You know your child needs to learn beginning letter sounds in order to read. Here’s an easy way to help your child learn the sounds.
When children are learning to read, it’s really important they have a firm grasp on beginning letter sounds.
Most parents know this – we know phonics is important. But beyond that, what is a parent supposed to do?
Are there any tangible non-screen tools? How are non-teacher parents supposed to work on this at home?
I created these Initial Letter Sounds printables for this reason – it’s an easy way to learn beginning letter sounds.
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Beginning Letter Sound Fluency is Important
You know phonics is important, but did you know that having automatic recall of beginning letter sounds is predictive of future reading success?
The National Early Literacy Panel did a meta-analysis of over 50 studies and found that fluency with alphabetic knowledge (i.e. letter names and sounds) was correlated with later reading success.
I’ve been pretty troubled to hear early childhood influencers proclaim we need to quit focusing on the alphabet. That it is just memorization and not a sophisticated skill.
Sure, recognizing letters and identifying the sounds they make is just recall. But
the recall of the alphabet and initial letter sounds is foundational for all reading.
So, yes, learning letter sounds and recalling them fluently (with no effort) is important.
What is Initial Letter Sound in Phonics?
You’re not a teacher, so you’re probably wondering, “what is a beginning letter sound?” It is the first sound or the beginning sound you hear in a word.
When you say cat, the initial sound is /c/.
In the word “chips,” the initial sound is /ch/.
Teach the Beginning Letter Sounds
So if you’re not going to do flashcards, and you don’t want to play learning games on a screen, how is a parent supposed to practice the letter sounds with their child?
I’ve got you covered! I created the Initial Letter Sounds printables for this reason.
There are pages for all the letters of the alphabet plus the long vowel sounds.
So that’s 31 pages, but they are in both color and black and white. Plus I included a tip sheet and a black and white cover. So it’s 64 total pages.
There are two ways to use these printables: as full-color fine motor mats or they can be assembled into a black and white workbook with the cover sheet.
When used as mat, just place it inside a sheet protector or dry erase sleeve.
These Initial Letter Sound printables become playful rather than drill and kill once you add in the fine motor tools!
My preschooler and I used the Initial Letter Sounds printables with play-doh!
We rolled play-doh balls to build hand strength. As we placed each ball in the dot on the picture we said,” A, apple /a/.”
Then we made play-doh logs. Rolling them is fun plus it helps with finger strength and dexterity.
We used the logs to explore and practice the letter formation.
The Initial Letter Sound printables are also great to use as a mat with pom poms. I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t like playing with pom poms.
And they are such a useful tool!
Children need lots of practice to build their pencil grip skills. Pinching pom poms and using short tongs help with this.
Your child needs to isolate the first two fingers and thumb to pick up pom poms. When they use a tool like tongs it builds hand strength.
We use a strawberry huller most often because it isolates the first two fingers, but any tongs are helpful!
As my daughter placed each pompom, she said, “N, numbers /n/.”
So it felt like playing with pom poms, but she build her letter sound fluency and fine motor skills at the same time!
Develop Fluency with Initial Letter Sounds Printables
But wait! There’s more! You can use these Initial Letter Sounds Printables as a workbook.
Just print out the black and white version. It comes with a cover. Assemble and staple!
Just like with the mats, there are two ways I like to use these printables.
Grab your favorite set of washable dot markers and have your child dot the center of each picture.
Each time they dot the picture, they have a chance to say the letter name and pictured word. Pictures stay in the brain longer than spoken sounds so pairing them is a really effective way to learn.
In this picture, my daughter says “A, astronaut, /a/“ each time she dots.
This develops the fluency with letter sounds that our children need.
If you don’t already use dot stickers in your home, you’re going to want to get some!
First of all, stickers make learning so fun.
Second, peeling those dot stickers off the sheets also isolates the thumb and index fingers. Again this strengthens fingers to build pencil grip.
For younger children, peel off the white part. For older children, leave it to make it more challenging.
Why Incorporate Fine Motor with Letter Sounds?
These Initial Letter Sounds printables were designed to incorporate fine motor for a reason.
We are trying to build fluency which means it happens automatically without any effort. One evidence-based approach is multisensory learning.
Children use three senses: hearing, seeing, ad touching. More senses mean more connections in the brain.
More connections in the brain mean more permanent learning.
Recapping Learning Sounds with Initial Letter Sound Printables
Here’s the recap for all you busy parents:
- Knowing the alphabet and letter sounds is important.
- It is correlated with later reading success.
- Not all kids will “just learn when they are ready.”
- Lots of kids will need lots of practice.
- You can use the Initial Letter Sound printables as a mat with play-doh or pom poms.
- Or you can assemble the black and white pages as a workbook and use dot markers or stickers.
- This is a multi-sensory approach which means it stays in the memory better.
Learning letter sounds is a big and important skill. A fun and easy way to introduce and build fluency is with the Initial Letter Sounds printables.