Consider the following fun activities to help children in your program identify and become sensitive to how language sounds.
- Have children listen to a poem or story and clap every time they hear certain sounds. Start with easy sounds like “ee” or “oo,” and then focus on more difficult sounds like “ch” or “tr.”
- At the beginning of the day identify a sound or word of the day. Tell the children to listen for this sound or word and every time they hear it they should high five each other or keep a tally on the wall.
- Sit on the floor with one or two children. Say a word or phrase and teach the children to roll a ball back and forth to each other for each word or sound in the phrase.
- Read a sentence or word to the children. Have them clap for each syllable or word.
- Put all the names of the children in the class (or familiar words) on index cards and in a basket. Pass the basket around at snack time or circle time and have each child take turns picking a card. Have the child read the name or word and count the syllables. If you are doing this during snack time you might use snack-related words. Use pictures and help children read the words.
- Read books with lots of rhyming words. Talk about the rhyming words and how the ends of the words sound the same. Read the book and pause at each rhyming word. Have the children “fill in” the rhyming words.
- Read nursery rhymes to the children and have them act them out. Include props, materials, or pictures for all the major rhyming words. Pass them out before you read the story and have the child who has the prop or picture name other words that rhyme with their word. Let other children help him or her.
- Teach the children to stand up or walk around in a big circle while the teacher lists rhyming words. Have them sit down when they hear a word that doesn’t rhyme. Have them identify another word that rhymes.
- Draw a picture on a dry erase board that represents a story you are reading or the classroom theme. Say a word that rhymes with a word in the picture and have one child erase the object. For example, draw a picture of a zoo with several animals. Have the children identify which word rhymes with meal and have them erase the seal. Continue until the whole picture is erased.
Word sound games
- Put pictures of the children in the class or familiar items in a basket. Pass the basket around and have children take turns identifying the picture and naming the beginning or ending sounds.
- Choose a sound and tell the children. Begin listing off words that contain and don’t contain your chosen target sound. Have the children put their thumbs up if the word begins with the special sound and thumbs down if the word does not begin with the sound. Write the words that contain the sound on a white board.