You know your child needs to know letter sounds, but how will they learn them? The Initial Letter Sounds printables are a fun and easy way!
When children are learning to read, it’s really important they have a firm grasp on the letter sounds.
Most parents know this – we know phonics is important. But beyond that, what is a parent supposed to do?
Are there any is a 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.
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Letter Sound Fluency is Important
Before we get to the printables, I’m going to get on my soapbox.
Knowing the alphabet and letter sounds is important.
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 that recall is foundational for all reading.
The National Early Literacy Panel did a meta-analysis of over 50 studies and found that fluency with the alphabetic knowledge (i.e. letter names and sounds) was correlated with later reading success.
So, yes, learning letter sounds and recalling them fluently (with no effort) is important.
Some Children Need a lot of Help with Letter Sounds
The well-intentioned expression, “Don’t worry – they’ll learn when they are ready” is incredibly flawed.
At best, it is dismissive of a parent’s concern. At worst, it is ableist or harmful.
Children with developmental disabilities or a learning disability don’t “just learn when they are ready.” This attitude is ableist because it only considers how most typically developing children learn.
My daughter has a developmental disability. Delaying her services because she would “just learn when she is ready” would cause her to be further delayed in skills critical for learning.
6% of children have a developmental disability and 14-20% have a learning disability. We’re talking 20-25% of children have some sort of issue with learning.
Does their education matter? If so, we need to stop saying they’ll “just learn it.”
Letter sound fluency is a big skill and lots and lots of preschoolers and early elementary children are going to need lots and lots of practice.
So if you have a concern about your child’s academic skills, it is valid!
And if you want to work on letters and sounds with your preschooler because you believe it’s an important skill, that’s valid, too.
Letter Sounds is ONE Important Skill
Hear me out:
The alphabet and letter sounds is NOT the only skill that is important. There are many social and emotional skills that are equally important.
So I do not want you doing flashcards with your toddler. Your 3-year-old does not need to trace letters before they can even hold a pencil.
There is no reason for drill and kill.
But you know your child best. You might know that your child excels with social skills but struggles with pre-academic skills.
So then it makes sense to practice tracing lines and drawing circles and learning the letter sounds.
Or maybe your child already has a solid grasp on letter sounds and you need to do some Social-Emotional Learning at Home.
Either way, you are the parent and you know what your child needs.
There is a good reason to teach your child letter names and letter sounds in a playful way, and you have my permission to ignore people who tell you otherwise.
Initial Letter Sounds Fine Motor Mats
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.