Looking for a simple activity that will teach kids to sound out words? Try these free word slider cards!
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How do we teach kids to sound out words?
I’m not talking complicated phonics here. I’m talking about the very beginning of this skill. How do we help kids see that the sounds /c/ /a/ /t/ combine to make the word CAT? First of all, we need to make sure our children are ready to learn this skill. If you’re not sure, check out this post: 5 things kids need to know before sounding out.
You can introduce “sounding it out” in different ways.
1. One way is to take out some letter tiles – H, A, and T for example. Lay out the tiles in order with large spaces in between. Show your child how to say each sound separately. Gradually squeeze the letter tiles together as you say the sounds closer together.
2. Another option is to write the letters of a three letter word in three separate boxes. Push a counter (like a block or poker chip) up toward each letter as you say the sounds. Help your child to say the sounds faster until he can say them together.
3. Sing a fun song about sounding out words. I’m a BIG fan of Heidisongs — they’re by a kindergarten teacher and master educator. Check out the video below (it’s from this CD).
Even if our children are ready to learn “sounding out,” it might not come easily.
When I first introduce the concept of sounding out words to my kids – at about 3 1/2 years – they don’t get it.
It might sound like this… “/c/ a/ /t/… cop!” Or even “/c/ /a/ /t/… pig!”
So I lay off. A month or more later, I might try again. Eventually my kids say “/c/ /a/ /t/…at!” or “/c/ /a/ /p/ … cat!”
After many months of working at this in light doses (fewer than 30 minutes a week), one day it clicks. My older two were both four. Our third child will be four years old in a month. The light is just starting to turn on.
So I’ve created a resource to help it come together… printable word slider cards.
I saw this genius activity on the fabulous blog Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational, whose author learned about it from her son’s kindergarten teacher. With Relentlessly Fun’s permission, I’m sharing the idea on my blog as well.
The idea is very simple. You can use index cards or long strips of paper to write simple words to sound out. Since my Three loves to read and spell the word “pop,” I created a set of 30 short o word cards. Since I like to teach reading with word families, I printed 3-6 cards for each short o word family. (You can download my cards for free at the end of the post.) It helps to include a picture of the word at the end of the strip for self-checking.
Next, seal a business sized envelope.
Cut off the end of the envelope.
Insert a card into the envelope. Have your child say each sound as each letter or letter combination is revealed.
Have him repeat the sounds in order until he can sliiide them all together to make a word.
Simple! The first couple times we did this, my Three resisted. I pulled it out a month later, and suddenly he was sounding out at least half of the words on his first or second try. I loved seeing the smile on his face when he revealed the final picture and saw that he was correct!
More free word slider cards
Want to save yourself some time?
Grab all my word slider cards in one easy download. (And get 20 bonus cards!)
P.S. Want to know more about teaching kids to read?
I created a free email series just for you!
- What kids need to know before they learn to sound out words
- How to use word families to teach kids to read
- Do’s and don’ts for teaching kids to “sound it out”
- Our favorite games, printables, and books for early literacy
- What to try when kids just aren’t getting it
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