Learning about the beginning sounds of words is one of the first steps of transferring the sounds of the letters into words. Using an activity or worksheet for beginning sounds is one way to teach and practice beginning sounds!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read my disclosure below.
In this post, you’ll learn about what beginning sounds are, why they are important, and some ways to teach them.
Why use beginning sounds?
Beginning sounds help children as they begin to read and spell words. The first step into becoming a reader and speller is phonemic awareness. This is a child’s ability to hear the sounds within the spoken words.
Children need to hear the sound before they can identify the letter that is associated with the sound. Most children will be able to hear the beginning sound (first sound) of a word by having it isolated and then hearing it on their own. Other children may need more support.
I like to use math cubes like the ones linked here to help make it more visual. I will say the word while running my hand along the cubes. Then I’ll ask them to do it and touch the cubes exactly after I have modeled it for them. Making the first cube a different color than the rest of the cubes helps them make it more visual to see that we are only looking for the first sound within the word.
If you need help with phonemic awareness check out my post below:
As children develop a strong sense of phonemic awareness they’ll start to learn phonics.
What is phonics?
Phonic is associating letters (graphemes) to sounds (phonemes). This is where children will be to match the sounds they hear with the symbols for letters.
Children that start to do this will say things like “bat” starts with “b”. An easy way to remember is that when that sound-symbol relationship comes together then they are practicing phonics.
One of the first things children will begin to do in phonics is identifying the first sound of a word. Then, associate that sound with a letter name.
As an elementary education intervention specialist and teacher beginning sounds are one of the first ways to teach children reading and spelling.
How to Teach Beginning Sounds in Kindergarten and Preschool?
There are many ways to teach beginning sounds in words. A very common one is using a letter-keyword-sound relationship.
You may see this if your child brings home a visual letter chart where each letter is given a picture to go along with it. I am trained in the Wilson Fundations program. Within this program, there is a wonderful letter-keyword-sound chart linked here.
The thing to be careful with is that each letter needs a word that showcases the most frequently used sounds. In preschool and kindergarten, the focus is on short vowel sounds. This means that the keyword for the vowels will be a word that starts with a short vowel.
Some words that start with the short vowels are:
- egg (be careful as sometimes this can sound like long A)
Although kindergarten students are exposed to long vowel sound words it’s custom to start by teaching the short vowel sounds.
Some words that are challenging to hear the beginning sound with are words like:
- acorn (a says the long sound)
- Ant (“an” together makes it challenging to hear short a)
- Words that start with a blend (gr, tr, sm, etc.)
- Unicorn (“u” says it’s a long U sound)
Early educators and parents that are looking to teach their young children at home need to be conscious of these scenarios. That’s why it’s important to use a trusted site and to use words that showcase the specific sound you are looking to have your child identify.
As children begin to identify the beginning sound within a word and correspond it to a letter their letter-sound relationships will become stronger. It will also help support them as they move on to identifying ending sounds within words.
Beginning Sound Activities
I love using differentiated beginning sound puzzles for children that are just learning to find the first letter within a word.
These puzzles come in 2 different sets. The first set has multiple different puzzle piece configurations. This helps children by giving them fewer choices than the answer could be.
The second option gives all the same puzzle piece options. This makes finding the first sound and letter of a word more challenging.
Beginning Sound Games
Using these beginning sound flashcards come in color and black-and-white. They allow for a lot of games to be played including:
- Go Fish!: The classic game of Go Fish! Can be played with 2 or more players passing out all of the cards. The children will go around saying, “(insert person’s name) do you have the letter Bb?” Then if they do they’ll give it to them and make a match with the ball card in their hand. The goal of the game is to get the most matches.
- Memory Match: Place down as many letter cards and their corresponding letter-sound cards down. Then you’ll flip over 2 cards looking for a match of a letter and a picture with the same beginning sound. You’ll turn them back over if they don’t match and keep the match (and go again) if they do match. The goal is to get the most matches.
- Roll, Say, Keep: Roll, say, keep is an easy game to play with these cards. You need a game board with 6 spaces. Then you’ll need a dice. In each of the 6 spaces, put down flashcards. Next, roll the dice. If the dice is a number 1, they’ll have to identify the beginning sound of the picture (or the sound of the letter) on the card space number 1. If the player gets it right they can keep it. Otherwise, it’s the next person’s team.
Worksheets for Beginning Sounds
Using worksheets is a popular way for children to learn beginning sounds. This is because they can provide the child practice with fine motor skills (writing, coloring, and/or cutting) and practicing their letters at the same time.
There are many different types of worksheets for beginning sounds. We will look at several of them below.
Beginning Sounds Coloring Worksheets
These coloring worksheets give students a chance to color pictures that have the same beginning sounds. This also gives them the opportunity to see that some words do have the same beginning sound.
Beginning Sound Picture Sorts
Beginning Sound picture sorts that have children only sorting pictures without a letter correlated with them is a phonemic awareness skill.
However when children put these sounds with a correlating letter then it’s a phonics skill.
Either way, these beginning sound picture sorts are great for helping children hear beginning sounds in words.
Beginning Sounds Cut and Paste
Cut and paste worksheets are popular with many early educators. Children have to use their fine motor skills to be able to complete these worksheets.
I have provided a few examples below of what these worksheets could look like.