Creative Activities to Teach Letter Sounds of the Alphabet

Looking for fun and interactive activities to make learning letter sounds engaging and effective.

From Alphabet Sound Sorting and Letter Sound Fishing to a dynamic Letter Sound Obstacle Course, these activities blend physical play with phonics practice.

Young children gathered in a tight circle on the floor to view letters and picture cards. There are letter cards and picture cards on the floor in the middle of the children. Some are also being held up by the teacher.

Teaching children the sounds of the alphabet is a foundational aspect of early literacy education. It’s important that as children learn to recognize a letter and call it by its name, that they also understand letters have corresponding sound(s). Single letter-sound correspondence refers to the ability to recognize and associate each letter of the alphabet with its unique sound(s). It’s a process that ignites curiosity, enhances linguistic understanding, and paves the way for reading and writing fluency.

In this post, you’ll explore effective activities for teaching letter sounds, discover that the sequence of teaching letter sounds is different from that of teaching letter formation, and discover why beginning with the letters in a child’s name is the perfect place to start.

Benefits of Letter-Sound Correspondence Activities

Enhanced Reading Fluency
Proficiency in letter-sound correspondence accelerates reading fluency, enabling learners to decode words effortlessly.
Improved Spelling Skills
Understanding letter-sound relationships aids in spelling, as learners can apply phonetic knowledge to sound out and spell unfamiliar words.
Building Confidence
Successful engagement with letter-sound correspondence activities boosts learners’ confidence, fostering a positive attitude towards reading and writing.
Cognitive Development
Phonics activities stimulate cognitive development by requiring learners to analyze and manipulate sounds within words.

Why the Sequence Matters

First, it’s essential to understand that the sequence in which we introduce letter sounds to children differs from the order of teaching letter formation. This distinction arises from the nature of learning to read versus learning to write.

Graphics of a teacher at a table with two young children.  The children are learning letter sounds and how to blend them together to make words.

Sequence to Introduce Letter Sounds

Letter sounds are introduced in a way that prioritizes phonetic simplicity and frequency in words.

It is helpful to start with sounds like /m/, /a/, /s/, /t/ /i/ /p/ and /n/ because these are frequently used letters children will encounter regularly.

These high-frequency letters can be combined to form a wide array of simple words, allowing children to begin blending sounds into words quickly.

Children can practice blending and segmenting the sounds in simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words such as sit, map, pan, tap, mat, and pin.

Graphics of a top down view of four children practicing writting letters and words in notebooks at a classroom table.

Sequence to Introduce Letter Formation

Letter formation order is designed based on the complexity of the motor skills required to write the letters, starting with uppercase straight-line letters like L and T, moving to curved letters like C and O, and then to letters with diagonal lines, which are the most challenging to form.

When teaching children how to write letters, lowercase letters are taught after uppercase letters because they are more complex, with varying starting points and letters that hang below the writing line. Lowercase letters are also more easily confused, leading to common letter reversals.

It can be helpful to practice letter discrimination skills and engage in letter recognition activities before starting to learn to write lowercase letters.

Unveiling the Magic of the Letters in Your Child’s Name

Beginning with the letters in a child’s name has a magical effect on their motivation and interest. Since their name holds personal significance, children are more engaged and eager to learn these letters and sounds.

For many children, their name is the very first word they come to recognize and proudly scribble across a page. By focusing on these special letters first, we tap into a well of enthusiasm and anchor their learning in an inherently meaningful context.

Black and white photo of different names written out by children alongside their painted handprints.

Get Started With These Excellent Letter-Sound Correspondence Activities

Introducing young children to the sounds of each letter of the alphabet can be a fun and exciting journey. Below are several engaging ideas to help make learning the alphabet sounds enjoyable.

Letter Sound Memory

In this activity, your little one will try to match pictures with their correct initial letter sounds.

For children with more advanced letter correspondence skills, you could switch the game to match pictures with their ending sounds.

For end sounds, it’s best to start with words that are three-letter consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, such as pig, hat, cup, and jar.

Alphabet Sound Sorting

This activity will have little ones sorting pictures into containers labeled with the letters that you’ve selected to work on.

Simply sort the pictures based on the initial letter sounds.

Letter-Sound Snack Attack!

Turn snack time into a simple and yummy activity that boosts your little one’s awareness of letter sounds, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills as they match snacks to letters.

How to Play:

  • To start, select 2-4 letters to focus on during this snack time. Opt for letters that represent sounds your child is currently learning or needs practice with.

  • Pick out snacks that begin with the sounds of the selected letters. Aim for a variety of snacks to keep the activity interesting and appealing. For example, if you choose the letters “A,” “S,” and “T,” you might have apples, strawberries, and tomatoes.

  • Lay out the chosen letters on the table or a tray. You can use letter cards, magnets, or even write the letters on pieces of paper. 

  • Place the snacks on the table or tray, but not yet sorted by their starting letter. Allow your child to see all the options available.
  • Explain to your little one that each snack belongs to a letter based on the first sound in the snack’s name. Encourage your child to sort the snacks, placing each one above or next to the correct letter.
  • Now, tell your little learner which snack to eat first, second, and third by mentioning the letter name, not the snack. For example, say, “Eat the snack that starts with the letter ‘S’ first.”
  • If they’re unsure which snack to eat, help them out by offering other words that start with the same letter sound. For “S,” you might say, “S” is for s-s-sun, s-s-star, and “S” is also for…”
  • As your child eats the snack, talk about the letter sound and other words that start with the same sound. This reinforces their understanding and helps build vocabulary.

Integrating learning with everyday activities like snack time, is the perfect way to help our little ones discover and practice new skills.

