Teaching your child to read/spell: Initial Sounds

So, what are we playing today? How about a phoneme popper! A what popper?!?!


Phonemes are the smallest units of sound ie the individual sounds that your child is learning to pronounce phonetically.  When you say  the sound of “c” ( not it’s alphabetic name) it is a phoneme When your write it down and represent it graphically the written letter is called a “grapheme“.

These are worth understanding as you will see them mentioned on many of the teaching websites I will recommend. You may also find that your child will use the term “phoneme”. I use the term with my class all the time.

The game!

Your child will have lots and lots of opportunities to hear the sounds of the phoneme and associate it with its written form, the grapheme.

I love how they have separated out the phonemes into groups. This allows you to focus on just a small number of phonemes until they are well known. It will also allow parents to match the game exactly to the sounds that their child has for homework or is struggling with.

Feel free to play it even if your child has not been taught every sound in the grouping. This game is really designed to be instructional!

Your child need to pop the correct phoneme bubble to earn a point. Popping and incorrect phoneme will result in lost points. It makes a fun “pop” sound like a bubble bursting. Don’t forget to click on any flying saucers that whizz by.

Click here to play

This game will not time out. Decide with your child how long you will play for or just let him/her at it until the novelty wears off! I prefer to use it as a “warm-up” or ” revision” before playing other games.

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂


Teaching your child to read/spell Series: Initial sounds

For the next week or so I will be posting lots of tips, games and explanations on how to help your child with ” initial sounds”.

Let’s look at a basic “cvc”  (consonant-vowel-consonant) word that children will learn to read and spell:

The word “cat” comprises 3 sounds:

  • Initial sound: c
  • Medial sound: a
  • Final sound: t

These sounds are not equally easy for a child to hear and beginner readers are always taught to develop sound awareness in the following order:

  • intial
  • final
  • medial

When we voice a word it is common that we stress the the first sound so it is therefore the easiest to hear. I will not discuss the other sounds right now. Let’s just stick to ” initial sounds” 🙂

So, now that I know that “initial sounds” are the starting point for reading and spelling how do I actually help my child?!

Here is today’s game from starfall.com

Starfall covers each letter of the alphabet individually. I just love this for beginner readers. Lots of games for initial sounds cover the entire alphabet. This means that a child can only play when her/she knows all of them! This format allows you to pick a new sound or revise an old one. It is a great way to supplement or reinforce the letter sound that your child is covering in school this week.

Starfall is fun, clear and easy to use making it suitable for your pre-schooler who insists on using your computer or iPad! He or she/will learn to associate letter sounds with the written letter just through play!

Your child clicks on the “initial sound” in pizza which is already highlighted and clear. When you click on the letter you hear it’s phonetic sound for further reinforcement and learning.

Now we can see the initial sounds of pepperoni and pizza are both “p”.

Sitting with your child will allow you to naturally discuss, question and probe sounds when they are new. After a while your child will understand and can just enjoy playing and learning the phonetic sounds.

It is also a sneaky place for adults to check that they are pronouncing the sounds correctly 😉

This time your child clicks on the “p” and the word is revealed. Again, the initial sound is highlighted and allows you to point it out and discuss it.

I hope that you find this series useful. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Have fun,

Miss Mernagh 🙂