Teaching phonetics at kindergarten

phonetics at kindergarten ABCD

It can be helpful to teach phonetics at kindergarten

Hello there, thanks for visiting this blog on teaching phonetics at kindergarten.

If you are being asked to teach preschool kids reading and writing, it’s helpful to start with sounds. Teaching phonemic script to preschoolers would be a bit of an overkill. However, phonics, or associating sounds with words, or parts of words, is helpful, especially for pupils who don’t know our alphabet.

How to teach phonics

Start by having children clap syllables of their names in their native language. Then, children say their name and clap each syllable as they say it. This activity introduces, through experience, the concept of syllables.

When teaching phonetics at kindergarten, introduce one sound at a time.

Teach a sound, such as F for fish.

Introduce the sound ffffff and combine it with fish, finger, four, and five. Next, play vocabulary games from my preschool games book with those four words, so kids learn the vocabulary (understanding it through listening games, saying it through speaking games). Now have kids say f-f-f-f-f-f-f-fish and mime being a fish, f-f-f-f-f-five and hold up five fingers, and so on.

The teacher says ‘fish’ broken down into three sounds – f – i – sha.  Have the kids say ‘fish.’ Then swap. If kids can break words down into sounds, it’ll help them learn to read, eventually!

Reinforce the sound with chanting

Chant a rhythm like ‘fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea, fish in the sea, great white wha-le, great white wha-le.

Children use their bodies to make shapes

making letter F with body

Have kids make an ‘f’ with their body. One person can do this using both arms or check the picture for an F made by two people.

Next, show them how to write the F sound. Have kids trace the letter F. You can find some fonts here:

Download to your computer and make worksheets with the letters using this font so kids can easily trace over them.

Examples of trace over fonts

Introduce new sounds

Continue with one new sound per lesson

Then in the next lesson teach a new letter, in the same way. This way, you will gradually teach how to write most letters of the alphabet through sounds. I would do a little of this in every lesson, then use stories, and songs, and role-play for the rest of the class.

Be sure to go back and revise all the sounds in every lesson, or the children will forget.

Use art and crafts

Draw and decorate letters of the alphabet as you learn them and put them up around the classroom. However, remember that you are teaching the sounds, not the letters.  Then you can play games with kids running to the sound you say or taking down the letters to make words with them. For example, type ‘F for fish colouring’ and hey presto, you’ll find free ones.

Resources for teaching phonetics at kindergarten

You might want to get a book to guide you in more detail. This one looks relevant, but I don’t actually have it!

All the best

Shelley Ann Vernon

Teaching English Games

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