sat, rat, and bat. These CVC words are always great beginning words for decoding and seeing how important letter sounds truly are!
The Ultimate Beginning Sounds Toolkit
Because I know how important beginning sounds are in a child’s phonemic awareness development, I created an entire toolkit to use with my Pre-K class. This toolkit would be perfect for kindergarten as well. It includes 12 different Beginning Sound games/centers/activities as well as 11 no prep printables.
These activities are all hands-on and engaging, and children will love doing these at circle time, in small groups, or at center time. You can check them out below.
Beginning Sounds are so Important
Teaching preschoolers beginning sounds is an important step in teaching them to become readers. Initial sound mastery enhances phonemic awareness, reading readiness, vocabulary, and communication skills, setting a solid foundation for future learning. By incorporating engaging, hands-on activities into their daily routines, teachers can make learning beginning sounds a fun experience for young learners.
Try out these activities in your own preschool or kindergarten classroom and watch your children master beginning sounds once and for all!