Should Letter Sounds be Taught with Letter Names?

Should Letter Sounds be Taught with Letter Names?

When I was a kid people taught letter names before they taught letter sounds.  If you visit a Montessori school you will find that they do not even teach the names of the letters, they only teach the letter sounds.  So the question, "Should letter sounds be taught with letter names," is a valid question.

The answer is yes according to The National Reading Panel's report that was released in 2000.  According to the NRP,


It is essential to teach letters as well as phonemic awareness to beginners.  PA training is more effective when children are taught to use letters to manipulate phonemes.  This because knowledge of letters is essential for transfer to reading and spelling (2000).

Therefore, it is important to teach not only the letter names, but also the letter sounds.  Yesterday we took a look at a fun way to teach letter names with the names of our family members.  So if we were taking a look at the name grandpa, we could say, "The name of the letter is g, the sound of the letter is /g/.  Do you hear it?  /g/ /g/ /g/ grampa"

Not only can the names of family members and friends be used, but you can also teach the letter names and sounds by playing fun games.


Bingo - Choose a 3 x3 Bingo grid or a 4 x 4 Bingo grid.  Write some letters of the alphabet that your child knows and some letters of the alphabet that your child is working on in each of the boxes on the board.  Use the alphabet card deck to call the letters or the sounds and have the child put an x on each one that is called.  Whoever gets a straight row is the winner.

Memory - Use two decks of alphabet cards (just print out two of these).  Flip the cards over so that the white side is showing and the letters cannot be seen.  The child flips over a letter and says the sound that it makes.  If the child does not know the sound, then tell her the sound it makes.  Then, the child flips over another letter and looks to see if they match.  If the letters match, then the child gets another turn.  The person with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

Go fish - Use two decks of the alphabet cards and mix them up.  Deal 3 cards to each player.  The youngest player starts and asks if you have a certain letter or sound.  If you have the letter, then you need to give it to the child and the child goes again.  If you do not have the letter, then the child gets to pick a letter from the pile and it is your turn.  Whoever is out of cards first is the winner.

Learning the names of letters and sounds can be so much fun.  The more fun that you make this activity the less it will seem like learning or work for the child.  What are some of the creative ways that you teach letter names and sounds?



  1. Thanks for this post. Found it to be very interesting and like the suggestions for making learning fun!
    Laureen recently posted..Mastering the Feast-or-Famine Syndrome in Business – Part 2My Profile

  2. Arleen Bradley
    Twitter: arleenbradley

    I feel so out of the loop with today’s education. I hear friends and relatives talking about what their children in school and I don’t even know what they are talking about. What happened to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic?

  3. Incredibly interesting article! I have a 19-month old, and am always wondering how to approach reading… Thank you for the information about teaching both the letter name and the sound–I will keep it in mind!! And the game suggestions = WOO HOO!!! I LOVE go-fish and memory!!! I’ll definitely get started on those as soon as she’s developmentally “there”. Thank you! :)
    eyenie recently posted..Focusing on Your “Happy Things” = How You Kick AssMy Profile

  4. Bonnie Gean
    Twitter: BonnieGean


    What a fun way to teach your child the letters and sounds associated with them. I would definitely use these exercises, if I had children still living at home, because I LOVE to play Go Fish!

    When I was a child in school, I had a teacher who taught us multiplying with flashcards.

    The first person in the row would walk back to to desk behind him/her to challenge that person to get the answer right before they did. When you got the answer right, the loser sat back at their desk while you moved backwards 1 desk and challenged the next person in that row of desks.

    I had SUPER fun playing this game and now realize, you could play the same kind of game with Letters/Letter sounds flashcards. Awesome post, thanks for bringing back some childhood memories that I fondly miss.
    Bonnie Gean recently posted..Website Changes on the HorizonMy Profile

  5. I had some extra large alphabet cards from my classroom that I would put around the house a few at a time. I’d tell my grandson to “go find T” or “go find the letter that sounds olive mmmm.” When he got a little older, I’d give him the letters one at a time in ABC order to lay out on the floor. I’d have him close his eyes and then I’d take a letter. He had to figure out which one was missing. I’d start by leaving the space blank, so he. Knew where to look, and he just had to say the ABCs to figure it out. Later I pushed the letters together to make it harder.

    He got an easel for Christmas with one side magnetic. It came with lots of letters. Yesterday he was at my house and wanted to take home the big picture dictionary. I told him he could look at the words and then spell them on his easel with the letters.

    When we are sitting somewhere waiting (doctor, restaurant), I have him look for objects that begin with a certain sound and then tell me the letter, or look for letters on the menu or posters.
    Nancy Barth recently posted..Comment on Math: Ko’s Journey by NancyMy Profile

  6. These are great ideas! My son was a late reader and I tried many things. Some of these would have been very beneficial. Where were you then???!!! Now, I will file these away for my grandkids, whenever they come along. (not rushing things)

    Amy Kinnaird recently posted..This Job Has Its Ups and DownsMy Profile

  7. I was trained as a Laubach literacy instructor for adults and the letter, shape and sound were all taught at the same time as lower case: The letter b was something like a “boy’s big belly” with a picture of a boy. The first four readers had only short vowel words with a few sight words added in to make sentences, such as “the,” which was pronounced “thuh.”

    It worked because it allowed the adult learner to have a visual, auditory and even kinesthetic memory of each letter and a word to associate with it, since we would trace the letter shapes with our fingers. It taught both look-say like I learned in Dick, Jane and Sally, and phonetics, 5 consonants at a time.

  8. This post reminded me of all the fun ways my family and teachers got me to learn. It made me super smart (no brag, just fact) and I never thought of it as anything but a blast! It instills love of learning!
    Carol Steinberg recently posted..Day 3My Profile


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