Learn at Home Activities for Letter Sounds (A.K.A. Phonemes)
These activities can be used to teach, review and reinforce whatever letter sounds or phonemes your child is learning. If your child already knows the 26 basic sounds, use these activities to increase their fluency (ability to produce the sounds quickly and effortlessly when they see the letter). If they are fluent with the basic sounds of the alphabet, they can begin learning digraphs (two or more letters that, when put together, represent one sound, for example, consonant digraphs such as sh, th and ch and vowel digraphs such as ea, oo, ai).
Watch this 5-minute video for a run down of the 44 phonemes in English and tips for teaching them accurately.
Introduce and practice letter sounds using the Match, Select, Name approach:
Using a grid of 4 spaces, write one letter in each space. Copy the letters on a second grid and cut apart to create individual letter cards.
Match– Say the sound for the letter on the individual cards and have your child match each letter to the same letter on the grid. Do this 2-3 times.
Select– Put the individual cards on the table and say each sound, one at a time. Have your child select the letter representing the sound you say and give it to you. Do this 2-3 times.
Name– Show the individual letter cards to your child, one at a time. Have them say the sound. Do this 2-3 times.
If your child is having trouble at any stage of this activity, help them to find or say the letter sound. This activity is meant to expose your child to the target sounds, not to test them.
Reinforce and review using motivating games:
The Letter on the Bus– Print and cut out a picture of a school bus (or use an actual toy bus). Put two or three letter cards on the table and ask your child to choose the letter that says (__). Have your child put the letter on the bus and sing the song, “The letter on the bus goes _, _, _ …” together.
Feed the Monster– Put 4 letter cards on the table and using a monster (or other) puppet, say “feed me (letter sound)”. Your child then chooses the letter card you asked for and feeds it to the puppet. Make silly eating noises to make it more fun. You can also do this with a picture of a monster face glued on a box with the mouth cut out.
Letter Sound Chants– Use a microphone as a prop and encourage your child to say their letter sounds in several different ways. For example, shouting, whispering, singing, cheering, etc.
Delivering Mail– Put 4 letter cards and a mailbox (any empty box with a slit cut in it) on the table. Ask your child to “Mail the letter that says ___” . Your child then chooses the letter card you asked for and puts it in the mailbox. Or… let your child choose which letter card to mail and have them say the sound before putting it in the box.
Bean Bag Toss- Choose several letters that your child has been learning and print them on large pieces of paper (you can use coloured paper and/ or cut into shapes if you want). Spread the shapes out on the floor and ask your child to throw a beanbag on the letter representing the sound you say. Or… flip the shapes upside down to hide the letters and take turns jumping, dropping, or placing bean bags on the shapes. Turn the selected shape over and give your child the first chance to say the sound. If they do not say the sound or they say it incorrectly, say the sound correctly for them and have them repeat after you.
Jump and Shout– Use large colored shape cut outs with letters written on them to create a path from one end of the room to the other. Have your child say the sound for each letter before jumping onto that shape. Encourage them to see how quickly they can jump across the room.
Bowling- Tape letter cards to plastic bowling pins. Spread the pins apart so your child can aim for one pin only. Ask your child to knock down the letter that says, “____”. Or… ask your child to roll the bowling ball to knock down the pins. Have say the sound for each letter that he knocks down.
SWAT!- Put 4 letter cards on the table and have your child “swat” the word you say with a fly swatter. Or…place a small fly cutout on one of the letters and have your child say the sound before “swatting” it with the fly swatter.
Whack a Mole- Put 4 letter cards on the table and have your child ‘bonk’ the letter representing the sound you say with a plastic hammer or other ‘bonking’ toy.
Magic Wand– Attach a paper clip to individual cards with a letter you are teaching written on each one. Place the cards on the table or floor. Say a sound and have your child use their magic wand (magnet) to pick up the corresponding letter. Or… try facing the cards down and have your child select one card at a time and say the sound.
Letter Sound Parking Lot- Arrange several of your child’s letter cards to look like parking stalls. Use a small car, say a sound and ask them to park their car on the letter that matches the sound you said.
Flashlight Hunt– Write letters on cards and tape all over the room. Turn out the lights and have your child shine a flashlight around until they come across a card. Have them say the sound and then continue with the game.
Hopscotch– Hopscotch with a twist! Create an old-fashioned hopscotch board on your sidewalk and write a letter in each square. Have your child say the sound each time they hop on a square.
High Fives– Trace your child’s hand and cut out multiple copies. Stick the handprints around the house. Write one of the letters you are teaching on each handprint. Have your child give a high five to each letter as they say the sound.
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