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Letter Sound Recognition Activities

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

The recognition of letter sounds is important for beginning readers. These activities focus on letter and sound matching as well as matching letters with the initial sounds of words.

Recognizing Letter Sounds

One of the building blocks of beginning reading is learning the sounds that letters make. Whether your students are kindergarteners, English language learners, or students receiving special education support, motivating letter recognition activities will help cement this important skill.

Initial Sounds Activities

Stand on the Letter

Objective: Match pictures with the letter that makes the initial sound.

Materials: Large letters A through Z; easily recognizable, unlabeled pictures; stopwatch

  • Preparation: Line up the letters A through Z on your floor (or in two lines, or a circle - whatever your space permits). It might be fun to play this game outside or in the gym.
  • Line up your students facing the letters.
  • Give each student a picture, face down.
  • Start the stopwatch and say go.
  • Students turn over their picture, find the letter that makes the initial sound, and stand on that letter. (For example, the student with a picture of a penguin stands on P.)
  • When all the students are on a letter, stop the time.
  • Each student should report their word and location, like this:
    • I have a penguin. Penguin starts with P. P says /p/.
  • Repeat with new pictures. Students might try to beat their previous time.

Object Sort

Objective: Match objects with the letter that makes their initial sound.

Materials: Set of objects - if possible, choose thematically appropriate objects related to your current curriculum; alphabet cards

  • Preparation: Line up the alphabet cards on the table, leaving some space between each card. (Option: Lean each card against a small basket, depending on the size of the materials you will sort).
  • Now, gather all the objects you want to have sorted and place them in a large basket.
  • Students take an object from the basket, put it with the letter that makes its initial sound (or in the small basket that is associated with that letter, if you used baskets), then return to the basket for another object. (i.e., Student picks up a mouse and puts it on M)
  • When all the objects are sorted, students sit or stand facing the letters. Look at the objects on the letters one letter at a time, and name them all together. (i.e., A says /a/: apple, ant)
  • This activity could be run as a center, or all the students could work on it simultaneously, or students could take turns and watch each other choose and sort their objects.
  • Alternative: Sort picture cards instead of objects.

Sound Scavenger Hunt

Objective: Match items with the letters that make the initial sound of their name.

Materials: 26 brown grocery-sized bags labeled with the letters A through Z, drawing materials

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