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.

Our New Home Reveal - a Modern Makeover

If you've been wondering why I haven't been posting on my blog, creating TPT products, or on social media much in the past month, it's because I've been BUSY remodeling our new house! My husband and I recently moved and downsized quite a bit. It's just the two of us, so we don't need much! If we could be house flippers, we totally would! I love picking out all the finishes for a house and shopping for new home decor. We actually remodeled our first home all by ourselves (young & dumb) :), this time, we decided it was worth paying someone else to do the major stuff! I have pictures of all the before/afters, but I'll show you mostly afters.

I know this post is completely unrelated to teaching. #sorrynotsorry I'm just so excited to share what I've been doing for the past month---if you don't care, you can exit your screen now ;)

 Here's our house BEFORE.
 We cleaned up the landscape, got new lighting, and painted shutters/front door.
We have all new lighting throughout, new floors, new wall paint, new door/trim paint, etc. Are you ready??
 Here's the view when you open the door. 
 Since I'm super OCD, here's my organized office. 
 Living room BEFORE (that wall is going down!)
 Boom! Open space now! 
 Kitchen was nice, but not our style.
 We painted the cabinets, added recessed lights, new counters, new appliances, new floor. 

I have to say the backsplash is one of my favorite parts of the house! It's a gray stone with pieces of stainless steel.
 What's the point of this half wall? GOODBYE
 I'm standing where that wall was! 
 Can you tell we love modern decor? 
 Guest room - who's coming to visit?
Guest bath
Mater bedroom
 Master bath- didn't change anything
It's nice in here, not totally my style, but this would've been an expensive overhaul! I have to say that living on 1 level makes the water pressure and temperature SO much better in a shower! 
We LOVE sitting not the screened in porch. 
 We took out a big bush & tree so we could see a better view of the golf course behind us.
If you are looking at remodeling or shopping for new home items, SHOP around!! I used a ton of coupons and price matched at a lot of places! We also shop at Ikea, HomeGoods, At home, Target, Meijer, etc. where you get nice stuff at lower prices. Always see if furniture stores will negotiate! We got our patio furniture half off the sale price just because we just asked for their bottom dollar. :)

I am SO SO SO happy with how everything turned out! I did lose my closet room :( but have a big walk-in closet, so I managed. Blake said a guest room is probably more important than a closet room--- that's up for debate! I know this post was different than my normal post, but I hope you enjoyed a peek into my life!

Back to School - How to Set up Your Centers

My collaborative blog, The Elementary Entourage, is having a Back to School Bash linky party where we get to share ideas, lessons, tips, and FREEBIES with all of you!  Since schools around Indiana have been in sessions for weeks now, I'm not going to share open house or first week ideas with you. Instead, I thought I'd share some tips on how to get your centers started. 

Organizing Centers

Last Summer, I spent HOURS sorting all of my centers into tubs by skill. I used to do it month by month because I had many themed activities. When I wanted to review a skill, it was hard to remember where it was. The containers with white lids are my math activities and the teal lids have reading activities. Being organized with save you A LOT of time when prepping centers.
Once I am ready to put activities into my centers, I use these plastic containers with lids. Having lids instead of open containers is so much nicer and keep everything together and organized. I only put 2-3 activities in each center. If there is an activity I find very useful, I will tell them they have to do that first, then they can choose the other games to play. 
I have changed the way I organize my center chart many times over the year whether it be how many kids are in a group, how many centers to have going at once, what to name the centers, etc. This chart below is when I did a bit of Daily 5 activities the year I taught 2nd grade. I have math cards as well and they are all editable so you can make them fit your classroom. You can find these Reading & Math Center Cards in my TPT store.
When I first started teaching, I had many centers going at once. That was a bit too hard to prepare for and keep organized.  Below are the Literacy Center Cards that I used to use. It also seemed that many of them could've been combined such as 1 center called "library" instead of listening, big books, puppets, etc. Those are all about reading and interacting with books, so I've started to make my centers more vague instead of so specific. Over the years, I've found that fewer students in a center, the better. It keeps the noise level down and keeps them focused.

Setting Up Centers

When starting centers at the beginning of the year, it is CRUCIAL to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL everything, especially in Kindergarten! Students need to see what noise level they are supposed to work at, how to play the games, how to work with friends, what to do if there is a problem, how to get out the centers, how to clean up, how to rotate, etc. You cannot assume that they know what to do! Start off s-l-o-w by playing the activities whole group, then let students model how to do it. It will take a month or 2 before you are fully running centers. That is ok!!

One way to make centers easier for students is to have consistency. I have many of the same activities throughout the whole year, so all I have to do is switch the skill, but the students already know the format and rules of the activity. This game below has students working on practicing letters and sounds. I use this game format all year, but switch out the game board for a new theme, and switch the cards for sight words, word families, numbers, money, etc.
This game can be played where students match up uppercase and lowercase letters, match the letters to the correct beginning sound, or play Memory with the cards. I like when activities can be played in a variety of ways to make it interesting for students. It's also an easy way to differentiate learning for your students. I will also do similar games like this for math and reading centers throughout the year.
This activity below is as easy as filling in the missing numbers. Once again, change out the worksheet and the students are ready to go!
Graphing centers are another activity I do monthly. Students can never get enough graphing! I put the colored worksheets in sheet protectors to make them re-usable and the students love using the dry-erase markers with these! It also save me on copies. In Kindergarten, the students answer the questions about their graph with drawings until they are able to write. 
You can grab this FREE back to school graphing game here
All of these center activities and more can be found in my Back to School Literacy & Math Bundle.

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