• Katelyn Robey

Learning Letter Sounds with Phonics Cards for Early Learners

Updated: Jun 9

My daughter has just begun to really take an interest in letters and words throughout her world and in the books we read. Because of my knowledge around best practices in learning letter sounds, the activities we do are all multisensory-based and FUN!

I couldn’t find a simple visual for the letters we’ve practiced. So, I created Phonics Cards for Early Learning of letters and sounds! Tons of thought and consideration went into each feature of these cards to make them as effective as possible for students and teachers (and parents)!

Phonics Card Features to Aide in Learning Letter Sounds

  1. Picture and Letter Integration. It’s pretty standard practice to show a visual cue to help students connect the letter and it’s sound to a word they are already familiar with. These cards take that visual cue so important to multisensory learning one step further. The picture cues become part of the letter. That way, the letter and its visual cue are not separate, and students remember them as one image, essentially. Then, as students see letters outside of this Phonics Card deck, they will then imagine the picture within the letter, triggering their brains to remember the picture cue and letter sound. A much longer explanation than I had hoped, but I think you get what I was hoping to accomplish! This was the main inspiration and focus for these Phonics Cards.

  2. Handwriting Starting Points. Correct letter formation is so important, and the best way to teach letter formation is during practice with letter sounds. There are so many multisensory (tactile,/kinesthetic and auditory) associations that can be made with letters and sounds in tandem with handwriting. It’s best to make sure both are done correctly right from the get-go! Each card has a start (or two for some letters) to indicate where a letter should start to be formed.

  3. Outlined Font. This goes along with the handwriting starting points. Each letter, along with the picture cue, has an outlined font to allow students to “trace” the letter and stay inside the lines. There are also plenty of other multisensory activities that can easily be done with outlined letter font. Those are listed below, so keep reading!

  4. Highlighted Vowels. From the beginning, students should learn that vowels and their sounds are different from consonants. While they don’t necessarily need to know those terms, they should be aware of the two different sets of letters. Noticing the difference from the beginning of learning letters and sounds will help tremendously when students begin to put those letter sounds together to read and write words. The vowel cards use an orange font, as opposed to the black font of the consonants. This keeps colored ink use down while still showing the difference.

  5. Unmarked letters. All of the features listed above happen on ONE side of each Phonics Card. On the back of the cards, there is an unmarked lowercase letter. That way, when students are ready to transition away from picture cues, just flip the card over to the back side. I was thinking ahead with this part, since I plan to use these cards with my daughter as long as possible!

  6. Unmarked, highlighted vowels. Just like with the picture cue side of the cards, the vowels on the unmarked side are still highlighted. The unmarked vowels are created with a “glow” effect to help them stand out among the consonants. The letters themselves are black, but the glow of the vowels is the orange color. If printing only in black and white, the vowels will still stand out with a gray-colored glow. A win-win for vowel isolation!

Multisensory Ideas for Learning Letter Sounds with Phonics Cards for Early Learning

Ideas for learning letter sounds with multisensory strategies were mentioned above, but here’s a list of activities that use Phonics Cards for multisensory learning. Use these activities for whole group lessons, independent learning centers, small group practice, intervention, or at home!

  1. Letter Jumping. Lay out the cards on the floor (carpet works best to avoid sliding), and the student jumps from one to the next, making the letter’s sound when s/he lands on a card.

  2. Playdough Letters. Use laminated cards, or put them under a clear glass or plastic sheet (I put some in dollar store picture frames). The student rolls out playdough “snakes” and forms the letters we’re practicing. As they create the letter, prompt them to name it and make its sound. Also encourage the student to start placing the dough starting at the handwriting starters to begin working on letter formation.

  3. Salt Writing. Place the Phonics Card in the bottom of a plate or tray. Pour some salt (or sand or sugar, although sugar can get sticky if there’s ANY moisture) on top. The student uses their finger (or a paintbrush) to trace the letter through the salt. Again, encourage use of the handwriting starters and also prompt the student to name the letter and sound as they write.

  4. Erasable Marker. Kids love markers. Especially the magical, erasable kind (dry-erase markers). Use laminated cards, or put a sheet of smooth, clear plastic or glass over the cards (mine are in cheap picture frames for this, too). The student should trace the letters with the dry erase marker. Then, erase the lines. While both writing and erasing, encourage correct letter formation AND naming the letter and sound.

  5. Slap A Letter. Lay a few cards out in front of the student and ask, “which letter says ___?” and they slap the letter card. Then, ask the student to repeat the letter’s name and sound. Use the picture cue prompt to give some extra support when the student needs it. Say, “which letter says ___ like {picture cue name}?” This can also be a jumping or stepping activity by putting the cards on the floor and asking students to jump or step to a letter sound.

  6. Simple Letter-Sound Repetition. No matter what you’re doing with these cards, always begin with a review of the letters and sounds students know. Meaning, show a Phonics Card, and review it’s name, sound, and the visual picture cue. For example, say “d /d/ /d/ dog” when you show the letter d card. This is also the phrasing I encourage throughout all of the other activities mentioned above. Repetition is key to learning letters and sounds!

And there you have it, Phonics Cards for Early Learning. These cards, although made with the early learner in mind, would be so helpful for any student in need of letter sound support!

For students that are ready for more of a challenge, this set of phonics cards pairs so nicely with the Letters, Sounds, and Sentences Workbook in my store. So many teachers have used and loved this resource as well! Set 1 of my Phonics Cards are perfect for students ready to blend letter sounds into words. The set comes with picture cues that can be added to each card if needed, but otherwise this set of cards is simply plain letters with notes for the teacher on the back!

  1. Learning Letter Sounds with Phonics Cards for Early Learners

  2. Two Tech Tips for Virtual Lessons using Google Classroom

  3. 5 Tips for Distance Learning Success

  4. At Home Learning – Ideas for Parents

  5. Daily Phonics Drill, part 4: Short Vowel Practice

#phonics #preschoollettersounds #earlyliteracy #phonologicalawareness #alphabet #phonemicawareness #lettersounds #multisensorylearning

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