Cardstock or similar
Glue with a little water
Texture material: sand, salt, cornmeal, glitter, etc
Option: You can color salt with food coloring; pour salt into a ziploc, add a few drops of coloring, shake or mash to distribute color thoroughly. Use red or pink for consonants, blue for vowels.
- Cut the cardstock. If drawing your own letters with reference to the chart, cut standard 8.5×11 sheets into quarters. Draw the letters with pencil or marker, thick enough for a child’s fingertip to trace. Or, If using the printable flashcards as templates, you’ll cut the pages in half.
- Paint one letter with glue, watered down just enough to make it paintable.
- Sprinkle the letter with your choice of textured material and shake off the excess. Doing this in a tray or pan with sides will help contain the mess.
- Set aside to dry.
- Repeat steps 2-4 for all letters.
- If you have a spray or brush-on sealer, you might apply it to make the letters last longer.
Lesson 1: Sounds and letter (or number) shapes
- Sit to the right of your child if you’re right-handed.
- Choose 2-4 letters.
- Demonstrate slowly tracing one letter with your first two fingers, tucking in your other fingers and thumb. Trace, then say the sound*; do this three times. Invite your child to trace and say the sound three times. Set that letter out of the way but still visible. Repeat with the other letters.
- Ask your child recognition questions like “Which one is ‘b’?” or “Please trace ‘f’” or “Hide ‘x’ under the table.” Or go to another part of the room with your child and send them to fetch ‘x’, then ‘f’, etc.
- If they want to do more, ask recall questions like “What is this?” or play Knock-Knock (turn letters over, child knocks on one, “who’s there,” child turns it face up and says the sound) or What’s Missing? (child closes eyes, take away one letter, they look and say which sound is missing).
- You can repeat this lesson at other times; review the letters from last time and then work with a new set. You might keep a chart with the alphabet on it to keep track; underline each letter you work with, and circle each letter when your child has mastered its sound.
*Sounds: Vowels make many sounds, but focus on one for each. For consonants, sound of a consonant, try not to include any vowel sound: /b/ not /buh/, /f/ not /eff/, /r/ not /ar/ or /ruh/.
a as in apple n as in nap
b as in banana o as in octopus
c as in cat p as in person
d as in dog q as in quilt
e as in elephant r as in rat
f as in fish s as in soup
g as in garden t as in table
h as in hair u as in umbrella
i as in itch v as in vase
j as in jump w as in wagon
k as in kangaroo x as in box
l as in lamb y as in yellow
m as in mud z as in zipper
Lesson 2: Matching initial sounds and objects
- Select 2-4 letters.
- Collect some things that start with those sounds. Be careful with vowels — no ape for a, because we’re using the a as in apple sound. Likewise c and g — no giraffe or cello, because we’re using the g as in garden and c as in cat sounds.
- Trace one letter three times, saying its sound each time, then set that letter at the top left of the work space. Repeat with the other letters.
- Select an object, say its name, and place it under the corresponding initial sound. Trace the letter once and say its sound. Repeat with the other objects.
- Your child might like to find other things in the house that start with these sounds.
Lesson 3: Words
- Select 5 letters that can be combined to make several words, such as a, b, c, m, t
- Trace, for example, c, saying its sound, three times. Set at the top left of the work space.
- Trace a in the same way, and place next to c.
- Trace t in the same way, and place next to a.
- Touch and say each sound in order, slowly, then repeat a little faster, and again, until you have blended the sounds to say the word “cat.”
- Remove c, trace and say b, and repeat the exercise with “bat.”
- Repeat with m as the initial sound, for “mat.”
Example groups of 5 letters
a, s, t, d, p sat, sad, sap, pat, tap, pad
e, m, l, t, n let, men, net, ten, met
i, s, t, p, n pin, tin, pit, sit, tip, sip
o, p, m, t, h hop, hot, mop, top, pot
u, m, g, n, t mug, gum, gut, tug, gun, nut