10 Activities for Teaching and Practicing Letters and Sounds

So it’s late November and we have just a few first graders who have not yet mastered their letters and sounds.  For these little firsties, we needed to readjust their intervention plan and bump it up a knotch in terms of intensity.  It’s always difficult to find time in a jam-packed school day, but mastering letters and sounds is really important and must take priority right now.  One way to add intervention time is to teach volunteers and/or the child’s parent in how to teach and practice letters and sounds.   Having the right activities available and directions for correctly using the activities is really important.  I’ve collected 10 of my most favorite activities for teaching letters and sounds and gathered them in a teaching bag with the directions for each activity.  The alphabet bags can either be used at home or at school.

It all begins with assessment.  Before beginning with the alphabet bags, it is important that you know which sounds your student knows and does not know.   If you do not have an assessment that you already administer at school, feel free to download the Make, Take & Teach Letters and Sounds assessment.  I’ve included progress monitoring charts so that you can track your student’s progress.

Click the following link to download the FREE assessment with progress monitoring charts Letter Sound Assessment

The following pdf contains the directions for each activity as well as a time recording sheet to keep track of the practice sessions.  Be sure to write the upper- and lowercase letters that the student missed at the top of the form as these letters will be used in the teaching activities.

Click the following link to download the free directions for using this kit Learning Letters and Sounds

Each practice session will begin with the letter flashcards.  Specific directions for this review are listed on the pdf above.  To make the flashcards, you’ll simply need to cut along the dotted line.

Click the following link to download FREE letter flashcards Small Flashcards- Alphabet

Following the flashcard review, have your student choose one of the six teaching activities.  (1) I printed the unknown letters from the Dough Letters activity to use with the Play Doh, but you can also use the free Multi-Sensory cards for this activity if you choose.  (2) Bendaroos are wax covered sticks often found in the arts and crafts or toy section in large chain stores such as Walmart.  You can purchase those in any size.  I typically purchase a large box and place about 20 in a baggie for each student.  (3) Craft sand can be purchased at Walmart.  Simply put sand on a paper plate and have the student write the letters in the sand.  (4 and 5) Dry erase boards and small Magnadoodles can be purchased in a dollar store. (6) Plastic screens can be purchased in the arts and crafts needle work section of Walmart or a similar store.  Specific directions for the volunteer or parent are on the pdf.


Click the following link to download FREE multi-sensory letter cards Multi-Sensory Letters

If you’d like to use the Dough Letters for the Play-Doh, click HERE.  Helpful hint:  I used only the unknown letters and covered the page with contact paper so it would be easy to use multiple times.

After the direct teaching activity, have your student choose one of the 5 letter/sound games.  My all time favorite activity for practicing letters (and sight words too) is (7) Fiddle Sticks.  To make this activity write a letter with a black Sharpie marker at the end of a large craft stick (you’ll need about 50 sticks).  On one stick color the tip red or, in this case, I put a snowflake on the stick to match the cup.  Directions for playing this game are on the pdf above.

The (8) ABC Turtle game is a fun game for practicing letters and sounds.  This activity can be downloaded for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Click HERE to download the FREE ABC Turtle game.

To make the (9) Make A Word activity you will need 3 wooden blocks.  I use 1″x1″ blocks.  Using a black Sharpie marker, write the following letters on the first block:  g, r, d, m, j and p.  Again using the black marker, write the following letters on second block: f, c, b, h, t and s.  Using either a blue or red Sharpie marker, write the following letters on the third block:  a, e, i, o, u and a.  Again, directions for this activity are on the “Learning Letters and Sounds” pdf.

Make A Word Templateblogpic2

Click the following link to download this free template Make A Word Template

The (10) ABC Order and (11) Making Words activity from the Cookie Sheet Activities file complete the alphabet bag!  Okay, so my math is a bit off.  I guess there are 11 alphabet activities in the bag.  For these activities you’ll need magnetic letters and I often place the templates and the letters on a cookie sheet.  You can find magnetic letters at the dollar store, but I purchase mine through Banks School Supply as I like the size and shape of the letters (picky, I know).


