September 20, 2015

How to Teach Beginning Sounds in Words

Teaching students phonemic awareness is an essential building block to helping students become readers. In Kindergarten, we spend a lot of time working on beginning sounds to help student learn how to isolate sounds and manipulate sounds in words. Once they master beginning sounds, it's much easier to learn other ending sounds, vowels, blends, etc. and start to decode words. 

When teaching sounds, make sure that students are saying the sound quickly and not making the UGH sound. It's /b/, not /buuuugh/. If students say the sound with the ugh sound after it, that will transfer to their writing and they'll put the letter U after letters where they don't belong. I always told students to watch my mouth when I introduce the sound. This helps them see how the sound is formed by watching the movement of your mouth and jaw. Then students would say it with me and sometime feel their jaw move. It sounds weird but helping them see, hear, and feel the sound, makes it easier to learn.

One thing that I used to do at the beginning of our literacy block was the book Phonemic Awareness: The Skills That They Need To Help Them Succeed by Michael Heggerty. It includes 10 phonemic awareness activities to do for each day. Then it varies the skills and activities weekly. 
These are quick 5 minute activities to do that progressively get harder as the year goes on. Below are examples of what the pages look like.
My first school gave all of our primary teachers one of these books, but when I moved corporations, I ended up buying it myself because it is that great! It's a bit pricey, but worth it. You can buy it here
When teaching beginning sounds, I used this simple set of Beginning Sound Picture Cards when working on identifying, recognizing, matching sounds, etc. The pictures are easy for students to recognize and this set includes sounds for long and short vowels too. We used these cards every day to review new and old sounds. 
Another thing that you can do for daily practice on sounds is my Sounds Fluency & Fitness bundle. It helps student say the beginning, middle, or ending sound they see and then throws in some exercise slides as well! Students LOVE doing these and don't realize they are learning. 
To get some independent practice on beginning sounds at the beginning of the year, I throw some of these games into literacy centers. These sound mats work on beginning sounds and are differentiated so students can either fill in the missing letters or use the version with the letters already on the page. These Beginning Sound Mats are in my TPT store, and I also have a bundle which includes beginning, ending, and rhyming sounds. 
These Build It Beginning Sounds centers help students fill in the missing beginning sound and then they can read the word. I differentiate these centers as well with cards that have a letter hint on the them and cards that are missing the beginning sound.
Stamping is always a simple, yet fun center. Throw these worksheets in centers for students to work on beginning sounds. It has the letters at the top that students will need to use, in case they need some extra help. This is included in my Stamping Bundle which works on many skills. 
You might also find my blog post 5 Way to Practice Beginning Sounds with Kindergarten RTI Students helpful for those students that are still struggling with their letter sounds.

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