TRT Podcast #25: How to use a sound wall to teach new phonemes and graphemes
So you have a sound wall. Now what? In today’s episode you’ll learn how to use it to teach new phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letter or letters that represent sounds).
Listen to the episode here
Full episode transcript
Today, I'm going to show you how to use the sound wall to teach new phonemes and graphemes. Remember, the phoneme is the sound, and the grapheme is the letter or letters that represent the sound.
Now, I want to say right up front that this procedure can be used in multiple grade levels, even in preschool. I've had people ask me, "Can you use a sound wall in preschool?" Absolutely! Keep that in mind as you listen to today's episode.
Let's imagine that I'm teaching my class about the sound /ch/. "Today, we're going to learn the sound /ch/. Watch me get ready to make the sound /ch/. I bring my top and bottom teeth close together and shape my lips in a circle, /ch/. Get your mouth ready to say /ch/.
"Now I'm going to push some air through /ch/, /ch/, /ch/. Try it with me. If I put my fingers on my throat and say the sound /ch/, I don't feel anything. That's because /ch/ is a quiet sound," or you could say that it's an unvoiced sound.
"Make the sound /ch/. What's happening with your lips? What's happening with your voice box? Is the airflow stopping or continuing?" For the sound /ch/, you would say that it's stopping because it's not continuing until you stop it, right, like in the sound of S, /s/, or any vowel sound. Those would be continuant sounds, but the sound /ch/ is stopping.
"All right, let's listen for the /ch/ sound in these words. Is it at the beginning, middle, or end? Chin, such, rich, matches."
So that would be an example of how you teach the sound, the phoneme.
Now, let's move on to teaching the grapheme.
In preschool, depending on your students, you probably wouldn't teach the spelling, you would just teach the sound. But in kindergarten, for sure, and above you would definitely teach the spelling of C-H.
"One way to spell the sound /ch/ is with C-H, as in the word chop. This card says chop, and I'm going to put it underneath the phoneme /ch/, so we remember that C-H spells /ch/."
Then I could give everybody an individual dry erase board and a marker and some chips, and I could say, "Let's spell a word with /ch/. Let's spell chin. Push a chip forward for each sound. /ch/-/ĭ/-/n/. How many sounds? All right, draw three lines on your board. What's the first sound? /ch/. Okay, write C-H in the first blank. What's the second sound you hear? /ĭ/. All right, what letter represents, /ĭ/? That's right, I," and so on, you would do that to spell the whole word. You could do that with multiple words.
You could also do some word building. Word building works really well with letter tiles. I might say, "Take out your tiles, spell chin," and you want to make sure that C-H has its own tile. If we'd spell chin, it would be the C-H tile, the I, and then the N.
Then I could say, "Change one letter to make chip. Change one letter to make chop. Change one letter to make chap, and change one letter to make chat."
There you go, that's just one way of using your sound wall. You can see that I walked you through how to teach the phoneme and then how to teach the grapheme, so you could very easily incorporate the sound wall into your phonics lessons.
In the show notes today, you'll get a free personal sound wall for your students, so you can find that at themeasuredmom.com/episode 25. See you next time!
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