Sounding Out Words

Understanding how to segment words into their smaller parts (called phonemes) is an important pre-reading skill. For example, as part of the Ascend Curriculum, we have been practicing breaking up words like ‘cat’ into the /c/ and /at/ phonemes and then blending them back together. We have also worked on making new words by replacing the beginning phoneme with a new letter, as in /b/ /at/. You can do this at home with these fun games.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Explore letter shapes and sounds as a regular part of play. When you see a letter, practice making that letter’s sound. For example, after reading a Pete the Cat book, say “Pete is a cat. What letter does cat start with? That’s right, cat starts with the letter C. Do you see the C? It’s has one curve and it makes the /k/ sound like at the beginning of the word cat.” or “This is an apple. Apple starts with the /a/ sound from the letter A. An A looks like this and makes the /a/ sound like the word apple.”
  • Three-year-olds—Practice sounding out word segments using the names of family members. Write the names on a piece of paper with spaces between each part of the names. Point to each part as you say that phoneme aloud. For example, write the name Ben as ‘B-en’ and sound it out as /b/ /en/.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Play a guessing game with your child. Give your child’s clues to a word and encourage her to blend the phonemes to name the mystery word. Say, “I’m thinking of a word that starts with /f/ and ends with /ish/” and see if she can sound out the word ‘fish.’

Skills Supported: phonemic awareness, segmenting and blending phonemes, name recognition, print awareness