Click HERE to download this file from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I’m hoping that this little alphabet bag will quickly help those first graders master their letters and sounds!  Hope you, too, find it helpful with your students.


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Fun Snowball Digraph Sorting Activity

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know by now I love my Walmart.  I mean I REALLY love Walmart!  The seasonal section is right at the entrance and it’s my very first stop in the store.  I especially love the seasonal section during Christmas.  There are so many items that jump off the shelf shouting “make me into an activity!”

The fun find this week are these cute little snowmen containers (the penguin containers are adorable, too).  I decided that they’d be great for a sorting activity.   Although I have two pictured here, you may want to purchase four as I have digraph snowball pictures for sh, ch, th and wh.  This activity is easily differentiated as you can choose how many digraphs to use for your students to sort.  So, just click the link below to download 19 FREE colorful digraph snowballs.  Happy sorting!

Click the following link to download your FREE digraph snowballs Digraph Snowballs

Be sure to check out other Make, Take & Teach products designed to teach consonant blends and digraphs

Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack

Cookie Sheet Activities Volume 5- Blends and Digraphs

Clip A Digraph

Bingo Chip Blends and Digraphs

Consonant Blends and Digraph Dominoes


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R Controlled Vowels

When a vowel is followed by an r, the r changes the sound that the vowel makes.  The vowel is called an r-controlled vowel.  Sometimes teachers refer to the “r” as the “bossy r” because the r “bosses” the vowel to make a new sound.  When the “a” is followed by r, it makes the sound you hear in “bar” or “car”.  When the “o” is followed by the r, it makes the sound you hear in the word “corn”.  The “ir”, “ur” and “er” make the same sound /er/ as in the words “bird”, “fur” and “her”.   It is important to teach students to recognize and practice words containing r-controlled vowels.

Here’s a little freebie for practicing r-controlled vowels.  I put all the r-controlled vowels on the stick, but you can easily differentiate the activity by writing only 2 or 3 vowels on the stick.

Here are the directions for making this activity:

1)  Print the pdf on cardstock and cut out each circle.

Click the following link to download your FREE r-controlled vowel pics R Controlled Vowel Sticks

2)  With a hot glue gun, glue the picture on the end of a large craft stick.


3)  Write the r-controlled vowels on the stick using a black Sharpie marker.  Remember you can differentiate by choosing how many r-controlled vowels are on the stick.


4)  Flip the stick over and place a blue dot behind the correct r-controlled vowel.  This serves as a self-checking feature for this activity.


5)  Optional:  I place a small foam star (purchased at Office Max in the education section) on the end of a clothespin.


For this activity, the students name the picture on the stick and then clips the clothespin on the r-controlled vowel they think is in the word.  To see if their choice is correct, they turn the stick over and if the clothespin is covering the dot, they are correct.

Here are a few other Make, Take & Teach r-controlled vowel activities.

Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.

Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.


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Thanksgiving Rhyming Activity

While shopping at one of my favorite craft stores last week–that would be Michael’s– I found these little felt turkeys.   They are really stickers that come 7 in a packet.  I thought they’d make such a cute rhyming memory game for either a preschool or kindergarten literacy center.


When you download this file, you’ll received 28 rhyming pictures so you’ll need 4 packets of felt turkeys.  If you don’t live near a Michael’s Craft Store, I’ve included 28 printed turkeys for you to use.

Click the following link to download the rhyming pictures Thanksgiving Memory Game

Hurry! Hurry! run and get those turkeys before they put up their Christmas supplies.


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Thanksgiving Activities

Kyle (fab artist) did a bang up job on this little turkey!  I love this guy!  I quick made him into a beginning sounds and word family activity.   Just for fun I made a math facts to 10 activity which you can download for free.

Click HERE to download Turkey Feathers Beginning Sounds from my TpT store

Click HERE to download the Turkey Feathers Word Families activity from my TpT store.

Click HERE to download this FREEBIE!

Here’s another fun little small group activity for practicing word families during the fall.  Students fill their word family pumpkin patches with the corresponding pumpkin pictures.

Click HERE to download the Pumpkin Patch activity from my TpT store.


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