How to Teach Letter Sounds to Preschoolers

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How to Teach Letter Sounds to Preschoolers
Teach a phonics lesson that preschoolers remember and use. (alphabet block image by goce risteski from

Open up the world of reading to the children in your preschool class. Explain that letters have names and each letter makes sounds. Teach the phonetic sound of each letter. Start with consonant and short vowel sounds. Honour the diversity of the learning styles of your students by planning a system of phonics learning that lets them see, say and point to the letters. Take the plunge into phonics with a method that uses pictures and repetition as a powerful learning "one-two punch" that kids can recall whenever they need to sound out a word.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Alphabet list, each letter printed 3 times
  • 26 pictures of common things that begin with each letter of the alphabet

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  1. 1

    Seat the class in a semicircle on the floor in front of you with their legs crossed. Pass one alphabet list to each child. Ask the children to lay the list on the floor directly in front of them.

  2. 2

    Make sure the alphabet beginning-sounds pictures are in alphabetical order in a stack. Place the stack face down in your lap.

  3. 3

    Show the children the first picture. If it is an apple, say, "apple, apple." Instruct the children to point to the printed letters as you make the three short "a" letter sounds: "a--a--a." Put the picture of the object representing letter "a" facedown at the bottom of the stack of pictures.

  4. 4

    Pick up and show the children the picture representing letter "b." If you have chosen a picture of a bottle, say "bottle, bottle--b-b-b." Make sure the children say the picture words and the letter sounds with you and that they point to the letters on their papers as they make the letter sounds.

  5. 5

    Hold up the rest of the pictures, one at a time, naming the object twice, then repeating the letter sound three times. Practice with the pictures and alphabet papers daily.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose pictures of objects with two-syllable names--apple, bottle, etc.--so there is a relatively consistent cadence as you chant the words and letter sounds.
  • Print lower-case letters on the alphabet papers to benefit children who can recognise upper-case letters, but need lower-case practice.
  • Remind preschoolers to recall the alphabet papers and pictures as they sound out words.
  • Review the correct phonetic sound of each letter before teaching them to children. Say "ks" for the sound of the letter "X" instead of "ecks." Checkout recordings of phonics learning songs at the local library as a refresher course.

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