We learn to read by first understanding that words are made up of sounds. Learning to speak for most people is natural and automatic. Learning to read is not. Each of the sounds in the words we speak has a letter or letters that represent those sounds. A Sound Wall (or chart) is a way to help students see those connections as they are learning to read.
There are 26 letters in our alphabet, but in our language there are 44 different sounds! AND there are over 250 ways to represent all these sounds with letters. So think about it from a kid's perspective...
Let’s say that your child wants to spell the word “knee” in a story. She asks you how to spell it? Ask her to say the sounds in knee. There are 2 sounds--/n/ /ee/. (If your child can not do this, then that is something that should be practiced. See the section on Phonemic Awareness (coming soon) on this website for ideas of how to practice.)
Use the Sound Chart to find the picture that starts with the /n/ sound (nest). Underneath the picture are the letters (or graphemes) that we use in the English language to represent this sound: n, kn, gn. You can either let your child pick which one to use (invented spelling) or you can tell them that the word ‘knee’ uses the ‘kn’ to represent the /n/ sound. Then find the /ee/ card (feet). There are 5 different ways to represent the /ee/ sound. At the younger grades, students may not know which one to use, but if they pick one off the chart, then at least they are closer than just guessing. Go ahead and tell them which one it is and maybe talk about other words that also use that pattern (bee, see, glee, free). As they read and write more, they will start to recognize the different patterns.
What about those tricky sight words?
Please go to the sight word section of this website for how to help your child with sight words (coming soon).Print off a sound chart to hang near where your child does his/her school work. Or put it in a folder to use when writing.
Download a Sound Chart HERE