Miss Priss has a new nightly homework assignment. She brings home sound cards, and we review letter and word sounds with her to practice the phonics instruction she gets at school. Miss Priss thinks it is a little boring since she already knows her letter sounds and has a pretty good reading level for a 6-year old. I am trying to explain the importance of recognizing individual letter sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words and how letters combine to make specific sound patterns in English. My teacher explanation is lost on her.
TheRoomDad actually saved the day on this one because he started creating word games at the dinner table that take care of the sound practice without making it seem like we are running flashcards (point for TheRoomDad). Any child at the beginning stages of reading needs a good foundation of letter sounds and how sounds combine. This will translate into good reading and spelling skills down the road when kids encounter unfamiliar words. Whether your family has actual sound cards or not, play some sound activities at the dinner table, in the car, during bath time, walking down the aisles at the grocery store, or any random free moment to reinforce good reading skills.
Name words that have a particular sound at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
- Give your child a starting sound/letter and call out any words that begin with that sound. If you call out “M” as in marshmallow, name other words that start with the “M” sound (monkey, mommy, moon). Now move the “M” sound to the end of words. Call out any words where you can hear the “M” at the end (home, lamb, room, clam). Don’t worry if the word is not spelled with an “M” at the end. For this activity, children are listening for the sound only. Now, find words with the “M” sound in the middle. This activity is the hardest (lemon, computer, hammer). If you want to throw a little extra challenge in the mix, try to think of words that have the “M” sound in the beginning AND middle (mummy, mermaid).
Create a whole sentence that includes words that all start with the same sound.
- This is harder than you might think. Throw out a sound and see if your child can create a whole sentence with words that start with the same sound. You could also play a game where each person adds one word going around in a circle. Try making a sentence will all “S” sounds at the beginning, for example (Sally swam speedily). See who can make the longest sentence with words that all start with the same letter.
Find pictures in magazines, catalogs, reading books, etc. that have specific letter sounds at the beginning, middle, or end.
Give a category and name any words that start with a specific letter sound for that category (animals, desserts, jobs, sports, etc.).
Not only will these simple strategies build sound awareness, they will also build vocabulary. It may seem super easy to a child to list words that match a letter sound, but it will strengthen phonics skills and contribute to better reading skills in later grades. Anyone have suggestions for other simple word games you can play with children that will have a positive impact on reading and spelling skills?