Learning alphabet sounds

A makes an ‘a’ sound for apple right?

Yes it does but did you know that the letter A can actually make up to 3 sounds. Letters like B, D, F, H make a single sound but other letters like C, E and G make 2 sounds.

More often then not we tend to teach kids a single sound connected to each alphabet letter – I used to do this all the time early on in my teaching. But then I could see how confused kids would get when this very thing would happen.

They would see the word cat and sound out a ‘k’ for C ‘a’ for A and ‘t’ for T. It was all smiles and claps and we were making great progress. Then a different reader would come along and the sentence said ‘Dad had to get a ruler to check how many centimetres it was’ and we would scan through our knowledge of the alphabet and connect the k sound for C to centimetre and pronounce it as kentimetre and then there were all kinds of confusion and frustration.

There is only so much of ‘it sounds a bit funny so what should it sound like?’ or ‘is there a word that sounds similar?’ you can really get by with. It is just so much easier, simpler and logical to teach kids that there are some alphabet letters that make 2 or 3 sounds instead of a single sound.

There are 17 letters that make a single sound – so really the majority do. But then there are 5 that make 2 sounds and 4 that make 3 sounds. And teaching these other sounds to kids truly felt like those areas of confusion were breaking down and their literacy skills were improving at a greater rate.

The short sounds are the ones I tell the kids I teach to use most often – then when they use it and it doesn’t make sense I ask them to refer to their knowledge of the other sounds and decode the word that way.

I’ve created alphabet sound posters and flash cards that outline the sounds a letter can make. You can purchase this resource in my Alphabet pack.