Ox & Owl Literacy

Letter Sound Fishing

Create a fishing game where each fish has a letter on it. Children use a fishing rod with a magnet to ‘catch’ the fish. Once they catch a fish, they must say the letter sound. This game not only teaches letter sounds but also improves fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Letter-Sound Spying

Grab a picture book and play a game of I Spy using initial letter sounds for objects in the pictures within the book. Wordless picture books are a great choice for this activity.

You might say, “I spy with my little eye, something that starts with a /n/ sound.  Can you find it? It’s not a knight, nose, or necklace… hmmm, what could it be?”

Zoom-Zoom Letter Sound Car Trips

Your child will have fun going on mini indoor roadtrips, and getting driving directions in the form of letter-sounds to get them to a final destination.

Letter-Sound Sensory Bin

Fill bins with different sensory materials (like rice, beans, kinetic sand, or shredded paper) and hide small items and letters in them. Children have to find the items and say the letter sound. Each bin can be themed around a specific letter or sound group.

For example, you could pick the letter ‘b’ and create a bin with the letter ‘B’, a small toy or picture of a bear, bird, butterfly, bus, boy, and a block.

Alphabet Letter-Sound Songs & Poems

Alphabet letter-sound songs and poems are a great way to help your child become aware of the sounds letters make. 

Alliteration books and rhymes are also great for working on specific initial word sounds.

Click over to our post about alliteration which provides names of alliteration books and fun alliteration activities for young learners.

Mystery Sound Bag

Choose a letter sound to work on and fill a bag with a few items starting with this letter sound.

Tell your little learner(s) that inside the bag are things starting with the letter sound and have them try to take a guess or two as to what could be inside.

Let your little learner(s) reach inside to take out an object and reinforce how the object starts with the selected letter sound. Do this with all of the objects one by one.

Vocabulary Quest

Word: Snuggle

Meaning: to get cozy with someone or something you love, like giving a big, warm hug or cuddling up with a soft blanket or stuffed animal.

All the penguins waddled into a group huddle, declaring it a “snuggle shuffle” to stay warm on the ice.

Curious Queries Corner?

Stir up your learner’s imagination and create some conversation and connection by asking an unusual question.

Would you rather have spaghetti hair you can eat anytime or rainbow fingers that change colors when you wiggle them?

Alliteration Tactile Letters

Here is a sensory activity that you can create and also introduce letter sounds at the same time!

Simply create a bumpy letter ‘Bb’, a silky or soft letter ‘Ss’, a prickly letter ‘Pp’, a fuzzy letter ‘Ff’, a hairy letter ‘Hh’, a leathery or lacy letter ‘Ll’, and a rough letter ‘Rr”

Create this activity in a flip-open book format to create even more engagement.

Letter-Sound Obsticle Course

This one’s an ear-resistible activity!

Create a short obstacle course where children have to complete activities that incorporate practicing their letter sounds!

Letter Sound Jump

Place letter mats or cards on the floor around the room. Play some music and have the children dance around. When the music stops, call out a letter sound. The children need to find the letter that makes that sound and jump on it.

This activity encourages quick thinking and helps reinforce the connection between sounds and their corresponding letters using movement.

Teaching children the sounds of the alphabet is a multifaceted process that requires thoughtful approaches and engaging activities. By focusing on the integration of letter sounds with letter recognition skills and introducing letters by carefully selecting a sequence, parents and educators can provide children with a strong letter knowledge foundation.

Our Order for Introducing Letters

Ox & Owl Literacy Alphabet Parade

Letter Sound Correspondence Letter Formation Practice
Ss, Ii, Tt,

Hh, Aa, Nn,

Ff, Dd, Mm,

Oo, Pp, Ee,

Cc, Ll, Uu,

Bb, Rr, Gg,

Jj, Kk, Qq, Vv,

Xx, Zz, Ww, Yy

Uppercase Letters First

I, T, H,
F, D, O, P, E,
L, U, C, B, R, G,
J, S, Q, V,
Z, M, A, X,
W, N, K, Y

Lowercase Letters Second

l, t, i, p, u,
c, o, p, s, v, x, z, w,
h, n, m, r, b,
a, d, g, q, j
e, f, k, y

Teach Short Vowel Sounds First

Teach These Sounds FirstTeach These Sounds Later
/a/ as in hat/a/ as in rake
/e/ as in wet/e/ as in feet
/i/ as in swim/i/ as in kind
/o/ as in frog/o/ as in home
/u/ as in nut/u/ as in huge

Consonants with Multiple Sounds

Teach These Sounds FirstTeach These Sounds Later
/c/ as in cup/s/ as in city
/g/ as in give/j/ as in ginger
/s/ as in class/z/ as in nose
/y/ as in yawn/i/ as in my; /i/ as in gym;
/e/ as in fairy

Tiny Steps, Big Reads: Everyday Literacy Hacks

Discover the magic in the mundane, with literacy hacks that fit right into your life – because big reads start with the smallest steps.

Bath time Letter Sound Fun!

Bath time presents a perfect, often untapped opportunity to practice letter sounds in a fun and relaxed environment.

Simply follow these five easy steps:

  1. Fill up a water gun or spray bottle for your child to use for this activity.
  2. Place 3-5 foam letters up on the bathroom shower tiles.
  3. Tell your child to squirt down the letter that makes the sound…

    For example, if you say the sound /qu/, your child will want to quirt the letter “Q”.

    Can you and your little one come up with two words that start with the letter sound?

  4. Time to squirt down the next letter. On your mark, set, go!

Ox & Owl Literacy

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I’m happy you’re here!

Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate creator of Ox & Owl Literacy. I enjoy empowering families and educators with wonderful resources to inspire fun, imaginative, and joyful learning opportunities for young kiddos.  You’ll find lots of recommended books, reading resources, and creative learning activities on this site aiming to help children fall in love with language, books, reading, and the transformational power of stories.

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