Consider the following fun activities to help children in your classroom identify and become sensitive to how language sounds.
- Record sounds in your classroom or school (door opening, feet walking, eating a crunchy snack, toilet flushing, etc.). Have your students LISTEN carefully and try to guess what they hear.
- 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.
- Play “telephone” at first with one word or an animal sound (or a sound from a story you’re reading). Over time progress to add more words and eventually sentences. Encourage children to be accurate and repeat exactly what they hear.
- Introduce the children to the nature of syllables by leading them to clap and count the syllables in their own names.
- 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.
- Put all the names of the children in the class (or familiar words) on index cards and in a basket. Sit in a circle and pass the basket from one child to the next while music plays. When the music stops, whoever is holding the basket pulls out a card and reads the child’s name on the card. The class repeats the name and claps out the number of syllables or parts as they say the name (e.g. Mor-gan has 2 claps, Em-i-ly has 3). Continue with the music until all names have been pulled from the basket. Use pictures and help children read the names or words.
- Tell the children, “Today we’ll be making Sound Soup - all the ingredients must begin with the /s/ sound.” Fill the bowl with items such as salt, spaghetti, and strawberries. Add in some non-food items for fun (e.g., straws, socks, and sleeping bags). For additional fun and practice, have the children stir the soup.
- Make up fun, silly alliteraton sentences using a letter chosen by the children, for example:
- A big bug bit the little beetle but the little beetle bit the big bug back.
- Great green gorillas growing grapes in a gorgeous glass greenhouse.
- Beautiful blue butterflies basking by a babbling brook.
- Eight enormous elephants expertly eating easter eggs
- 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 them.
- 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.
- Place several small objects in a covered basket. The teacher reaches into the basket and says, “It starts with /f/ and rhymes with ‘dish.’ The children raise their hands when they know what the mystery object is. The teacher continues to pull mystery objects out and give rhyming clues. As the children become more experienced, they may be able to give the clues to their peers. - hat (cat) - bear (hair) - mug (rug) - soap (rope) - key (bee) - candle (handle) - pen (hen) - frog (dog)
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.
- Ask 2 students to crouch on the floor next to each other. Using a "mystery word" that no one else knows (e.g., "fireman"), whisper the first syllable to the first student ("fire"), and the second syllable to the second student ("man"). Then have the students "pop" up, one at a time, saying their syllable. The group, or an individual student, then guesses the mystery word
- Using short, 3 to 4 letter words, ask the child to say them without the initial sound. For example: star without S, farm without f, cat without c. Have the child identify the remaining word.
- Tell the children, “We are going to count words.” Using blocks or other objects with many pieces, have the children build a tower according to how many words are in the phrase.