Teaching Letter and Letter Sounds
Many Early Childhood classrooms have a "Letter of the Week" to teach phonics. There is discussion among professional on the best way to teach Alphabet and Letter sounds. Here are some ways to select a "Letter of the Week":
- Use the order of the alphabet: each week teach the next letter in the alphabet.
- Relate the letter of the week to the theme of the week. For example while learning about Happy Halloween, focus on the letter "H", or in learning about winter weather, focus on the letter "W".
- Select the letter by popularity in print. Begin with more common letters first.
- Consider speech development milestones in sequencing letter of the week. Begin with early development sounds like "P" and "M". Normal Speech Development Chart
- Teach letters in clusters according to similarity in form to help with writing skills. For example, first begin teaching forming lines (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) and then start with letters that are made of straight lines ("I", "L", "T")
There are numerous activities to use to teach the "Letter of the Week" and letter sounds. LessonPix offers many custom materials to target specific sounds in teaching phonics such as picture cards, game cards, bingo games, and pattern strips. The Soundfinder Search Tool in LessonPix is a great tool to locate pictures needed. Soundfinder allows the user to type in a word that contains the desired sound. For example, when looking for "F" words, type in "fish". The Soundfinder will give the IPA symbols for each sound in the word. (IPA is the International Phonemic Alphabet- symbols that represent phonemes.) /f/ - /i/ - /sh/. The user can click on any sound or combination of sounds and look for words that contain the sound(s). The user can also request words that have the sound at the beginning, middle, and/or end of words.
Teachers can focus on auditory discrimination as they present pictures with the target phonemes in the beginning, middle, or end of words. For example, if the Letter of the Week is "D", choose pictures that contain a /d/ sound: dog, candle, spider, and bed. The teacher may ask students to identify if they hear the /d/ sound at the beginning or end (or middle). This auditory discrimination lesson is a great foundation for early decoding and early writing skills.
After using the Soundfinder Search Tool to locate pictures with target sounds, custom materials can be created. Picture cards are great to start with looking at the beginning letter sound. The teacher may create a chart with pre-printed pictures of "D" words. Then later in the week, students can sort which words start with the letter of the week (examples and non examples). Then by the end of the week, students may be able to sort picture cards into where they hear the sound: the beginning, middle or end.