1. Overview

Blend the first sound (phoneme) together with the remainder of a spoken one-syllable word, using picture cards as visual clues.

/b/ • • /ug/ … what’s my word?

This game introduces the skill of paying attention to an individual sound within a word. It also uses letter cards to introduce the idea that lower-case letters are what certain sounds look like when we write them.

whats the word
/b/ • • /ug/ … what’s my word?

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2. Materials & Preparation

Print out the picture cards and sound cards, preferably on sturdy card-stock paper, and cut them apart. The word index and the list of starting sounds are for the adult’s reference only.

You will want to prop up the phoneme card for each round so that the child is looking straight at it. Lean it against a block so that it is angled appropriately.

This is our first activity involving your child’s viewing written letters, so we need to introduce them carefully. For each starting sound (for example, /fff/), put the sound card with that letter in front of the child and explain what it is, like this:

Adult: This is how the /fff/ sound looks when it is written down.
            Listen carefully: /fffff/. What’s the sound?

Child: /fff/.
Adult: Yes, /fff/. Now touch under it and say the sound with me.
            Get ready:
[Touch under the card and say the sound in unison with the child.]
Adult and Child: /fff/.
Adult: Once more, by yourself. Get ready:
Child: [while touching card underneath letter] /fff/.
Adult: Good job saying the /fff/ sound!

NOTE: When working with a stop sound (a.k.a. “quick and quiet” sound), like /b/, you may need to say the sound a few times to make sure the child hears you, like “/b/ /b/ /b/.” But when the child responds, she should just say the sound once.

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3. Activity

Video: How to play What’s My Word? Parts 1-3

Once your child understands the relationship between the letter and its sound, take the six picture cards with a /fff/ starting sound and quickly review the picture names of all 18 pictures on those cards with the child.

Adult: [showing picture card] Look at these pictures.
            They show bake, cat, and fan.
            Now you name each picture as I point to it.

Child: Bake. Cat. Fan.
Adult: Good.

Now place the first picture card underneath or to the right of the sound card, which should remain propped up so the child is looking directly at it while doing this activity.

Adult: Now I’m going to put a card with three pictures next to the /fff/ sound card.
            Then I’ll say a word in two parts.
            I’ll start with the /fff/ sound and then say the rest of the word.
            Your job is to find the picture of the word I say
            and say the whole word.
            Let me show you how to play.

Touch the f card and say /fff/. Pause for about one second (written as • •) and then say /an/.

Adult: The word I’m thinking of begins with /fff/ and ends with /an/.
            Find the /fff/ • • /an/ picture, and say the word.

Child: Um…
Adult: Listen again: /fff/ • • /an/. What’s my word?
Child: [pointing to picture] Fan!
Adult: Yes! /fff/ • • /an/ is fan.

Now go through the other pictures on the card, to give the child practice in paying attention to an individual sound, the first sound, in each word. Here, she just needs to determine whether each word starts with the target sound (/fff/) or not:

Adult: Does bake start with a /fff/ sound?
Child: No.
Adult: Does cat start with a /fff/ sound?
Child: No!

Go through the other cards with pictures that start with the /fff/ sound, repeating the steps above. Each session of this activity should cover just one new letter sound.

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4. Schedule

You will do this activity with your child numerous times in order to familiarize the child with all the different consonant starting sounds. Introduce one new letter sound a day, according to the schedule in the table below.

The review of previously covered sounds should go quickly and smoothly. If it doesn’t, and the child struggles, then don’t introduce a new sound in that day’s lesson.

At the same time you are doing this activity, you will also go through Activity F5: Word Maker, Part 2.

Day Review Add
1 f h
2 h p
3 h, p n
4 h, p, n g
5 h, p, n, g
6 g r
7 r k
8 r, k b
9 r, k, b j
10 r, k, b, j

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5. Confidence Builder

If the child struggles, put a shorter pause between the starting sound and the rest of the word as you say them. Then gradually lengthen the pause until the two parts are said with a full one-second pause (written as • •) between them.

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6. Extension

Using the same cards from the activity above, show the child the target word on the first card and say:

Adult: Do you remember what we called this a picture of?
Child: A fan!
Adult: Yes, fan.
            This time I will point to the picture and say it.
            Then I want you to say the word I say in two parts.
            Like this: fan. Fff • • an. Can you do that?
            Show me. Get ready to say the word I say in two parts: fan.

Child: fff • • an.
Adult: Yes! Now try to say some more of the words I say in two parts.

Point to another card with a picture that starts with /fff/ and repeat this process. Have the child touch the corresponding sound card (f) and picture (e.g., fox) after dividing the word into two parts.

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7. Small Groups (2-5 children)

Lesson Objective: Using a consonant letter card and set of pictures as visual aids, children will hear the initial phoneme corresponding to the letter card followed by the remaining part of a one-syllable word (onset-rime) and orally blend the two parts together to form a word matching one of the pictures.

GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards): CLL6.4f

Georgia Standards of Excellence: ELAGSEKRF2.c

Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.C

Additional Materials:

  • index cards with each child’s photo

Adaptation: Read the main activity, watch the video, and follow the instructions above, with the following changes:

Do the activity together, providing many opportunities for practice. Then spread the children’s photo cards out, face down, and have a child choose one. Ask the child whose photo card was chosen to look at the picture you point to and try to say the picture’s name in two parts like you have been doing. For example, “Say fan in two parts.” You can help by whispering the two parts in his ear and having him repeat the parts to the group. Then have the group repeat the two parts (“fff…an”) and then say the whole word, “fan.” Repeat this procedure, ensuring that each child has a turn.

Reinforcement: Give each child a face-down photo card. Have one child turn over his card to determine who you should call on to say the word in two parts. Then that child turns over his face-down photo card to determine who will be called on next. Continue until every child has had at least two turns.

Use this Reinforcement at Home form to tell parents and guardians how they can reinforce lessons outside the classroom.

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