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From Letter Sounds to Reading Words

Learning to read is a process where students need to apply their knowledge of letter sounds and apply that to the actual reading of words. Students need frequent practice and a specific focus as they are applying their letter sound knowledge to real words. Read on for some ideas to use ASAP with your readers!

Starting with Sounds

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Readers need to know the sounds of each letter in order to read words. Ensuring readers know every sound, is a good place to start. Once you feel confident that readers know nearly all/all the sounds, you want them to apply that knowledge to reading simple words. 

CVC words are a great place to start because they aren’t overwhelming to readers. Here are a few things you can do to help readers practice saying the sounds in CVC words.

  1. Put a CVC word in front of the reader.
  2. Have the reader touch each letter, saying the sound as she touches the letter.
  3. Next, the reader can identify the vowels vs consonants. This can be done with small objects, such as pom poms and then a different shape, like the star sticker.
  4. As the reader states each sound again, she can place an object under each letter. 
  5. The different shape/object should be placed under the vowel, just because vowels often are more difficult for readers, than consonant sounds.
  6. Next up, readers can say the sounds in the CVC word one more time while touching each object, under the word.
  7. When the reader is confident in saying the sounds, she can then put those sounds together to read the word.
  8. Last step, mix up the letters, but leave the objects in the same place. The reader can then put those letters back in order and say the sounds/read the word again!
Watch the video below to see this in action.

Read the Word!

letters sounds to reading words

Some readers will do really well with the above steps. Others will struggle with the last part of actually putting those sounds together to read the words. For those readers, this visual reminder is very helpful.

It helps them see that they can’t just move on after saying the sounds. They need to slow down, put the sounds together, and then read the word!

When the reader is reminded to pause and actually read the word, they begin to do this on their own. We know the most important step of all this is actually reading the word, so we want kiddos doing this on their own!

This visual reminder is perfect to keep at your small group table. You can review the steps before word work activities and before students actually read a text.

If this would be helpful for your readers too, you can grab this freebie in my free resource library.

Sign up here and grab your copy!

Check out the video below to see how to use it!

More Letters and Word Work Activities

If you’re finding that students aren’t quite ready for putting sounds into words, you may need to focus more on letter sound recognition.

Read this blog post for tips on teaching letter sounds.

You may also want to focus heavily on word families. Check out this blog post here which explains how you can build early literacy skills with word families.


Then, when your readers are ready, you may want to try some other short vowel activities. 

Read this blog post for 5 ideas for practicing short vowels. 

You can also check out my short vowels phonics passages here. These work great when helping early readers practice reading in context!

Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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