Recognizing beginning sounds in words is a phonological awareness skill young students can use to become more independent readers and writers. For example, once students can recognize letter names and understand the initial sounds of a word, they can figure out the rest of the word. Being able to figure out the rest of the word is crucial for developing reading skills. In addition, as students figure out words based on initial sounds while reading, they will also develop writing skills.
However, before our students can apply this skill to their early reading and writing, they need isolated practice. Like anything in kindergarten, they have to practice the skill of identifying beginning sounds in different ways. In addition, students need to repeat these skills before they can truly master them. So, if you want to teach your students beginning sound recognition in a fun way, keep reading for new ideas to incorporate into your lesson plans. This article will cover my favorite phonemic awareness activities (sounds activities) for teaching beginning sounds to kindergarten students so they can master letter-sound associations!
One of the best ways to get students practicing their beginning sounds is with center games with moveable pieces. Typically, I have one set of cards that has the letters of the alphabet on them. On the other set of cards, I have picture word cards with every letter of the alphabet. As students look at the picture and say the name, they listen for the beginning sound. For example, if they see a card with a picture of an alligator, they can hear the beginning sound /a/ and match it to the letter Aa. I love this activity because it's a great way to teach individual sounds to young children!
I also like to use a pocket chart so students can see all of their matches. However, you can also have students lay the matches out on the carpet or their desks. Regardless of where they complete the center, students can practice beginning sounds in a fun and hands-on way.
Another way to teach beginning sounds is with magnetic letters. Magnetic letters are readily available in most kindergarten classrooms and are easy for kindergarteners to move and manipulate. One of my favorite ways to use them is by having students look at a picture beside a word that is missing the first letter. Then, they can fill in the missing letter with the magnetic letter, completing the word.
In another center game made for magnetic letters (or any moveable letter pieces), students can use a game board . It features different picture cards in different boxes. Similar to the matching game, students can listen for the first sound at the beginning of each picture. Then put the corresponding letter on top of it.
With more advanced students, you can even use these cards BINGO style. For example, the teacher can call out a beginning sound or a single letter. Then the student covers the picture with the matching letter. Using magnetic letters is an easy way to practice phonemic awareness skills such as beginning sounds. This is because it focuses on the initial sound of a letter!
You may think that worksheets aren't engaging enough to help students practice their beginning sounds. However, any practice is beneficial for students. Moreover, I have found that students love any kind of activity where they have to hunt for and find something. With this in mind, I created worksheets where students are given a particular letter. Then, they have to find and circle each picture that begins with that letter. You can also do an activity with a focus letter. Then, students have to find and color only the pictures that begin with that focus letter.
I love using simple worksheets because they're perfect for morning work. They are also a great option for reviewing old and new phonics skills! Young students require repetition for learning, especially with fundamental language development skills such as beginning sounds.
The Importance of Teaching Beginning Sounds in Kindergarten
As students learn beginning sound discrimination, they can do simple activities like looking at a picture and writing in the beginning sound. Using worksheets that introduce students to various beginning sound activities keeps the content fresh and more engaging. In addition, these beginning sound activities increase vital phonemic awareness of various sounds and letters, helping students become better readers and writers.
One of our largest roles as kindergarten teachers is to aid students in the learning process with various activities. Using a variety of engaging activities will help students become more independent readers and writers, which is a useful skill during the kindergarten years. In addition, it's crucial to use different ways of practicing beginning sounds through activities like worksheets, center games, and magnetic letter activities because it gives students the additional support they need for learning.
While these are just a few of my favorite activities, there are a lot of different ways to teach sounds. If there's a preferred way you enjoy teaching or find children love learning, I'd love to learn more about it in the comments!